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Sunday, December 26, 2010

Yo, Kobe'. &^$%# Just Got Real.

Pau delivers in the clutch. And in a scarf.
Ah, the NBA is on an' poppin'; teams are past the "getting in gear" phase (except the Magic, they got another 2 week window to get it together). Remember the DEFCON-1 when Miami stumbled out the gate, the "I think LBJ and Wade are beefing!" rumbles and the "Spoelestra is GONE!" muttering? Yeeeeeah, about that. And how about LA bullyfooting out the gate, rolling to 8-0, then 14-2, while Pau displayed the full tool chest he has at his disposal, Shannon Brown unleashed his devastating long-range game and came out scorching,  and Kobe' played the facilitator, when the "LA is so good they're bored" talk had LA fans foaming at the mouth? To paraphrase that ol' Jay-Z song "it was all good just a week (ok, about 3 weeks) ago..." LA fan But LA is approaching the crucible of it's season; starting with the Bucks playing custodian by mopping the floor with a LA in front of a disgusted Staples Center crowd, and followed by a 16 point shellacking on a national by the resurgent Heat, the schedule ratchets up the opposition level; before LA lost to the Bucks, a wearing down Pau Gasol said, "You have to start tightening things up. You want to see some progress."  At the time they were 21-7, giving the "all-business" sound bites as the fervor built for the Christmas showdown with Miami. Since then... 0-2, their 5th loss to a sub-.500 team (last year around this time they were 21-4;  they hadn't lost their 1st game to a team with a losing record until their 35th game. And while 21-9 is perfectly respectable, watching LA from the 1st week and a half compared to the disjointed performances from the last 2 losses is like night and day. Now, this isn't me crowing about the Fall of the Lakers; if Boston taught us anything with their Rope-A-Dope performance last year, it's that to veteran, established teams, the regular season is less about W's and more about fine-tuning rotations and maintaining health (which is why even I, a Laker-hater, feel bad for Pau Gasol; almost 40 minutes a game for a not-particularly-athletic 30 year old big is tough). But even the most pro Pro-Lakers apologists like the writers at Silver Screen And Roll have to admit that, with opponents winning a paltry 41ish% of their games (that's like a 12-17 record, gross). It all averages out, though, with the 2nd half of January sees LA battling foes with a projected 65% win percentage, and from there on out the opposition projects at +.536. LA IS still the team to beat, no doubt; their resume' earns them that much. Artest has got to do SOMETHING on offense, and Pau has to return to his November (12 g, 20 ppg, 12.3 rpg, 54% from the floor), and Bynum needs to move from "potential" to "bonafide" if LA is going to duplicate the success of the past 2 years. On deck- Tuesday San Antonio Express rolls into town. Good luck with that...

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