More Than Treading Water

Kurt —  January 16, 2007

No Odom. No Kwame. Still, the Lakers are 7-3 in the last 10, 5-2 without Kwame. At a time many would be happy just playing .500 ball until we get healthy, this team continues to show its depth and beat expectations.

And they continue to be exciting to watch. It’s all we can ask for as fans.

Cook may have had his best game as a Laker. Smush seems to have found his offensive game, shooting 60% (eFG%) in the last 10 games. Luke Walton is a steady 12 points, five assists and six rebounds a night. Andrew Bynum is shooting 58.8% in the last 10 and is being more aggressive. As a team the Lakers are shooting 39.3% from three in the last 10 games.

There are a lot of good things going on here. Sure, there are some bad things — the defense continue to be a problem that needs to improve by playoff time — but there are far more positives than negatives. Like just how good a passing team the Lakers have become, both moving the ball around the perimeter and interior passing.

We need to remember all that because things may not be pretty the next couple of games, with back-to-back road games in San Antonio and Dallas. Then again, with the way this team has come together, you never know.

Kurt

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25 responses to More Than Treading Water

  1. John (Vancouver) January 16, 2007 at 1:52 pm

    We are winning. This is never a bad thing; a win is a win.

    The positives that I see coming from our wins are as such

    1) We are winning close games, overtime games. This is showing that other people are stepping up while Kobe has been setting the table all year.

    2) The offense is doing well enough; someone is stepping into that “Lamar Odom” role every night. A week or so ago we thought that big Luke would become that everyday, but he’s regressed from what the box score tells me. Smush and Evans one night, Cook the next, throw in a 30-40 point game from Kobe another night… we’ve got a recipe for success here.

    3) Kobe’s play has been outstanding. In the clips I’ve been able to watch he has really turned his game around. This is the continuation, the fruit of that Suns playoff series from last year. Two years ago he felt he had to do everything; last year he knew he had to do everything until they were ready, and this year he is doing what he needs to in order to win.

    The negatives…

    1) Our defense, at times, looks horrible. Everyone on the board complains about the pick and roll until we are blue in the face. It seems we have been getting better at that, but still – allowing nearly 60 points in the first half to the Heat, in the state they are in, is never good.

    2) Consistency. We are consistently all over the place; the downside of the “scoring by committee” role is that some nights that scoring just isn’t going to come (Bobcats, etc). Luke Walton really needs to step into this 10/15, 8, 6 role in the SF position. Maybe with Lamar back, they can begin to realize something I have been pondering for a while.

    Our Pippen isn’t one player – its when Luke and his intelligence, size, and court vision combine with Lamar and his amazing physical gifts, vision, and defense.

    I am looking forward to the games against Dallas and SA – I honestly expect a win from at least one of those games. In fact, I think these should be playoff-type atmosphere games for our young Laker team. Phil can get in there and say “You lost to the Bobcats because you don’t think they are a challenge; well here is your challenge. Man up and prove you belong.”

    I also really want to talk about the MVP this year; no nesscarily that it is Kobe though, but who it really shouldn’t be.

  2. Got to agree with John (Vancouver) and Kurt in almost everything they said.

    And to me, the Lakers will be facing two of the three best coaches in the league. It is true that Odom is out, but if Phil can outduel Avery, then that’s the best shot we have at winning one of those two games.

    Beating Poppovich at home with Duncan healthy might be too much for us… However, I hope I’m wrong…

  3. We complain about defense, but we fervently wish C. Webb had joined the Lakers.

    What is our problem???

    Look at the scores. We do NOT need more scorers on this team. We have enough scoring talent. WE HAVE ENOUGH SCORING TALENT.

    I look at Lamar and Kwame as being added defensive talent. Certainly it doesn’t matter if Kwame doesn’t average over 10ppg. We need his team defense.

  4. I think Lamar’s versatility on the deffensive end contributed much more than any of us realized. I remember the few games before he went out, the Lakers finally seemed to start clicking on deffense. Now, they had been bad until that point, but deffense is largely communicative, and it is understandable that early in the season they were struggling with it. Is it any mystery that we are struggling with it again now, with Brown (incredbily strong) and Odom out?

    I also think we have as good a shot at San Antonio as Dallas, San Antonio hasn’t been playing as well lately.

  5. We should look to try to split these two, and I always feel we have a better shot at beating Dallas than S.A.

  6. I agree, I just wish Dallas was the front end of the two.

  7. We can take both games

  8. I wouldn’t be so pessimistic about the Texas trip… San Antonio is playing good but not great, if we rise to the level of our competition as we are known to do, then we should have a very good chance of winning based on how we’ve been playing recently. I think Dallas would be the tougher game of the two, it is against a team that has only lost once in the last few weeks (to us) and the will be at home playing us on the second night of our back to back. Hopefully we can build momentum against the Spurs and carry it over to the Dallas game.

  9. Well, the Spurs lost to the Bulls recently, but the Bulls are a much better team than people give them credit for – I honestly believe if they had a player like Pierce, they would be undisputed kings of the East and one of the best teams in the L. They have depth, consistent scoring, and play hard d every single night.

    The point of this all is they have a very good PG defender in Hinrich. We have.. well, we know what we have. Parker isn’t goign to go 6-2-4 against Smush and Famar I imagine.

  10. Yeah… i’m just not too scared of the Spurs this season. They seem old. In the past 7-8 years, we always had the Spurs in the back of our minds knowing that we had to find a way through them if we were gonna win a ring. I don’t sense that this year. Yes they have a very good record right now, but I think thats more a tribute to their ability to play at a consistent level and not lose to teams they should beat. But just because they are beating all the bad teams like they should, it doesn’t mean that they will be better than the good teams come playoff time. I think we can take the Spurs in the playoffs this year. I really do. The only teams in the back of mind right now that I know we are gonna have to find some way to overcome in the playoffs are the Mavs and the Suns.

  11. The Dallas game worries me more than the Spurs game. 2nd of a back-to-back, on the road, after what will likely be a tough game in San Antonio and Dallas is arguably the best team in the league. I think the Spurs are still a good team, but not nearly as scary as they used to be.

  12. Personally, I agree with the Cavalier at YAYSports. The Spurs aren’t even the second best team in Texas anymore. The Lakers could still easily lose that game, but the Mavs are the team to beat.

    Also, is anyone else here DYING to see the Lakers play the Suns again? What’s up with the schedule?

  13. I don’t have anything else to add, other than the Lakers are very fun to watch (on offense moreso =).

    Some of you might enjoy this:

    http://nba.aolsportsblog.com/2007/01/10/watch-lamarcus-aldridge-clobber-dwyane-wade/

  14. Everyone should remember S.A.’s mo. They start the year slow and build toward the playoffs. This has only gotten more pronounced as TD has gotten older. Greg P., like PJ, uses the season to prepare for the playoffs. This means the Spurs will get increasingly tough as the year goes on. It also means the early reads on the team are usually wrong.

    Be Careful Lakers.

  15. Please fellas.
    I beg you.
    Do not sleep on Tim Duncan.
    Please, god, do not sleep on Tim Duncan.

    That’s all I am going to say about that…

    We need to mail Legs about this. All of us.

    http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/dailydime?page=dailydime-070117&lpos=spotlight&lid=tab4pos1

    2. Wizards guard Gilbert Arenas — We haven’t seen a scoring spree like this since the days of Jordan — every night you wonder if he’s going to get 50. He’s put up his biggest numbers against the best teams.

    I wrote to him…

    “Was the Daily Dime crew asleep under a rock last year? I don’t think so, because I really enjoyed reading the dime everyday, so you couldn’t have forgotten 81, you must still have 63 in 3 quarters against the team that went to the West Finals, highest scoring average since You-Know-Who, Mr. Jack Bauer, the Mamba.”

    I explained in more detail after, but that was the jist.

  16. Yeah, maybe the Daily Dime crew missed the stretch of 23 games from Dec. 10 to Jan. 31 last year when Kobe averaged over 40 points a game. He scored less than 30 points only 4 times during that run, which means he had 19 games out of 23 where he scored 30 or more. Gil has also scored 30 or more 19 times, the only difference being it’s over a span of 37 games. I’m not trying to take away from what Arenas is doing, but how can one’s memory be so short that you can say you haven’t seen a scoring spree like that since Jordan when you JUST saw one a year ago that was even better?

  17. I told Legler the same thing. How soon they forget. I guess when Kobe does it, it’s somehow routine, but when anybody else gets close to the same thing, then stop the presses and shoot off the fireworks. I love Agent Zero, but come on, be real here. Not since Jordan, my ass. Credit where credit is due.

  18. Richard,
    You really hit it on the nose!

    When Kobe does it the sporting world just takes it for granted and continues to discount him. It would seem only the players and GMs give Kobe his due.

    Certainly not the sportswriters, for heaven’s sake.

    Also, us fans; we tend to take Kobe for granted in LA. We just assume a player averaging 28ppg, while a ways from full health, and running the team for his teammates is something we will always have. This ain’t going to go on forever so we in LA just better really enjoy this while we have it.

    Go KOBE!

  19. Alright fellas, I’m heading to the game in San Antonio tonight. Can’t wait to be there. The weather is really terrible in Central Texas with ice storms and all, but I’ll make it. Hoping that arena is a little barren so i can move up and annoy some Spurs fans a bit. This is a game i really feel we can win, but our defense is the only way to make it happen. The Spurs ride the ebb and flows of a game better than anyone around, very much like the Patriots do in the NFL. All they care about is being in it in the 4th quarter to make a run. They can ALWAYS turn it on. We have to do what the Bulls did and flex our defensive muscles. Then, let our offense carry us to a road victory. These are the games you don’t expect to win, but if we play well, you never know these days with this Laker squad.

  20. What? Hold on a second.

    Ice storms?
    In TEXAS?

  21. With this year’s Laker’s, there is a huge gap between “expectations” and “hope” for me.

    Before the season, most analysts predicted the Lakers to repeat 2005-2006 at best, barely sneaking into the first round of the playoffs–if Kobe and Lamar stayed healthy. When Mihm failed to heal and injuries piled up, many experts backed away from these “realistic” projections, saying that the Lakers would be lucky to be a .500 team. Those who expected more were labeled “myopes,” and many real Laker fans kept their hopes inside. We hoped that the Lakers would win the NBA championship this year.

    Since the Lakers seemed to be carefully proceeding on a rebuilding program, I could have lived with a .500 or worse record. I liked many things about the team. They were fun to watch. The joy of this year is that the Lakers have been performing closer to my hopes than analyst expectations.

    Things haven’t changed yet. This morning’s LA Times seemingly anticipates losses not only in the next two games, but in a large portion of “away” games to come. I can live with it if they are correct. But wouldn’t it be interesting if analysts reminded themselves that this is not the Laker team that their smoke and mirrors crystal ball “realism” predicted at all from the gitgo? The Lakers could lose the next 12 or 13 and drop to .500 ball–but it hasn’t happened yet. Maybe they have hopes too!

  22. Yep, ice storms in Texas! Strange but true. Just knocked an inch of ice that was peeled to my car. Reminded me of my 8 years previously in Chicago.
    Can’t believe anyone on this blog takes what the LA Times says seriously. I think this Laker squad will keep playing well, with a few rough patches (see last week in Memphis and Houston), but for the Times to say we’ll lose more than we win is clearly not seeing this team and their depth. Off to San Antonio!

  23. Cory, stay warm, drive safe and be sure to post (or email me) some in-person recap notes.

  24. Not a single word about the reason why we’ve been winning all these games. Can you say KOBE! He has turned into a great leader and best of all he finally understands the only way to win games is to trust your teammates. Even w/o Lamar Odom and KB Kobe still hasn’t had to score an extreme barrage of points to save his team.

    Anyways the Laker role players have also stepped up to fill in the gaps of the Laker lineups. Although they’re not greatest natural shooters, scorers or definitely not defenders they play well off of each other for them to get a good enough shot to win the game.

    As I see it the Laker should give the Suns a run for their money once all their players are healthy again.

    GO LAKERS!!!

  25. Please please please let’s not sleep on the Spurs. So many fans do that every year. Perhaps their D has been a -bit- softer this year….but these guys are like Michael Jordan in their execution and in the fact that Jordan didn’t need to crow about taking out a team’s heart after he did it. He was just matter-of-fact about it. Same with the Spurs. They are ALWAYS dangerous as long as Pop and Duncan are there. And for those who wonder about the supposed ubiquity of ice storms in TX….you really need to visit.