That was a great confidence-boosting, comfortable win for a team heading off on a four-game road trip. To be sure, the Clippers played poor defense on the perimeter (Kobe in the first and Sasha in the fourth got Clips to bite on fakes and that made their shots easier, the Clips rotations and coverage at the three point line was weak) but credit to the Lakers for taking advantage of it. One key sign that the Lakers players better understand the triangle this season is just how much better the spacing has been, and that was a key last night. Clipperblog talks about this (and also breaks down Maggette’s tremendous effort).
Then there was another step in the emergence of Andrew Bynum, who is learning to use his length to bother other centers. His confidence grows each game, and with it his game grows exponentially. His presence inside also helps with the aforementioned spacing.
So the Lakers head off on a four-game East Coast swing, all in big cities (is there a better place to finish off your Christmas shopping than Manhattan?) and all against teams under .500. There also are some good teams in there â€” Chicago is loaded with talent and Cleveland won the East last year. With Kobe heading to Chicago and New York, the under/over on stories that say “Kobe is happy now” or muckraking columnists that say “Kobe still wants out” this week is about 350. We’ll ignore those and focus on the big question:
How many games should the Lakers win on this trip?