Every player in the NBA has been the truth at some point along the way, whether AAU or high school or college. The curve gets steeper when you get to the show. And trophies are won on the backs of the elite or so the common wisdom goes. You’ve got to assemble your All-Stars, you’ve got to have the talent. Except the fields are littered with max contracts that never sniffed a ring. And there’s role players with glittering fingers as proof they were there, and sometimes even made the difference.
The Lakers are coming off their fifth loss in a row and are two and a half games out of 10th place in the west. The last two were different though, Houston was an actual contest and San Antonio was more than that – Earl Clark had 22 points and 13 rebounds, a career high for the onetime McDonald’s All-American. This team needs a win, desperately, somehow. And they’re back at Staples tonight, hosting the kids with the backpacks and plastic-framed glasses, the kaleidoscope rayon at after-game pressers. If Craig Sager has a favorite team in the NBA it’s probably the Oklahoma City Thunder for their inspired choice of blended synthetics. Never mind that they may be the best team in the league right now, the Lakers need a win. It’s a links post if I say it’s a links post:
Ramona Shelburne at ESPN relays Jim Buss’s assertion that he won’t blow up something that’s built solidly.
Ben Rosales at Silver Screen and Roll feels the tipping point, in another edition of his Beast or Burden.
Janis Carr & Kevin Ding at the OC Register report that Pau Gasol is showing post-concussion improvement but is not yet cleared to play.
Kevin Ding at the OC Register says to say hello to Earl Clark, because D’Antoni’s going to keep playing him.
Matt Dollinger at S.I. has an L.A. power rankings story, the Lakers freefall as the Clippers rise.
LeBron James says the Heat faced more pressure than the Lakers. So writes Kurt Helin at ProbasketballTalk.
Eric Pincus for the L.A. Times writes the story of the Earl Clark breakout.
Carmine Vitali at Lakers Nation has some choice bonding exercises for the Lakers.
You say you know but you don’t know. None of us do. A season can turn in unexpected ways or the darkness in the corners can continue to close in. The first three options on the Lakers front line will miss another game and we’re flying on the wings of guys who normally anchor the end of the pine. Plus Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash and Metta World Peace. There was at least a commonality of desire for the last two games and maybe it was there before and maybe it wasn’t. But it’s Friday night and the kids with the backpacks are in town for a national telecast. And you can’t logically argue a downfall skid but you can take a swing at it regardless. And in case it doesn’t happen, don’t let it bring you down. It’s only castles burning.