Three in a row and back to .500, small victories in the grand scheme but you have to feel a little more optimistic about this team than you did 10 days ago. However, donâ€™t get too high off of beating Toronto, regardless of how good the offense looked and all the assists. The Raptors are worse than I had pictured, their perimeter defense is abysmal.
Let me go to a Phil Jackson quote from the Press Enterprise this week: “I expect this team to catch fire and start playing (good) basketball sometime around the New Year … and have some strength at the end of the year.” As I and others have said since the start of the season: If the Lakers can hang around .500 and stay within reach of the playoffs as they get (then stay) healthy and become more proficient in the offense, the schedule the last 20 games of the season favors them. Then, as they make the playoffs, pundits nationwide who have said â€œPhil Jackson just did this for the moneyâ€ or â€œJackson is whippedâ€ will start praising him as a genius. And say they knew it all along.
A few other thoughts to clear out my inbox:
â€¢ I mentioned this in a comment the other day, but one of my favorite things Iâ€™ve read this season comes from 82games.com and Kevin Pelton â€” a detailed breakdown of how Detroit dealt with the Phoenix pick and roll. With that, Kevin put himself in the middle of the TNT crew/Mark Cuban rift. If youâ€™re going to pick a side in that fight, go with the smart billionaire.
â€¢ The latest blog poll rankings are up at yayspoorts.com. Detroit is number one and San Antonio number two (I had them flopped). The Lakers are 22nd (I had them 20th, and the voting was Monday before the Lakers looked good two nights in a row).
â€¢ Speaking of yaysports NBA coverage, interesting piece on Kobeâ€™s tights: Are they more about keeping his legs warm or pleasing the bosses at Nike?
â€¢ Grady Little? I have a Red Sox fan as a wife so I watched more of him than I would have cared to. He was a conservative manager who chose odd times to be aggressive. His biggest weakness â€” leaving in pitchers. Part of that was a poor pen, but Grady was slow to remove struggling starters, and not just in The Pedro Incident.
I have a thing against Grady â€” he has made me more scared for the live of my child than at any moment before or after. During the 2003 ALCS Red Sox/Yankee series my wife was pregnant, she had already ordered Red Sox PJs for the child. We were watching The Pedro Incident and she became increasingly incensed as only a passionate person whose body is surging with extra hormones can. She screamed at the television for Grady to take Pedro out. She screamed at me for not screaming at the television to take Pedro out. She paced the living room like a wild cat and just yelled random swear words. I thought Nurse Ratchet was going to have to be called in. Honestly, I was genuinely concerned for our unborn childâ€™s welfare, but knew the sentence, â€œHoney, you need to calm downâ€ would not have the hoped for result. So I sat there and repeated the same answer to the same question 100 times: â€œI donâ€™t know why. It was stupid.â€
So, Iâ€™m not really excited about this hire.