How did it end up being 3-3 after the Lakers looked so strong in taking a 3-1 lead over the Nuggets? Facing an elimination game? To some it’s surprising. To me, it’s really just the DNA of the 2012 Lakers. It’s been a year of highs and lows and the Lakers have never really found their identity.
- The faltered trade of Gasol/Odom for Chris Paul;
- Trading Odom (the emotional leader) to Dallas;
- The constant trade rumours of Gasol;
- Trading Fisher (the voice of reason) to the Rockets;
- Bench production;
- The Metta World Peace elbow and suspension;
and the list goes on …
Apart from Kobe Bryant, the lack of consistency and just effort has been the most frustrating thing for Laker fans. And I have to point out the 2 other All-Stars – Bynum and Gasol. One day the sun is shining with Bynum dominating the Spurs with 30 rebounds. Next thing you know he comes out in Game 3 in Denver and says he’s wasn’t prepared to play or that he was out hustled. You’re on a $16 million dollar salary, the playoffs, and you’re not ready? Hmmm. Add to that the stupid comments he made before Game 5 by saying “Close out games are easy” and you just have to question how much of a leader Bynum can be. Yeah, we are constantly reminded he is just 24 years old.
And what about Pau Gasol? I really don’t know. I’ve got to give him credit for having a strong regular season amidst the trade rumours and speculation. And for really taking somewhat of a back seat in letting Bynum blossom and giving up shots in the offense. But where has he gone in the playoffs? Where has his post game gone? 7 footer shooting jump shots?Averaging 11 points and 8 rebounds whilst shooting 41% against an undersized Nuggets team is hardly considered dominating? For the second post season in a row, he has failed to deliver. I can’t see any other option than for Pau to be traded given his $19 million contract and the impending luxury tax implications.
Game 6 @ Denver, Kobe Bryant is as sick as a dog but comes through. Where were the other players? Probably thinking that Kobe can bail them out at all times. It’s a knife-edge sword. Having arguably the best player in the game (both physically and mentally) is a luxury but also a dangerous asset. Sitting back and hoping Kobe bails them out has been a common sight this year and in these past few games. What happened in those games that Kobe was not playing and the Lakers built up some strong cohesion and identity. It was all set up for when Kobe returned. That’s all disappeared. It will be a sad day when Kobe finally hangs it all up.
Mike Brown? Have to respect his hard work, but it just doesn’t seem he has the smarts to play the chess game needed in the playoffs. Yes, you can get away with it in the regular season, but come playoffs you have to adjust. Not matter how good of a team you are, the playoffs are all about adjustments. What worked in Game 1, the other team will adjust to, so what is your Plan B, C, and D? He’s the coach – why is he matching up Blake with Miller when he’s getting posted up on in the low block play after play..and scoring? And putting Blake on Gallinari? And really, why can’t he play Goudelock for a few spot minutes. Make things unpredictable! Get a shooter on the floor who can hit an outside shot! The Lakers haven’t really addressed their 3-pt shooting this year, much like last year. Through 6 games, the Lakers are shooting 28.6%. Blake 9/24@ 37%, Barnes 3/24@12%, Sessions 4/17@23% and Kobe 13/40@32% (respectable given he’s often dumped with the ball in the last 6 secs and has to hoist).
I hate saying this but I really have no preference for Game 7. Looking at the big picture, it will just delay the inevitable. And the thoughts of planning for next year start. If they advance, can they really beat the Thunder? Unless they go back to being Jekyll, I really doubt it. Right now they are caught in between and look directionless and emotionless. But I guess that’s been the story of the season. Just when things look up, they turn. But just as likely, when things look down, they turn – so I want to believe. Who will come out to play in Game 7? Metta World Peace will be back and maybe he will ignite the fire needed? I know Kobe Bryant will give it his all, but what about the rest of the Laker squad? We will find out soon.