Records: Lakers 17-25 (12th in the West), Jazz 23-19 (7th in the West)
Offensive ratings: Lakers 105.5 (6th in the NBA), Jazz 103.6 (12th in the NBA)
Defensive ratings: Lakers 103.7 (t-19th in the NBA), Jazz 103.8 (21st in the NBA)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant, Metta World Peace, Earl Clark, Dwight Howard
Jazz: Jamaal Tinsley, Randy Foye, Marvin Williams, Paul Millsap, Al Jefferson
Injuries: Lakers: Jordan Hill (out), Steve Blake (out), Dwight Howard (probable); Jazz: Mo Williams (out), Raja Bell (out)
Our season starts TODAY.
Or are we like 2-2? Is this the last exhibition game? Maybe we’re already in the playoffs… Who knows? Whatever.
I am, as probably many of you are as well, a huge fan of Dynasty mode in NBA 2K(number). Picking a team – seldom a powerhouse, unless the plan is to tear it down to the studs, accumulate assets (I see ya, Daryl) – and reconstructing a winner in my own image. Assessing the “balance sheet,” identifying needs, wants, targets, potential deals. Embracing the struggle. Bear in mind, this is done with total awareness of the fact that I will sooner find myself flag bearer for the Albanian Olympic contingent than I will 60 games in with the juggernaut/plucky upstart I have so judiciously (like, 45 minutes) crafted (at least not without liberal use of “Simulate Game”).
And therein lies the rub of the real-life NBA. You’ve got to actually play the games. No Reset button. No “Simulate” that proxies the effort that the players should be putting forth. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again – at some point you simply are what your record says you are.
For the 2012-13 Lakers, that point has long since disappeared in the rearview. We’ve waited. For Mike D’Antoni, for Steve Nash’s leg, for Dwight to regain beast mode, for the team to “get a few games under its belt.” We will continue to wait, because, well, what the hell else is there? The celebratory mood that permeated Lakerland last summer (you sick of those two words yet?), however, is no more. The numbers are the numbers. This is not “the best 17-25 team ever.” This is merely a 17-25 team, and probably not the best one ever. The names are recognizable. The results? Less so.
The statistically efficient offense is inconsistent and uninspiring. At both ends of the floor, turnovers continue to plague this team. Seldom is there both communication and effort on defense, and too often there is neither. The Lakers enter Friday night’s home tilt with the Jazz losers of 10 of 12 – the only wins a pair of triumphs at home over lackluster competition – and a mere three games out of the West cellar. Until further notice, that’s all ye need to know.
Where You Can Watch: 7:30pm start time on TWC Sportsnet. You can also listen on ESPN Radio 710AM.