12 December 2006

Purple and Gold Time Again

The Lakers are doing their Texas two-step with a game in Houston tonight and a game in Dallas tomorrow.

They won tonight,
being alternately impressive then maddening.

The impressive part was the 3rd quarter where they once again were commanding. On Sunday against San Antonio they outscored a very good team 37-22, tonight they trounced Houston 30-13 in the 3rd. Tonight's third quarter magic was even more impressive given that Lamar Odom strained his knee early and was not even in the building for most of the game (went to a local hospital for an MRI on his knee).

Early in the 4th quarter their lead swelled to 27 points, but then they went cold, really, really cold. A 26-1 run by the Rockets b-team wiped out all but 2 points of that lead with 2 minutes still left to go.

I don't know if I should be impressed that they regained their composure and still won, or scared that they are still a young team and are incapable of putting away good teams when they have the chance.

If they also beat Dallas tomorrow, then you'll have to start looking at the Lakers as a legitimate title contender for this season. They have length, speed and strength at every position, and the Bynum/Brown tandem are doing an amazing job at center, a position that has held the Lakers back ever since they lost Shaq. Also Luke Walton has been amazing. He's leading the league in 3pt field goal percentage. Where the hell did that come from all of the sudden? With Lamar and Kobe able to drive from the outside, having guys hit their 3s from the wing with consistency has greatly improved the Lakers as an offensive team, and defensively they have players who can shut down opponents at every position. For whatever reason, they don't keep up their defensive intensity for 4 quarters, but they have had 10-15 minute stretches in every game where their opponents are stymied. That's the kind of team balance on offense and defense that causes headaches for opposing coaches. Unfortunately, their inconsistency must test the Zen-ness of Phil Jackson a bit too often.

This team is light years ahead of where they were last season. Given their youth, it's possible they'll all come crashing down to earth at the same time and have some horrible stretches now that they'll be on the road for some big stretches.

There are still a lot of very good teams in the Western Conference, but this current bunch of Lakers can be counted amongst them, and that's not something that could be said last year.

1 comment:

SippicanCottage said...

I'm so old, I remember when the Celtics sucked.

No, not that time. The time before that. No, not that time. The time before that.