The Lakers and their fans have suffered through some less than satisfying Christmas day games in recent years. In fact, prior to yesterday they had lost 9 of 13. It hadn’t really been much of a tradition except for the pageantry of it. This year was different. The Lakers have somehow managed to steer their way out of a prolonged fishtailing slide – five wins in a row now including yesterday’s very satisfying game against the Knicks – a team that’s playing their best ball in years. It wasn’t always pretty but the effort was there as it has been of late. It’s tempting to lay the credit at Steve Nash’s feet and no doubt he’s provided direction and leadership and all the other many things that he does so well. But credit other guys as well and especially one Ron Artest, having a throwback season and looking dead serious out there on the court.
Dave McMenamin at ESPN’s Lakers Index takes an in-depth look at a guy who’s gone from an out-of-shape, washed-up veteran to a rediscovered cog that keeps on churning.
Kevin Ding at the OC Register considers the difference that Steve Nash is making.
Mark Whicker at the OC Register looks at Pau’s mighty dunk, which came at an opportune time yesterday.
Mike Bresnahan at the LATimes previews tonight’s game against the Nuiggets.
From Rey Moralde at Lakers Nation, Kobe becomes the all-time scoring leader on Christmas Day games.
Marc Spears for Yahoo Sports writes that the Lakers are starting to find their form again.
Drew Garrison at Silver Screen and Roll breaks down the three hours of bliss that was the Lakers’ Christmas win.
Brett Polakoff at ProBasketballTalk relays Mike D’Antoni’s thoughts on Carmelo Anthony’s season.
The Lakers didn’t get much time to relax in the aftermath of their Christmas day win – they’re playing the Nuggets in Denver tonight and then it’s back home to face the Trailblazers on Friday. And then comes the New Year – 16 games in 30 nights including the league’s top teams; the Heat, Thunder (twice), Clippers and Spurs. The real work begins now – the Lakers are a .500 team that’s looking to climb the rungs against those that have played better and more consistently. There is no denying the wreckage behind us. A five-game streak doesn’t put us in the clear. But, it’s a start and there’s hope, and there may just be a winning season in the wings.
Renato Afonso says
Well, we all agree that tonight’s game in Denver is a schedule defeat, right? Because playing in Denver is not hard enough, so better to have it on the second night of a back to back and 1000miles away from the place of the previous game.
Really, who makes these schedules? I wish this was a national televised game and that MDA would pull a Poppovich!
Reallistically speaking, I think that if we manage to win 2 out of 3 until February we will lock that 5th seed…
You might recall that Denver also played last night several hours later than the Lakers, and also has to travel back to Denver for the game. Though George Karl did manage to rest most of his starters due to being blown out in the 2nd quarter.
Nevertheless, I don’t think that excuse holds water this time. As for the Lakers winning 2 out of 3 with the schedule they have coming up this month, that would be quite an achievement. I wish them luck with that…
Actually, the Nuggets had a night game against the Clippers in LA, so the Lakers should have gotten to Denver a few hours before them. This could be a good opportunity to steal one in Denver.
Craig W. says
The difference between the Lakers traveling to Denver and Denver’s doing so is that Denver plays home games at 5000ft altitude. Their players have acclimated to playing at altitude – as have the Jazz.
We get there on a back-to-back. However, we do have a better chance to take this game than we normally do.
lil pau says
that’s actually not true. i read an article last year (I think it was last year) that looked at games @ denver as the second games of a B2Bs and found that the Nuggets suffered as much from traveling, then playing at denver, as a road team (somehow the number crunching accounted for and separated out the benefits of HCA)… so, this game should be ‘neutral’ in terms of altitude, although den’s youth and the big minutes played by kobe and nash last night certainly don’t help our cause (and of course, it is a den home game). i don’t mind, actually– I would rather have won that big xmas ‘we are back!’ statement game than win tonight. let’s hope its not a binary choice.. go lakers!
Kenny T says
Good points about the schedule and the difficulties of playing in Denver. Certainly a challenge. This is a good time for someone on the Lakers’ bench to step up and have a big game.
Renato Afonso says
I do believe we can get 2 out of 3 even with that schedule. If MWP and Kobe stay engaged on defense, we really have a shot at it. I mean, that’s why this roster was built in the first place, right?
Regarding the Denver game, I totally forgot about them playing in LA as well. But it’s still a home game for them…
Joe M says
Scheduled loss tonight. So will be huge if we win this and get over 500, but doubtful the way Denver plays at home and the way we have been on the road.
King P says
We’ve already the nuggets out twice this year, amI wrong?
Dave Murphy says
OK, so we’re all in agreement then – time for a BTB statement win, right?
Kenny T says
I agree, Dave. A good defensive effort by the Lakers should do the trick. If they can keep the turnovers low and keep Lawson from going off, then The Show should make it six in a row.
It would be a solid game if we take one in Denver, and that’s something I would be more than happy with after last night. However, if the Lakers want to make a statement, then we need to win convincingly. As good as this Denver squad can be, I think if 80% of last night’s effort goes in, they should be able to pull one out at altitude.
Kobe, Ron, Nash and Dwight will all give what’s needed. To win or make a statement we need to get big games from any 2 of Pau, Jodie, Darius or Jordan. If those guys show up as well as the first four mentioned tonight should be a solid W.
Jodie Meeks is going to be huge tonight. He’ll be the catalyst to thrust the Lakers over .500 seeing as how he has disappeared since the three days off. This team is starting to form an identity that allows the entire team to get on board.
This might be a good time to dust off Jamison for a contribution as well.
I like that Darius Morris is becoming a trust worthy defensive player in the 4th quarter. He is developing just fine considering he was a late 2nd round draft pick, and during his rookie season he had no one to workout with during the lockout season along with no preseason. In fact his season didn’t start until last Christmas, thus he has one year in the NBA. Much of hist first year he sat on Mike Brown’s bench, but over the summer he worked on his body, handles and shot.
Funky Chicken says
Say what you will about Mike D’Antoni, but he’s gotten more out of MWP in 15 games than Jackson or Brown did in years. Being in shape is obviously a HUGE part of this, but it would be unfair to deny any credit to the first coach to both bench and get the best of Metta.
Darius Soriano says
The game preview is up.