Entry Pass

Gatinho —  December 9, 2006

“Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall”

-Confucius

The uneven play of a young but talented team is a frustration that can sometimes be hard to bear. You see the potential and the flashes of continuity. Sometimes, as happened last Wednesday, you see that potential manifest itself throughout the course of a ball game. But losses to teams like the Bucks and Hornets are gut punches that can be tough to recover from.

The sign of maturity that can be a help in that recovery is the Lakers 5-1 record after losses. The next step would be to avoid losses to lower echelon teams altogether, but even the Spurs have losses to Golden State and Charlotte. More on that tomorrow.

Zoned out: When the Hawks finally went zone in the third quarter, someone forgot to tell Lorenzen Wright, who followed Kwame through the paint leaving Mo Evans to run to the open spot, and causing Josh Smith to have to run over and commit a foul. Camera close ups and courtside microphones caught Smith saying to Wright what we all already knew, “It’s a zone. It’s a zone.”

Ewing effect in effect: Don’t tell me that career highs for Mo Evans, Luke Walton, and Jordan Farmar would have happened if Kobe had dragged his leg out onto the court last night. More distressing was hearing from Jack Haley, who usually causes me to dive for the mute button, that Kobe said he “wished he hadn’t played” against NO/OKC because it “did more damage” to his ankle. A Kobe-less win, and there have been three of them now, does more for the development of this team then what happened against the Hornets.

Westphal said it best when he commented that it doesn’t do the team any good “if Kobe drags his leg out there just to show how tough he is.” Maybe that wasn’t his sole motivation, but there was definitely some machismo involved in his decision to play.

Smush v. Farmar debate: …can end when Phil explains in the postgame news conference that he has:

“…had a number of teams in which guards have split minutes, and I’ve been very happy with it. It gives us an opportunity to play with more momentum and energy out there, particularly in that position, which has to be real active, and we like to get up and put some pressure on the ball.”

Trust the LA media?: Last week Roland Lazenby was kind enough to respond to a comment I made concerning his coverage of the Lakers being an alternate and more insightful source than the LA media. He responded by defending the competence of the LA media, which you can imagine sparked some lively comments. The ensuing discussion is worth a read

-Gatinho

Gatinho

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6 responses to Entry Pass

  1. When it comes to the Smusher, we’ve begun to fall into two states of mind:

    “Smushoholics” and “Smushaphobes.”

    “Smushaholics” still remember his spectacular debut as a starting Laker point guard last year. They remember that 3 pointer against Phoenix and that steal . . .

    Yes, they are aware that opposing guards blow by him just before he gets lost–and that he commits more than his share of turnovers and makes fewer than his share of assists. But they point to his steals and his overall stats last year–about average for NBA point guards.

    Smushaphobes wince when he is announced in the starting lineup. Their minds have already been poisoned before he starts to play. They hope he never touches the ball.

    If Smush makes a steal, a 3 pointer or a great drive to the basket, Smushaphobes expect the player he is guarding to make it back the next time down the court–playground style. In a seesaw back and forth game, they expect Smush to make a series of blunders that will set the momentum against the Lakers. If the team catches fire while he is on the bench, they expect Smush to put it out when he returns.

    Smushaphobes remember the dunk he missed last year against Atlanta toward the end of the game that almost kept the Lakers out of the playoffs. They remember Chris Mihm fouling out trying to stop the players that got by Smush.

    Sometimes Smushaphobes try to go positive and let bygones be bygones. Then they watch the Smusher almost single-handedly drive the Lakers toward playground basketball at both ends–and out of contention for the playoffs.

    Which are you? There may have been moments when I was a Smushaholic, but these days I’m on the wagon.

    Even though I believe that starting status for Farmar is a way off, If Kurt says that Farmar is inconsistent, I say good, because the Smusher is consistent the wrong way. If anyone says that Evans can’t start at the point because he is a 2, I say, Smush is also a 2 that is forced to be a point: look how well he is as a 2 when Farmar is the point. If Phil has already decided to share time among point guards, Smushaphobes hopes that one of them is not the Smusher!

  2. Kobe is certainly needed out there on the floor; the Lakers after a different team without him and I think get a lot of breaks because other teams aren’t sufficiently prepared for what the Kobe-less Lakers do.

    But regardless of any of that, whenever you take the best player in the league off of his team, they will suffer. He just should not play injured, as his defense is so valuable to this team.

  3. I do think that Kobe should play against SA. The reason? Bruce Bowen. Contrary to what’s usually told, Bowen is not a good defender as he just makes too much contact. Either by reputation or something else I don’t know, the refs just don’t blow the whistle when he is guarding someone (Shane Battier is more effective and he doesn’t make that much contact).

    But, if Kobe is on the floor I can garantee that Bowen will be all over him, leaving Odom and Walton to be guarded by someone else less effective. And this could be a 15 points, 10+ assist effort by Kobe if he learns to select his shots. It can be done and the Lakers do have a shot at winning.

    PS: Does anyone else gets the chills when you think about Smush guarding Tony Parker?

  4. If Kobe’s ankle is not 100%, and there is a potential to make it worse, then he should not play. Doing so would hurt the team beyond this game, as they would depend on him in ways he just could not help. This was clearly the case during NO. Unlike the post-knee surgery where he needed to get on the court to strengthen and condition himself back into game shape the ankle on the other hand can be made worse if not rested and allowed to heal properly. I think they have a better chance of playing without Kobe as they would have nothing to lose to go out and compete fearlessly and even more so without thinking about having to differ to Kobe. Other players would likely step-up and deliver. Besides Phil already set this mindset when he commented elsewhere that these Lakers were not ready to beat SA just yet – mind game? Anyway, I think Lamar and company may just deliver an upset!

  5. Sort of with regard to the Smush / Farmar topic, I was looking at the top 5-man units for the Lakers this year, over at 82games.com, and noticed something interesting.

    Farmar and Bryant are almost never on the court at the same time. Indeed, no combo including Farmar and Bryant appears in the top 10 5-man units this year, by minutes played.

    The reason I find this so interesting is because my impression of Farmar is that he’s one of the few guys on the team who can’t be awed into deferring to Bryant. Farmar is the type of guy who wants to take take the last shot himself and wants to control the offense, himself. (This is a compliment!)

    Therefore, irrespective of total minutes played, it would be nice to see Farmar take some of Smush’s minutes with Bryant and see what happens.

    http://www.82games.com/0607/0607LAL2.HTM

  6. What did Confucious ever do ‘cept install communism?