It was ugly, but there are two things Iâ€™ll add to that. First, there are some boxers that make a fighter look awkward, win or lose nobody looks good fighting them. The Bulls are like that â€” their defense and hustle can make a team look out of sorts. Second, and more important, a win is still a win.
UPDATE: Fast moving up the list of books for me to read (maybe right after Freakonomics, which I start this weekend) is Seven Seconds or Less, the inside tale of the Suns last season. Henry from True Hoop has gone all Truman Capote Literary Critic and raved about it. And today he posts about notes from last season’s Lakers/Suns playoff matchup.
* When the Lakers were in Phoenix, McCallum reports, someone left a page of the Laker scouting report at the Ritz Carlton which found its way to the Suns. It reportedly read: “Everyone must contribute offensively. We can’t win this series if Kobe shoots over 30 shots a game. Balance our attack.”
* Meanwhile, most of the Suns’ coaching staff totally agrees. For instance, Marc Iavaroni is quoted saying ” …for every shot he makes, the other guys are saying, ‘Oh shit, Kobe’s doing it all again…’” On the other hand, Iavaroni says, the Lakers sometimes play with a team concept that’s tougher to handle. The Suns want to avoid that.
How would 14-6 sound? Halfway though the early home stretch and the Lakers are 7-3, meaning they are on that pace. This summer in a poll on this site I asked about what you wanted to see the record as after the first 20, and the winning vote getter was â€œat least 14-6.â€ With Kobe slowed I would say 13-7 is the low end, a pace the Lakers are better than so far.
Big Ben on Bynum. When Bynum is focused and rested heâ€™s been very good, and he was both those things against Ben Wallace. He went all Nuke LaLoosh and â€œannounced his presence with authorityâ€ with an early block of a Wallace shot and was a defensive force all night, plus he was great on the boards and picked his spots on offense. Hereâ€™s what Ben told the LA Times:
“He stays away from some of the things that he can’t do and he just does whatever he can do to help this team. That’s a sign of a great player to come, especially in this league.”
About that other centerâ€¦ Kwame Brown had a solid game as well and finished a team best +17 on the night. Overall the Lakers did a great job of pounding the ball in the paint and working inside on the Bulls â€” especially the couple times the Bulls went into a zone.
Good perimeter defense. It helps when the big guys are changing shots behind you, but my big concern coming in was shutting down the Bulls guards, and Smush, Evans and Kobe did a good job: Hinrich was in foul trouble and finished with 3 points and -1, Duhon was 0 points and -12, and Gordon was 9 points and +9.
Farmar not bad. According to the post game reports, itâ€™s a sprain and he is on the bubble for Tuesdayâ€™s game but should be back to face Deron Williams on Friday. By the way, someone mentioned it in the comments, it looked to me like it started because he slipped on a wet spot on the floor.
The opposite of 7-3 isâ€¦ Bulls fans are frustrated after last nightâ€™s loss, and I get that. But to be honest, every season there are teams I search out to watch (after the Lakers) because I like their style. Phoenix was that for a couple seasons, but the Bulls are that team for me right now.
I love that roster, Tyrus Thomas is going to be a beast and that motor will make him a fan favorite (Matt from Blog-a-Bull is right, he needs to slow down a little when he gets the ball, like Bynum is doing this year). Thabo Sefolosha is another who is going to be good, combine that with Hinrich, Gordon, Deng and man, that is a good roster and can be fore years to come.
And remember, they have both cap space and the Knickâ€™s first round pick this year. They are only going to get better.