Fast Break

Kurt —  March 13, 2006

Got back last night and passed up watching the Soprano’s return (which I will watch tonight, while eating some baked ziti) to catch the Laker game against the Sonics (on Tivo). I was saying ouch before the final minute, but I was in a lot of pain afterward. So let’s talk about those issues, the great win against San Antonio (which I did watch half of on cable) and more.

• First things first: Thanks to Gatinho for doing a great job filling in over the weekend while I watched ball boys/girls squeegee the water off of tennis courts live. It’s much better than watching squeegeeing on television.

• Last offseason, Mitch went out and got Kwame Brown — I said then overpaid for Kwame Brown — to give the Lakers some depth inside. Well, now this pickup may be the key to the Lakers making the playoffs because Chris Mihm’s injury is being described as a severe ankle sprain. Remember, that’s exactly the injury that put Kobe on the sideline so long last season, and Kobe has a high pain threshold. I’d be shocked if we saw Mihm any more in March, at best.

So the Lakers chances to make the playoffs rests on the two big-man projects they took on this offseason — Kwame and Bynum. Kwame will start and needs to play the good man defense we’ve seen from him at times, and Bynum is going to have to deliver good minutes nightly off the bench. Both need to play good defense, something they have done at spots this season.

• About the playoff chase: The Lakers currently sit as the seven seed, half a game ahead of 8th seed Sacramento and one game up on ninth-seed New Orleans. If you want to see a great breakdown of the teams out west and what they have left on the schedule, check out this post (it is a few days old but relevant). The thing I look at and see here is I’m not as worried about Utah, what really affects the Lakers is how the Hornets do — their schedule is not that bad but they have been fading. Also, the next two games — against Sacramento and Minnesota — loom large.

• You all were saying it in the comments after the Seattle game — It’s the Defense, stupid. Seattle shot 64% in the first half, for the game they shot 63.1% (eFG%). They shot 50% from beyond the arc. I don’t care how poorly Kobe shot, the Lakers as a team shot 52.1% from the floor, better than their season average of 48.9%. But you can’t let your opponent shoot lights out like that and win.

• Look at the game flow and you see the Laker starting 5 held its own, Seattle made its runs when the Lakers bench players were in.

• My nomination for best driving CD ever: The Essential Clash (two CD-set).

• Lost if the frustration of the Seattle game is the fact the Lakers played a very good game against San Antonio. Yes, it was a back-to-back for them, but beating a quality team that others are losing too is big.

• The other thing we’re all doing today is starting to fill out our NCAA brackets. I’m one of those people who does consistently well but ends up coming in third in the office to some person who picks teams by going, “ohh, Virgina is pretty, I’ll pick them.” If you like the efficiency stats I use here, or you’re just looking for more information, I suggest checking out Ken Pomeroy’s Web site, which is the best college blog/state page out there and has loads of great information (it convinced me to take UNC to win it all last year).