The Lakers beat a team they were supposed to, something we shouldnâ€™t take for granted, especially heading north tonight. Iâ€™m not doing a full Portland preview because we saw them just a week ago, but donâ€™t underestimate the importance of this game. The Blazers have dropped six straight and the Lakers need to get on them early, shake their confidence and not let up.
â€¢ The Lakers followed Kobeâ€™s lead last night in playing an aggressive, gambling style of defense that still allowed Orland to shoot 55% (eFG%) on the night but forced them into 16 turnovers. That might work again against Portland, but the three point guards the Lakers see after that â€” Barron Davis, Chauncey Billups and Tony Paker â€” are more likely to exploit gambles.
â€¢ Nice to see the good third quarter, nice to see the energy and guys bringing energy off the bench. Now, they need to carry this kind of effort over to the second game of the back-to-back. The Lakers this season are 4-9 (.308 win percentage) in those second games, not great but a little better than last yearâ€™s 5-14 (.263).
â€¢ In case you didnâ€™t see it, the tryout invitees for the World Championship/Olympics has been leaked. Kobe is on there, as he should be, but Odom is not, and I don’t think he would have made my list. I like the mix of guys (although some choices could be quibbled with, like Jamison). Clearly someone watched the last Olympics and took notes.
â€¢ Of course, we could just go with The Onion’s suggestion for the 2008 team.
â€¢ When did Ronny Turiaf develop that mid-range jumper? I saw him in Summer League and thought his range was six feet and in. Still, great all-around game and effort from him last night, he changes the team dynamic when he is on the floor. I can’t get enough of this guy.
â€¢ Itâ€™s a long time to the draft, but let me say now I love the idea of Washingtonâ€™s Brandon Roy as the initiator for the Lakersâ€™ triangle. He is a 6-6 guard who can drive and has developed a nice outside shot, plus (from the couple games Iâ€™ve seen) seems to have the kind of basketball instincts the postion needs. Problem is, he may not last until the Lakers draft near the end of the first round. (Remember that the Lakers traded their first round pick to Boston, although it has been passed around like a joint at a Foghat concert and now I think the Suns have it. The Lakers still have the Miami first rounder, but it will be late.)
â€¢ Kwame was aggressive and confident on offense last night and finished a team-high +20. What was the motivation: Tired of being told just to rebound and play D? Wanted to show up the high-school number one pick who is getting raves? His biorhythems were at their peak? Whatever it was, I hope he brings it tonight in Portland.
â€¢ After reading so much about Darkoâ€™s failings, I was curious to see him in action. Not bad. Not a future star, but not bad.
â€¢ This year is the 30th anniversary of maybe my favorite movie, â€œNetwork.â€ (Think â€œIâ€™m as mad as hell, and Iâ€™m not going to take it anymore,â€ a phrase I may soon need to tie into some Laker commentary.) Sadly, what was then an over-the-top satire three decades ago, and still seemed like a less wild satire when I first saw it 17 years ago, now looks damn prophetic.