Wednesday Storylines

Dave Murphy —  January 16, 2013

The Lakers are somewhere along the long and winding road. Despite two wins against other teams with middling prospects, it’s too early to get caught up in anything other than observation. Does this mean last night’s shelling of the Bucks is unappreciated? Not at all, making an effort is always appreciated. The guys who were preordained to win a championship have finally begun to demonstrate a pulse. Mike D’Antoni famously said that the season had just begun last Sunday. It was a nice soundbite but not remotely true. The season began long ago and you have to take ownership of what is put in your care, regardless of shape, condition, history or standings along the way. And yes, it is a long road. And there will be many more good days and dark days up around the bend.

Kevin Ding at the OC Register writes about the season hinging on the faith of Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard.

Dave McMenamin at ESPN Lakers Index has the rapid reaction to last night’s win against the Bucks.

Ben Rosales as Silver Screen and Roll looks at the Lakers baby steps in another edition of Beast or Burden.

Greg Beacham for the AP and Yahoo, looks at Kobe and Dwight’s pair of 31′s, and other reasons for the win.

The folks at Gothic Ginobili have started a new Wednesday series and today’s includes Alex Dewey’s take on last night’s clock management.

Eric Pincus for the L.A. Times reports on the disable player’s exemption (Jordan Hill) that has been requested by the Lakers.

Melissa Rohlin at the L.A. Times writes about Dwight Howard’s resurgent play.

Steve Blake has become something of a forgotten man with extended injury complications. Trevor Wong at the Lakers.com blog has an update.

Rey Moralde at Lakers Nation recaps last night’s blowout win.

***

The Lakers host the Miami Heat Thursday in a nationally televised TNT game. This is a match-up that will provoke plenty of debate and discussion. There are a number of narratives at play here – the similarities in the expectations game when a team loads up with superstars, the head-to-head between current and past champions and the simplest one of all – every win at this point is crucial for a team that is currently in 11th place in the west.

A few days ago, a writer that I respect penned a piece about the Lakers’ current state of being. It got under my skin a little. Sean Highkin at Hardwood Paroxysm took a hard look at the team’s descent into irrelevancy and the article was certainly not without its salient points. The overall implication left me a little cold however and perhaps because of a twitter framing device from Bill Simmons – that the team simply isn’t interesting anymore.

Back in the day there was a TV series called ABC’s Wide World of Sports. This was a seminal chapter in broadcasting that had a huge ripple effect on all that would follow. An announcer’s V.O. spoke of the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat, over a riveting montage that included a downhill skier crashing and burning. This is what sports is about – the ride, the journey along the way. We may not always like it and we may sometimes circle with torches but we watch nonetheless. And yes, it’s still interesting, thank you. Up next, Miami and perhaps, a statement about the future.

Dave Murphy

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33 responses to Wednesday Storylines

  1. Lakers are far from irrelevant. People have been trying to kick dirt on them for years. Despite a poor season thus far, the Lakers still generate a lot of interest.

  2. Involving D-12 in the offense early & often only makes all the sense in the world. It improves the chances of the Lakers being relevant in the 2nd half of the season thus the Lakers chances of re-signing him in the off-season. I’m loving the potential of more balanced scoring and much better “D”.

    Lakers next game vs Miami will feature a few major milestones. Kobe’s 1200 game, LeBron’s 20,000th point & 5,000th assist. Here’s hoping it’s the Lakers 18th win of the season, extending their winning streak to a modest three games.

  3. I’m not worried about our lakers. We will be fine, Vegas odds have not changed and neither has my mind. We will go deep in the playoffs.

  4. @Dave Murphy – hey Dave, are you Beales fan like yours truly? ; )
    Give `em hell tomorrow Lakers! Keep it coming DEFENSE!

  5. dave m: nostalgia wednesday is it? cool how you make both the beatles reference and abc’s wide world of sports as prologue and epilogue. what a season it’s been to this point. if we were writing a book, and we probably are, the plot has finally thickened and we would have it no other way, correct?

    some feel we will beat the heatles while others think we will succumb to that slippery slope we have been accustomed to viewing these past several weeks and months. now is a good time, as you point out to realize we are that that point in the season where just the opposite is happening: the opportunity to prove relevancy amidst all else chaotic.

    this can and will be the lakers greatest year. this is our belief. this is our hope.

    Go Lakers !

  6. I am sooooo happy that Kobe has made a fool out of me regarding his defense. He can still guard anyone that he focuses his attention to.

    So happy to have watched him from his first game and God willing to his last game. NBA history in the making and one day they will give Kobe the honors he deserves.

    Black Mamba…forever!

  7. Yeah, I’m definitely a Beatles fan. I also slipped a CCR reference in “up around the bend”, and in last Friday’s Forum, I snuck Neil Young in at the end “only Castles burning”. I don’t know why I do it so much – I especially use musical references in my Searching for Slava blog. It’s just one of my many oddities, haha.

  8. Kobe is simply amazing

  9. Watching Kobe playing all out, man defense and then sitting on the bench during a timeout, completely gassed and sucking wind, made my respect for him as a competitor rise even higher than it already is. 34 years old, 17 years in the league and endless minutes logged,
    he is an utter marvel. Greatness dripping off him as beads of sweat. . . . defiant and unyielding against the unbeatable opponent that stops for no one.

  10. Kobe was excellent last night. What concerns me is the fact he will be asked to play that kind of defense every night. Let’s be honest. Kobe has a lot of mileage. Chasing all the quick PG’s in the West around every night will eventually wear him out, probably sooner rather than later. He even looked winded at certain points last night. I’d like to see a mix of defensive strategies against the quick PG’s. Let Kobe get some time on them. Let Morris get some time. Let MWP get some time. Run an occasional zone, etc.

    Still I tip my hat to #24 for that performance. It was vintage Kobe Bryant.

  11. To expand on my previous post:

    It’s one thing to ask Kobe to stop freelancing and stay with his man (the off guard). It is another thing to ask him to chase the fastest player on the floor around for the bulk of the game. Maybe this is a short term strategy. It can help give the team the jumpstart it needs to get back above .500. It will be interesting to see how D’Antoni monitors this situation.

  12. Dave M.- didn´t catch the CCR ref.! good one. I´ll be checking out your blog –
    as for our season so far,
    it´s been a a slow train coming, but we certainly hope that it´s beginning to really get a´ rollin´ all game long that way, by June, we´ll all be gettin´ our rocks off! :D

  13. dave m: more like a phobia…everyone’s got a few and more power to the people i’d say.

    speaking of anxiety, can’t wait for tomorrow’s game vs last year’s nba champs.

    speaking of disorder, can’t wait for tomorrow’s game vs last year’s mvp.

    now back to the electric slide…..

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sCkRQeLd81U

    Go Lakers !

  14. Neil,
    The key to remember about Kobe: He is, and always has been, human.

    When looked at in this light, you have to admire the grit, the constant drive to improve, the never settling when he was on top. He brooks no quarter and expects none. The ‘talking heads’ have never been in his corner because he never included them in his world – this doesn’t seem to bother him. The fans have always resented the fact that he dared to follow, and try to top, Michael Jordan – he keeps on regardless. He has an element of the Greek tragedy, in that his human failings bring him back to earth, but these shortcomings do not deter him.

    You may not see his like in the rest of your lifetime. The only other athletes I have ever seen with this type of tragedy are Wilt Chamberlain and Muhammad Ali, but Ali survived the hate and became loved – Wilt did not. Enjoy his presence while the fire still shines – you can tell generations to come you saw him play.

  15. Robert,

    Good points. I was watching the game at my buddy’s house and they showed Kobe after about 7 minutes–he was gassed from staying with Jennings.

    Your post lends credence to my continued harping on “getting a backup 1″ and “trying to find a perimeter defensive specialist in the DLeague.”

    Neil,

    Your post, while civil, shows the problem with mixing analysis of Kobe with your emotions about him. You wind up with counterfactual assertions based on nothing but feelings and hypotheticals:

    __

    If Kobe had Magic’s mindset he wouldve won 7 or 8 championships..not 5.

    __

    And if Magic had Kobe’s mindset he might have been in better shape, scored more, and the Lakers might have won 7 or 8 championships, not 5.

    IMO, you should just be straight-up and say, “I don’t like either Kobe or his style of play.” Keeps things a lot simpler.

  16. Dave,

    No offense, buddy, but like I said when Danny Chau (who seemed like a nice guy) was here: Hardwood Paroxysm has always handled the Lakers in general and Kobe in particular that way–trying to mix emotions and analysis simply does not work very well.

    If the Lakers aren’t interesting, then Simmons Highkin et al should stop writing about them.

  17. @Craig W – very nicely said, I agree in every way.

  18. Sure hope Kobe can stand up under the increased workload. I sure do love seeing him abuse small guards like Monta Ellis. That corner three right over Monta’s head last night reminded me of a older brother schooling his little brother in the back yard.

    If the Lakers approach tomorrow’s game with the same intensity as they had when they beat the Knicks on Christmas day, they should be fine. Miami has to play tonight against the Warriors, so that plays into the Lakers’ favor.

    Craig W… Nice post!

    I love when folks say if Kobe were more like Magic, he’d have more rings. Well, maybe if Magic were more like Kobe, Magic would have more rings. Kobe is 5 for 7 in the Finals. Magic is 5 for 9. Magic was great, Kobe is great. I’m just glad they’ve both spent their entire careers as Lakers.

  19. Word is that Pau and Steve Blake took part in 3 on 3 drills today. Pau says he feels 100% and is ready to play tomorrow. He still has to get medical clearance. Blake is still trying to recover and no timetable is set for his return,

  20. This post by C.A. Clark at SS&R wasn’t up this morning or I would have included it – if you haven’t yet read it, check it out. http://tinyurl.com/a6yepha

  21. If Pau had 10% of the guts as Kobe this team would be a contender.
    Or
    If Kobe played this kind of D all year the Lakers would be a top 4 team.
    Or
    If the front office would have gotten or gets a lock down defender to keep Kobe from guarding top 1s and 2s this would a top team.

    Check off your choice and send it to the Front Office.

  22. Kooooooo how can I send those concerns to FO?

    I still say we could use athletic wing, a backup PG *ahem delonte*, and maybe a mobile backup pf.

    But most importantly Gasol on the bench.

  23. .310-426-6000 leave a message.

  24. Warriors didn’t do the Lakers any favor as they are getting blown out at home by the Heat. Heat starters probably sit the entire 4th quarter.

  25. .the detroit finals showing what happens when you drift away from the team concept

    Nah. Detroit was better than the Lakers, and the Lakers were simply overmatched after Karl Malone got hurt. Billups dominated Payton; the Lakers were giving heavy minutes Medvedenko, Walton, Cook and Devean George. Another thing that people who try to sell this narrative always forget is that Detroit was in the Finals again the next year, and lost to San Antonio in 7.

    Basketball is indeed a team game; that’s why analysis that over-emphasizes one guy is almost always shoddy.

  26. Clark’s piece, while it may be accurate, was a little heavy on Simmonsian mind-reading for my tastes, and I also thought it was somewhat hyperreactive. Let’s see where we are in a month and let’s see if Kupchak improves the bench.

  27. Okay. The Lakers just played the Cleveland Cavs and Milwaukee Bucks. These were absolute must-wins. Miami will be a different story.

  28. that’s right neil,
    the Detroit Finals is what happens when Malone gets hurt.

  29. If Kobe had the mind set of Magic? Wow Magic plays Point Guard his job is to distribute the ball to his mates while Kobe plays Shooting Guard and his job is to SHOOT the ball. Got to agree with “rr” that if Magic had that mindset of Kobe, Lakers wuld have won more championship with him. He had more talent in his team than the team that Kobe had and the opposition at that time did not have the same athletic young and quick Bigs unlike todays NBA.
    Kobe not winning 7-8 championship is Shaq’s fault if he had the mindset of Kobe then they could have won 5-6 straigth championships.

  30. @ Craig. Couldn’t have said it any better!

  31. Spartacus, I find it counter-productive to make all those assumptions (winning 7-8 straight, yea right) and trying to change Kobe’s nature into something he’s not. No offense to Magic and his greatness but you can’t force a player to be someone he’s not and expect him to be the best version of himself. I just appreciate them for the kind of players they are and deal with it.

    Using a poker reference…

    You can’t always be dealt pocket Aces, pocket Kings and such. Sometimes you are dealt with 10-8 offsuits that you just gotta play with. You can always scare off a pocket king hand on worse position if an ace comes off a flop. You can also lose a significant amount of your stack but then again, its all about how you play them.

    Kobe for all you fault him, he’s too greedy, he’s too selfish, etc… is Kobe. Ain’t no other way around it. Best surround him with guys who will enhance his abilities, and so far we have. So can’t really fault management for what they’ve done so far. I dunno bout you but I sure don’t.

  32. WWL: Did not know you had the Poker reference in you – I like it. My hand for KB would simply be pocket Aces, and played a little recklessly pre-flop at that. You could lose your stack, but there is no hand you would rather do that with : )

    neil and others: We have discussed this for 17 years. Kobe is not Magic. If he were he may not have ever made it to the NBA, just like Magic could never be Kobe. Questioning a guy for winning only 5 championships (in either case) is beyond even my level of entitlement : ) Now – as to your Phil reference – I have to agree with you there. There is one guy on the planet who can truly coach and improve Kobe. KB has won all of his titles with that guy and MJ won all of his titles with that guy. However, just as you do not appear to be a huge KB fan, there are Phil detractors as well. They mention how Phil did nothing and had a bad year in 2011. Not sure why they still use that example, because 2011 looks pretty good from our current vantage point : ) We are all hoping we can get there and tonight is huge.

  33. Not sure why they still use that example, because 2011 looks pretty good from our current vantage point :

    Because that team had a functioning Odom, a younger Pau, a younger MWP, and a younger Kobe–and got wiped out in the second round.

    I certainly don’t think that was all Phil’s fault–Dallas was on a title roll. But many people, including the KBros, who actually dealt with him, said that Phil seemed a little out of it by then. You seem to assume that he would have come back at age 67, fully-recharged (although he was going to miss some road games). But he might not have.

    A good example of the difference between us occurred in the Milwaukee game, when the the Lakers were up 26-17 and D’Antoni went with this lineup:

    Duhon/Morris/Clark/Jamison/Sacre

    Predictably, the game was tied a few minutes later, and the Lakers with that quintet had trouble simply getting a shot off, much less scoring. As noted many times by many people, MDA pretty much needs to have Kobe or Nash on the floor at all times as long as the game is in doubt, and that little sequence seemed to finally get that point through to him, as he did not do that in the second half until garbage time. That is on him, as is the decision to shelve Meeks. Like I said, I am not impressed by him.

    But what is on the FO is that they have not done anything other than getting Meeks to upgrade the backcourt behind Kobe and Nash, or to get a backup wing. Obviously, Hill and Pau both being out makes it tougher, but the Lakers lack of talent 5-8 as compared to a team like Milwaukee is glaring. That is unavoidable to an extent due to how much money the stars make–but the FO still need to take responsibility, and those issues have little to do with D’Antoni.

    As long as Kobe and Howard are AWESOME (they were 26/37 from the floor against the Bucks) it will work out. But if they are just good, as they have been on many nights,it will not.