Sunday, April 13, 2008
Los Angeles Lakers
In what some considered the game of the year for the Lakers on Friday night the Lakers beat the Western Conference leading New Orleans Hornets and also won the Pacific Division for the first time since the 2003-2004 season. The game could be described in three parts. Part I-The Lakers came out and put on a tremendous display of basketball with outstanding player movement, ball movement and played defense with playoff level intensity and raced out to a 30 point lead. Part II- the Hornets cut into the lead big lead and shaved 10 points off of it going into halftime and gained the momentum Part III the Hornets continued the onslaught and the Laker lead evaporated and it quickly became anyone’s game. Kobe Bryant lead the Lakers down the stretch and the Lakers played enough defense down the stretch to hold on for the win and avoid disaster. The Lakers defense could be their Achilles heal and if the Lakers don’t go to the Finals and win it all the built in reason why. The Lakers need to watch the film of what they did in the first quarter of the Hornets game and find a way to bottle it so it came come back for a return engagement. Their defense has to be a concerted effort by everyone. Defensively the Lakers rotations to shooters is slow, opponents are shooting wide open 3-point shots and attacking the Laker basket without any response. Their defense has been sporadic and sometimes non-existent. The Laker guards are having difficulty staying in front of the opposing guards and the dribble penetration has been killing the Lakers. This needs to be shored up before the playoffs start. The Lakers offensively are settling for too many jump shots as oppose to attacking the basket, they’re taking way too many 3-point shots and not running the triangle offense. I’m not saying the Lakers should stop shooting 3-point shots altogether, what I am saying is let success be your guide if you’re making them and the shots are within the flow of the offense take them. The Lakers need to start they’re offense through Paul Gasol from the inside out. Winning the division is a tremendous accomplishment considering the injuries the Lakers have suffered. The Lakers are truly missing Andrew Bynum’s presence in the middle and the forgotten man Trevor Ariza at 6’ 8” a slasher & terrific on the ball defender that can defend shooting guards and small forwards as well as spell Kobe Bryant when he needs a rest. The Lakers won’t receive any rest because coming to town on Sunday the San Antonio Spurs a team that is no stranger to the Lakers and the defending world championship team with a solid defense. In case you haven't noticed the playoffs have actually started already.