Not So Merry Lakemas

My Dad and I at the Lakers vs Heat Christmas Game

My Dad and I at the Lakers vs Heat Christmas Game

First off, I would like to apologize for the long delay between posts. Finals are over, and I am now home with easy access to Time Warner so I will now be better.

Now, I would like to discuss yesterdays game. I will admit that I was anticipating a blow out as I am sure most of you were as well. On the way to Staples Center my father and I were discussing even making a pool in Mike Alder’s box about how much the Lakers would lose by. I will admit that I even compared this game to the Globetrotters vs the Generals.

You may wonder why I would go to a game if I was expecting such a blood bath, but the answer is simple: tradition. For the last four years my father and I have gone to every Christmas game. Instead of eating Chinese food like most Jews, we watch the Lakers (usually) lose.

I was prepared for a 25 point spanking by the Heat. However, the Lakers came out strong and the Heat came out weak. We were playing really hard and fighting for the win. I was impressed by the Lakers and growing less impressed with the Heat.

The highlight for me was when Nick Young was lighting up LeBron James on both ends of the court. He was hitting these ridiculous Kobe-esque shots against the first team all defense player, and he was also stealing the ball from him or stopping his shots. I think we may have a new LeBron stopper on our hands. Additionally, LeBron was completely flustered. I have never seen this guy, or any player of that magnitude lose his cool and try to just keep taking shots because his ego was hurt. I would like to also point out that NIck Young is our bench player, so Mr. MVP got showed up by a 6th man who up until this year no one even knew. Next time someone brings up the “Who is better: Michael, Kobe or LeBron?” debate, I will bring up this game as an example as to why LeBron does not belong in the conversation.

Now that I have brought up the positives, I do need to talk about the negatives since we did in fact lose the game. It may come as no surprise to my regular readers that I am going to blame Mike D’Antoni.

First off, why wasn’t Nick Young taking LeBron in the second half? Nick Young controlled him in that first half and most importantly, he got our team energized on both ends of the floor. As someone who was actually at the game, I can tell you that Staples Center was going crazy when Nick and LeBron were taking each other. He closed the gap to end the second but more importantly, it was the best sequence of offense and defense we had all game. I do not understand why D’Antoni cannot do anything consistently. You should stay with what is working. Instead, he went small and put Young on Wade, but Wade ate him up and that won the game. Which brings me to my next point.

Why was Jordan Farmar in the end of the game? Farmar was having a terrible game. He ended the game with 4 turnovers but his walk/double dribble to a wide open basket was his worst offense. That turnover sealed our fate. I know that we struggle without a point guard; I even wrote about it. However, Jordan is streaky at best and yesterday he was definitely rusty. This was not the game to play him 33 minutes. Again, Mike should stick with what works, and yesterday he wasn’t working.

Now Mike D’Antoni can freak out again and tell me to root for someone else if I don’t like how he is running things, however I would like to point out that I have stuck with the Lakers for 21 years. I have stood by: good coaches, bad coaches, championships, rape allegations, etc. Mike should remember that his job is contingent upon him winning and the Lakers have never been shy about firing coaches, even those that date the owners. So, since you are neither winning games or the fans affection, I wouldn’t get too comfortable unless things sour between Jeanie and Phil.

Kobe Season 17: The Raptors Strike Back

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The Toronto Raptors spoil Kobe’s return to the floor

Since I already used the “Jedi Returns” analogy, I thought I would end this series of Kobe returning posts with one more good Star Wars movie (and don’t worry, unlike George Lucas I know when to stop).

So Kobe returned, and boy did the Lakers utilize the hype machine. That was one hell of a production video they created. Everyone was so excited. The announcers kept mentioning his 81 point game as if they expected him to replicate it after recovering from a torn Achilles for 8 months. Well that was both amusing and foolish.

As God-like as Kobe acts, at the end of the day he is flesh and blood. He needs to recover like a human being. That is why I was not surprised by his rusty return. What did surprise me was Mike’s decision to play him in the fourth.

I anticipate some comments disagreeing with me on this point, so I will preemptively address the arguments and my responses. Here are the arguments I expect to hear:

How could you possibly not play one of the greatest closers in the fourth? Why would you keep a guy in the game whose name you can’t pronounce, as opposed to the lifelong Laker who we are paying millions of dollars? Kobe needs playing time so he isn’t rusty, so why wouldn’t you play him?

Well here are my answers:

Yes VINTAGE Kobe is one of the greatest players in the fourth. I want him taking the last shot of the game. However, right now Kobe isn’t Kobe. He is trying to regain his strength, speed, and timing to be that player again. Right now I don’t want to put him in over the guy who is the game’s leading scorer. That brings me to my next point. I have no idea how to pronounce Henry’s first name. I pronounce it like the school, but the announcers seem to think he is Spanish and pronouncing it like Javier. Therefore, I have no idea which is correct. However, Henry has been playing with the bench all season, and that bench single-handedly kept the Lakers both in the game and in the hunt this season. They are the number 1 scoring bench in the league and were in a good rhythm last night (for more of my insights on the bench see: The Lakers Silver Linings Playbook post.) I believe in playing who is hot, and last night that was Henry, not Bryant. Lastly, there is no need to rush Kobe. Mike is supposed to be monitoring his minutes anyway, and last night he played 2 more than Mike wanted. Also, we have 61 more games to get Kobe in “Kobe shape” so there is no need to force it. Lastly, the only purpose for trying to get the real Kobe back, is to both make the playoffs and then make a run, and since the Lakers are in the western conference, this will be a tough task.

I said this with my previous Kobe post, and I will say it again, “be patient.” Kobe is Kobe and he will get back to his usual ball hogging, almost superhuman player when he is ready. The Lakers would not have given him a nearly $50 million extension if they didn’t believe that, and after watching last nights game and seeing the little glimpses of his old self, I believe as well.

Help Wanted: Guards

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Help Wanted: Guards

Right now the Lakers have 3 injured guards: Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, and Jordan Farmar. In a league that is being taken over by guards, Mitch needs to bring in some help. Our bench has already exceeded all expectations by staying in the .500 range without Bryant and Nash, but now it has lost an important member that made up a lot of that scoring. Henry and Young are shooting way more than most small forwards do and Meeks and Johnson have been impressive shooting guards this season, but we lack point guards.

Steve Blake is our only uninjured point guard. Mike has been basically playing Meeks and Johnson in the point position, but they are shooting guards, not point guards. We need someone who is going to set up plays and get guys easy shots, and no offense to our team, but none of them draw a double team.

Since it appears that both Kobe and Jordan will be returning to the line up soon, Mitch should sign a point guard or two to a short term contract. If the guards are only playing a few games it should not mess up any team chemistry, but could alleviate some pressure. Then when Kobe returns he will hog the ball anyway so point guards will be unnecessary.

Lakers Bells

Lakers Logo in the holiday spirit

Lakers Logo in the holiday spirit

It is December and Christmas is all around us. Therefore, I decided to take note from Buddy the Elf, because the best way to spread Lakers cheer, is by singing loud for all to hear. On that note, I wrote a little Christmas jingle to sum up the Lakers’ last week. I would like to apologize in advance to my Jewish mother for not making this a Hanukkah song. Happy Hanukkah to all the Jews reading this post.

Please enjoy the next 2 weeks of short and sweet blog posts since I am heading off into finals mode.  In the mean time, please enjoy my first and only song writing attempt.

Lakers Bells

Detroit Smells

Kobe’s here to stay

O what fun it is to take pride

I hope we play in May

Hay!

Happy Holidays to all and to all a good night!