Fast Break

 —  March 16, 2005

Another busy day at work, so here are some quick thoughts.

• Why, if Kobe has a good first quarter, does the rest of this team seem to go in a funk? We’ve talked about Kobe needing to get other players involved early, but there will be nights when he’s hot early and the rest of the team needs to step up later and they never seem to.

• Sasha was a +12 against the Sixers and Luke was +11, and while some of that came in garbage time some did come against the Philly starters near the start of the fourth quarter. The zone defense they went to helped.

• Lately I’ve needed to keep reminding myself that the moves last summer — keeping Kobe and trading Shaq — were moves that looked ahead three years and were not going to help the Lakers this year.

• I also kept telling myself that I was hoping for 3-3 on this road trip, and so far they are 2-2. The bad news is the last three games have been defensive disasters, the Lakers were just lucky to win one of them.

• I fear that Thursday night in Miami could be another blowout. Check out this note from ESPN.com’s Mark Stein: Miami hasn’t lost a game in regulation since Feb. 1. The Heat’s only two losses in the past 17 games came in overtime — and both without Shaq.

• The guy with the front-line job of stopping Shaq — Chris Mihm — has a sore back that has limited his play lately.

•One other thing about Shaq is you can always count on him for a clever quote (and you wonder why the media likes him better than Kobe). This one is pretty funny.

• The Lakers have used 243 different lineups this season, according to the Dallas Maverick’s stats people. That puts the Lakers toward the bottom half of the league — Charlotte has used the most at 597 and Seattle has used the least at 170.

• Apropos of nothing else, the book I’m reading right now, 1968 by Mark Kurlansky.