I fire up the old computer to write about the Lakers and their opponents and, to be honest, I find myself staring at a blank screen for longer than I’d like. I type, erase, type and space down, type, erase, and on it goes until something resembling a post worth your time reveals itself. Some days are easier than others. Today is not one of those days.
I don’t write this for your sympathy or your pity. This is the process. And, in a way, this brings me closer to understanding what it might be like to play for the Lakers right now.
At 6-16, the Lakers have a record fully reflecting their ability to compete in the NBA on a nightly basis. They have some talent, but not a lot. They have a coach who sees the game a certain way and is working within his paradigm to best produce good results. They have an aged icon doing the same. And they’ve had some bad luck with injuries. The results have been what they’ve been, but we’ve said that already.
Every day, then, this team wakes up and goes to work trying to sort out a way to win a basketball game. Current experience says that what they try will not be successful, but they try anyway. In a game like Tuesday’s against the Kings they came out on top. Tonight, in San Antonio, they hope the same will occur. The likelihood of that happening is low, however.
Because that team, the Spurs, are the opposite of the Lakers. The Spurs are the league’s reigning champion and one of the best outfits in the association. When at full strength they are a bear that will maul you through technical expertise and master level execution. When not at full strength they will simply wear you down using similar technique and execution, only from lesser players who seem to raise their game at the most opportune times because they have been drilled repeatedly to do so. This team is a machine that inspires equal amounts of envy and awe (and, for opponents, frustration and dislike) in how they methodically do the thing they are told to do with a level of discipline befitting a team coached by a military man.
With all of this as the backdrop, a key plot point of tonight’s game isn’t whether the Lakers can win (I don’t think many believe that) but if Kobe will pass Michael Jordan for 3rd on the NBA’s all-time scoring list. Unless you live under a rock, you know that Kobe will pass Jordan sooner or later and with only 31 points left to hurdle the man whose nickname was “Air” it’s likely it will be sooner. After all, Kobe has already scored 30 or more points in six games this season (second most in the NBA), so tonight would be just as good a game as any. Especially with the national TV cameras rolling.
I’ll have more thoughts on this subject when it actually happens (after dealing with that problem of the blank screen, of course), but for now my thoughts on this can be summed up with a single tweet:
Kobe's going to pass MJ in scoring and the stans are going to melt and the clowns are going to clown. But seriously, what an accomplishment.
— Darius Soriano (@forumbluegold) December 4, 2014
What an accomplishment, indeed.
My dream scenario would be for Kobe to score 31 points on 18 shots in a win over the Spurs on the road tonight. I doubt that happens, but that’s why they call it a dream. It would be fitting, though, simply because the Lakers and the Spurs are this generation’s Lakers and Celtics with Duncan and Kobe serving as two the game’s all-time very best anchoring their respective franchises. And while the Spurs have continued to be at the top and the Lakers decidedly not, it would be fun for Kobe to get a nice team win on a night where he accomplished something meaningful regarding his individual career. We’ll see, right?
Again, though, making this happen will be quite the test. As noted above, even if some of the Spurs’ main guns do not play — and Kawhi Leonard is questionable — they will be prepared to put a hurting on the Lakers. I could go on and on about how, but that’s not necessary. They will pass and move and defend with purpose and it will produce good results. For the Lakers, the hope will simply be that they can conjure up enough defensive effort to make some of those passes and cuts more difficult, have some of those shots miss, and hit enough of their own shots so that the Spurs’ defense comes up short. I don’t have any expectation that this will happen. But much like this page going from blank to 800 words, the process endures and the results may surprise you.
Where you can watch: 6:30pm start time on TWC Sportsnet and ESPN. Also listen on ESPN Radio 710AM.