Last 10: 2-8
What Vegas says: Lakers -4
Walking Wounded: I think old joke goes something like, “They have so many injuries that their team photo is an X-ray.” The biggest injury being Jermaine O’Neal, there are sevral others joinig him including Austin Croshere who got a concussion in last night’s game. Jamal Tinsley is also out. Foster, Pollard, and the newest Pacer, old friend Peja Stojakovic, will probably play but have nagging injuries. Only Stephen Jackson and rookie Sarunas Jasikevicius have played in all 41 games for Indiana.
What’s behind the Pacer’s slide?: Most media pundits are blaming the Pacers disarray on one Ron-Ron Artest. His trade demand was a distraction, but now that he’s finally gone, O’Neal gets injured, so it might take a little longer to get over that hangover. Lost in the Artest maelstrom is the oft overlooked factor of the leadership vacuum left by the retirement of Reggie Miller.
A sprained right pinkie finger: Seriously, that was one of the reasons why Peja was placed on the IL this season before the trade. As Charles Barkley once said about Marcus Camby, “I think the guys made out of tissue paper.” Living in the Bay Area and having the enjoyment/horror of listening to King’s radio, the King’s faithful are already feeling like they got the better end of this deal. But Larry Legend has been after Peja for two years and he finally got his shooter. But Peja can opt out at the end of the season and the Pacers could possibly end up with an Artest for cap space trade.
A ruthless duo: Terence Moore, a columnist for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, called Bryant’s 81 point performance “one of the worst things to happen to basketball,” and characterized Bryant and Jackson as “a ruthless duo (who) couldn’t care less about the other Lakers or about the game already rolling toward a rout against pitiful Toronto, or about the effect of this selfishness on youth.”
New York state of mind: 58 free throws! Andrew “A-bomb” Bynum gets 16 points in 14 minutes and yes, it was garbage time, but that was Eddie Curry still in the game for conditioning reasons that he dropped those points on. Like a proud Papa, Cap got out of his chair on a 6 foot hook shot, “That’s my boy!”
How disturbed should we be about Kobe’s hijacking of the offense in the second quarter? By my count, 8 straight possessions where he shot the ball leading to 1-5 and two trips to the free throw line for a total of 6 points. Two caveats, the Lakers were already up by 19 points and it was New York. You didn’t really think Kobe was going to resist did you?
Update: A year ago today the Lakers beat the Blazers 92-79 to raise their record to 24-19. This would be the zenith of their season. This was the one and only time that season that they were 5 games over .500. Tonight the Lakers have a chance to match that mark.