(Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
From Andy Kamenetzky, Land O’ Lakers: Once you’ve read Brian’s postgame thoughts and the game chat recap, by all means, take in some movies. Kobe Bryant said the Lakers collectively viewed the Blazers as “a test” for themselves. Safe to say, the quiz was aced. Pau Gasol’s triple-double was an obvious highlight, and Kobe’s praise of El Spaniard underscored just how tough the Lakers are to stop while firing on all cylinders: “Teams have to make a choice [about who to key on], and the way our offense works, you got constant movement all the time. You got shooters. You got slashers. You got great pickers. We have great play-makers, Pau being one of them. When you double team him, he’s able to find guys out of those double teams. That makes us virtually impossible to defend.”
From Brian Kamenetzky, Land O’ Lakers: Before the game, Steve Blake acknowledged he delivered all the inside information at his disposal to his new teammates and coaches before Sunday’s game against Portland, where he spent nearly three seasons before being traded to the Clippers last year. Fair to say the man formulates quite a scouting report. Seen as the first big test of the young season, the Lakers throttled the Blazers, controlling the pace of play on both ends. Offensively, L.A. was in an absurdly good rhythm, particularly in the first half. Everything — and I do mean everything — broke in its direction, whether it was a Pau Gasol pass on the interior tipped high, but still finding Matt Barnes underneath for a bucket, or a Ron Artest layup partially blocked by Marcus Camby but still falling for two.
From Mark Medina, LA Times: Perhaps for dramatic effect, the shot took a while before it eventually dropped into the basket. Gasol had just thrown a bounce pass to Ron Artest in the lane and it initially appeared the shot would fall short just like Kobe Bryant’s short-range shot did a few players earlier after Gasol found him open. As soon as Artest’s shot dropped in, Gasol raced back on defense, pumped his fist and high-fived guard Shannon Brown, the nearest teammate in sight. Gasol had just recorded his fourth career triple double and second with the Lakers, and eventually finished with 20 points on nine-of-13 shooting with 14 rebounds and 10 assists.
From Mark Whicker, OC Register: The white pieces, in chess, can reach checkmate in three moves. The black pieces can get there in two. It took the Lakers about a dozen possessions to capture Portland on Sunday night, thanks to the most resourceful piece on their board. Pau Gasol can beat you horizontally, diagonally, vertically, through the air, off the floor, in all four continental time zones in the U.S. and on the Greenwich median. In just the first six minutes here, he found Ron Artest for a 3-pointer, looked opposite and found Derek Fisher for a 20-footer, flipped a little Tim Tebow jump pass to Lamar Odom for a layup, and hit a 20-footer himself. The score at the point was 13-8, close but irrelevant; the Trail Blazers, playing without their centers and having played at home Saturday night, were in no mood to punch the clock.
From Dexter Fishmore, Silver Screen and Roll: Seven games, seven victories – five of them blowouts. We couldn’t, without seeming a bit greedy, have asked for a more rollicking start to the season. Tonight’s contest against Portland was supposed to be the sternest test so far, but instead the Lakers wheeled out the heavy artillery and continued crushing and killing everything in their path. A thoroughly dominant first quarter ended with the champs up 13, and from there it only got worse for the Trail Blazers, a legitimately solid team who were made to look like the Bakersfield Jam. The lead became 24 in the second quarter and 27 in the third. The final score of 121 to 96 bears witness to the Lakers’ complete mastery at both ends of the court.
Warren Wee Lim says
Just a thought for everyone…
We know the Lakers have an extra gear in them… thats something we grew when we got massacred in Boston 3 Finals ago. So calling the Blazers game at home a “test” was quite obvious… but I don’t see it that way.
The Lakers’ real test will be their ability to not play lackluster games against weaker opponents thinking its a cakewalk. This has been the team’s waterloo (if you may call it that) and we fans are too eager to defend it as “meh Phil doesn’t value regular season wins.”
But seriously, even though we face none of these teams (Wolves, Bobcats, Raptors, Wizards, etc) in the playoffs, the Lakers need to remember that a grindout against Miami or Boston or Orlando in the regular season is just as valuable as a 26-point clobbering of the 76ers. A win is a win.
I am not advocating for 73-9 only to lose somewhere in the playoffs… I don’t think there’s anything wrong with Phil’s mentality either, but I am a huge advocate of “doing what you are supposed to” as supposed to taking weaker teams easily just because…
What are everyone’s thoughts about Lamar staying in the starting lineup when Bynum returns? Lamar is playing so out of his mind right now that I think he has to stay there until Bynum proves he’s ready to take the spot back. Quite frankly this is the best I’ve seen Lamar look in quite some time (maybe since the Finals against the Magic 2 years ago), and I think his Olympic experience has made him a better player, which says a lot because he was already an all-star caliber player.
Phil has already said that Bynum will start, more from physical exigencies than any other considerations. (warm-up, cool-down times and the like). lets wait until he actually plays, oh, fifteen or twenty games, see how it all works out, before we restart this debate.
Craig W. says
We fans are always, always seduced by tactical moves. We just never seem to think strategically.
So it is with the Andrew Bynum discussion.
Craig W – That’s true.
It’s something we fans can indulge in; part of the fun!
Let PJ and his staff do the hard work of figuring out how to actually win.
When Bynum returns to the starting lineup the pace of the starting five will slow down, but it will allow the second unit to push the ball more with Blake and LO at the helm. Bynum starting allows the team to establish a defensive presence first and then play more uptempo as the subs come in the game. This change of pace between squads will have opponents bumping their heads against the wall at the constant pressure offensively and defensively LA will be able to throw at them.
To me the difference is not in who starts the game, its the offense playing inside out and hitting outside shots. The combination of both will allow LA to dominate any team in the league.
Has anybody else noticed this year there have been almost no bail out shot clock violation shots Kobe has had to take. No hero mode, no 1 on 5 play, just great execution in the half court sets by the whole team period.
I love how this team is putting weak teams away quickly, without hesitation. All business.
All the Phil Jackson teams have lolled around with weaker teams. Haven’t seen this since Showtime (I remember those guys would just dominate and fastbreak a weak team into submission by early 3rd quarter – no B.S., “next!”).
It’s a mastery and professionalism that’s truly impressive. We’ll see how long it lasts.
People are forgetting the Lakers would jump out on teams last year to start the year and after getting a 12 point lead after the 1st quarter the bench would let the lead go back down to 4-6 rather quickly. Now the 12 point lead goes up to 20 to start the 2nd quarter and the game is over. Just another example of how a bench effects the course of the game.
even though the Ls are admittedly off to a very good start, they have played none of the other top eight(8) teams, by record/DIFF.
i.e., NO, Atl, Bos, Orl, SA, Mia, Den
8-0 after the T’Wolves (there is no way to take them too lightly!), and then comes Denver. I think they then go until the end of December before seeing Mia/SA/NO all within 8 days.
then we’ll have something to really sink our collective teeth into. Bynum should have been back for a nearly a month..
As the schedule toughens up, it’ll be interesting to keep an eye on the differential between offensive and defensive rating.
I recall reading that it’s been a key indicator on how teams fare in the long run, usually it won’t be more than a few points, to have it over double digits or anywhere near that is close to historical levels.
Darius Soriano says
Zephid has a new post up. Check it out, very good read.
DirtySanchez introduced something very interesting. If the Lakers learn to master both of their faces. Offensive overload and Defensive lockout ie, the game with either Odom or Bynum in. They can really make other teams head spin. You know, it can be hard to master two different variations but it can probably be done with time, but counter it on the fly can be too hard.
Peter Nguyen says
Despite just a handful of games against so-so opposition, I can already tell this Laker team is different from previous incarnations. I think we have a really special team on our hands…Dr. Buss’s thoughts from August may be right on! I posted a few more thoughts about this — in particular, about the silliness of 73 wins being a big deal — here: http://sanmateopete.wordpress.com/2010/11/08/forget-73-wins-its-about-playoff-immortality/