Big Win

So when I heard Stu Lance say on the Lakers broadcast, on Time Warner, that this was a big win against the Phoenix Suns, I found myself laughing in mockery but soon pondering at the possibility of me actually agreeing with his statement.

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A win over the 17-36 Phoenix Suns is considered a good win? A win over the worst team (statistically) in the Western Conference is a good win? Have expectations for this Lakers team really plummeted to this level?

Coming into this season, I really liked the Suns roster. When they signed Eric Gordon (a restricted free-agent, whose contract was eventually matched by New Orleans), I thought it would be enough to get them into the playoffs and offer some upset potential. Unfortunately, the Suns didn't get to add Gordon, which left me to think that they'd still be good enough to contend for a seven or eight seed in the Western Conference.

I thought Luis Scola and Marcin Gortat we're a decent, if not a pretty good, big-man combination. I thought Jared Dudley (a solid defender and an above-average three-point shooter) and Shannon Brown (one of the most athletic guards in the league, who has been able to develop a respectable jump shot over the past few years) would be great at playing the backcourt with Dragic, whose always been underrated as a basketball player (his 17.4 PER is higher than Jamal Crawfords, Rudy Gays and Ty Lawsons). And of course, I fell into the trap (as I do so every year with this man) of believing that Michael Beasley was finally going to turn things around and develop into the dominant, offensive force that we've been waiting for him to become since he was drafted out of Kansas State.

But just like I was wrong with the being alockto be a top-three seed, I struck out on this prediction as well: the Suns, as of this point in the season, are the worst team in the Western Conference. So just like I'm torn on the thoughts of whether this Lakers team can pull themselves together to make a playoff run, I'm torn on the thoughts of why this Phoenix team has been as bad as they have been. From a roster standpoint, both of these teams are greatly underachieving. While the Lakers have four (three, if you want to count out Pau Gasol and his absence due to injury) future hall-of-famers that aren't even in the playoff picture, the Suns have a worse record than the Sacramento Kings.

So that's what we had in Staples Center tonight, folks: two underachieving teams who are both in holes deeper than they ever predicted coming into this season. In no way, shape, or form am I even considering or coming close to comparing the situation with the Los Angeles Lakers to the situation in Phoenix. But in a general sense, both these teams are underachieving and not meeting expectations that both of their rosters would entitle them to meet.

Thats why I can somewhat agree with Stu Lances statement that the Lakers win over the Phoenix Suns was a big win.

Still a win over the worst team in the Western Conference being considered a big win, and not a necessary win or a predictable win just goes to show you how far the Lakers have plummeted from the beginning of the season up to now. Yes, it was a big win because the Lakers essentially have to win most of their games if they want to get themselves back into the playoff picture. But no, it was not a big win because you're playing the worst team in the Western Conference.

Its really a matter of seeing this Lakers glass as being half-empty or half-full. And for most Lakers fans, this balance of staying positive and keeping themselves from committing NBA-suicide has been an issue all season.

Five Formidable Facts: Lakers vs. Suns (02-12-13)

1. Kobe Bryant was a factor in this game for all the wrong reasons.

In a season where Lakers fans have gotten used to predicting the unpredictable, something happened Tuesday night that nobody on this planet wouldve ever predicted: Kobe Bryant went an entire first half without taking a single shot. In fact, he ended up making only one field-goal, shooting 1/8 from the field, while also turning the ball over eight times. Still, Kobe continued to play the role of a facilitator, dishing out nine assists, but even that couldn't hide the ugly truth: in tonights game, Kobe Bryant was doing more bad than good for his Lakers squad. With his poor shooting and his clumsy turnovers, he was more of a liability than someone who, is usually, relied on. Still, if you're going to have a horrible game against anyone, I guess doing it against the worst team in the Western Conference is better than doing it against a team that would punish the Lakers for Kobes mistakes.

2. Dwight Howard is listening to the media for all the right reasons.

Just when Kobe starts doing things horribly, Dwight Howard starts getting his act together. Whats more impressive than the big-mans 19 points and 18 rebounds is the fact that he played 41 minutes. Yes, this is the same Dwight Howard who is dealing with the same back and shoulder injuries, but no, those injuries don't heal in a matter of days, weeks, or even months. Fact is, Dwight was getting a lot of heat from the media (mostly stimulated by comments made by Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, and Mike DAntoni to basically play through some pain for the betterment of the team) for letting an injury sideline him with the Lakers in their current helpless state. Needless to say, Dwight Howard didn't look like the Superman we we're so accustomed to seeing in Orlando, but he played 41 minutes, the most minutes out of any player on both teams. Whether he genuinely listened to the media backlash that has unfolded on him the past couple of days (including an article ripping him apart by Orange County Register writer Kevin Ding and a total rant made by Rick Fox on 710 ESPN AM on the Max and Marcellus Show), Dwight looked like he listened: he set more screens for Steve Nash in hopes of increasing pick-and-roll opportunities, he was consistently active on defense, and he played 41 minutes . Now if only we could get this guy to make a long-term commitment before the trading deadline

3. Metta World Peace continues to struggle from the field.

Heres how MWPs been shooting in past 10 games (starting from his game against the Jazz), 5/16 (Jazz), 6/14 (OKC), 1/8 (Hornets), 6/17 (Suns), 2/11 (Timberwolves), 3/8 (Detroit), 2/13 (Celtics), 5/14 (Bobcats), 3/11 (Heat), and just today, 6/16 (Suns). That means Metta World Peace is 39/128 from the field, shooting a whopping 30.47% from the field. In other words, you can say that the guys going through somewhat of a shooting slump.

4. Antawn Jamison contributes to one of the weirdest, unpredictable Laker seasons in history.

Here are two of the weirdest things I took from tonights game:

1. Jamison took twice as many shots as Kobe Bryant , taking 16 shots, and to his credit, making 8 of them. Jamison ended up finishing with 19 points and 10 rebounds.

2. Jamison had a series of nice defensive stands, including a nice block on Jared Dudley in the 4th quarter. When Jamison not only blocks a shot, but makes good rotations on defense by helping defend certain players at appropriate times, it makes me do these three things, in the exact order: cheer, scratch my head, and then genuinely laugh in a state of uncontrollable shock.

5. One of the few, consistent bright spots for the Lakers this year: Robert Sacre

Oh, you thought I was going to talk about his play on the basketball court? Come on, for a guy who spends most of his time on the bench, why would I talk about his play?

Well actually, that's really the point: the guy spends most of his time on the bench and absolutely loves it. After any play that is even borderline good, my eyes have now been trained to look all around my television set for the Lakers bench, in the hopes of seeing Robert Sacre be one of the most entertaining bench-celebrators the Lakers have had since Ronny Turiaf was wearing purple and gold.

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Posted in Home Improvement Post Date 07/23/2022






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