Fast Break Thoughts

Kurt —  January 5, 2009

Luke Walton #4

The other day the comments became a debate of the worst announcers in the NBA for those of us watching stuff on League Pass. (Congratulations Portland, you win!) But as was pointed out then, if that is all we have to worry about, things are pretty dang good.

I like the Lakers having the best record in the NBA better than I liked them being third. But, just as when the Lakers were third, being first in January and $4 will get you a latte. Play it one game at a time (this is a tough month on the schedule for the Lakers) and we’ll talk in March.

•Luke Walton is out with sesamoiditis, which you can read more about here. Basically, it’s tendonitis of the big toe area, and it hurts like a… well, this is a family blog. But you know the words, probably in several languages.

The cure for this is rest, and special shoe inserts. Walton will be wearing a boot for the next two weeks, followed by a re-evaluation. So, we wait at least that long. And, as this is January, no need to rush him back. This is the advantage of a deep team.

• Trevor “The Cobra” Ariza got the start in Walton’s place, over Ariza’s objections. (When was the last time a guy complained about starting? Even Marbury doesn’t try to talk the coach out of that.) He likes his role coming off the bench and closing out games, and with good reason as it has been so successful.

First things first — I don’t care who starts. Walton, RadMan, Ariza, Odom, Vic The Brick. Well, I’d care about the last one. But the point is that who finishes is who matters, not who starts. And Ariza finishes, something that is not going to change.

Ariza as a starter may or may not work out, but frankly nobody (not Phil let alone us fans) knows yet. Bad first quarter for that group, great third quarter. This is the time of the season to experiment, try out everyone but Vic as a starter. The rotation does not need to be set in stone yet by any means.

• LeBron James traveled. Well, in my world, but what I can get away with at the YMCA and guys can in the NBA are radically different. And I couldn’t pull off the “crab walk” anyway; I’d look more like the melted butter in the ramekin next to the crab legs. That said, whatever the rule is all the officials need to be consistent on it — I say if LeBron makes that same move 10 more times he gets away with it. I personally don’t really care one way or the other, just be consistent with the call.

• Pau Gasol really has adapted to playing with Andrew Bynum, and he has become insanely efficent. He has learned to use the space the big body on the block creates, and is finding holes in the offense to get his shots. And, with his offensive arsenal, when he can pick his shots he makes them.

Bynum is still spotty, but improving, particularly on the defensive end. Where he is needed the most. Last night during the Lakers third quarter run to take charge of the game, Bynum owned the glass. He made key plays, even smart fouls (stopping a possible momentum-changing dunk by Bantum) and basically filling his role beautifully.

I think what some people perceive as his problems was a case of him wanting to do a lot and pushing things when he got his big contract, rather than letting the game coming to him. But that has started to change. He is active on defense, he is moving his feet well and getting points in the rhythm of the offense. That is exactly how he earns his contract.

• In the last 10 games, Kobe is shooting 41.7% from three.

• For all my concerns about Derek Fisher and the PUJIT, he’s hitting a lot of them lately.

• I just started reading the latest from Sarah Vowel, The Wordy Shipmates, about the Pilgrims (it was a Christmas gift). I’ll send along a report in a couple weeks.