Mike Rice

Feb 08

Lakers and Kobe: Bored?

By Mike Rice Posted in: Bulls, Celtics, Heat, Jazz, Lakers, Mavericks, Spurs, Suns
When I agreed to write my blog, the last team I dreamed of writing about was the Lakers.

Through the years their arrogance of being good and their ability to finish ahead of the Blazers in the West really turned me off. Their media staff my first 10 years on the job only talked to me twice. They were too busy getting tickets for their stars or supplying the national media with stats on how great they were. At the start of the year on our courtside prediction show, I think LA got three votes to win again, Boston one and of course I had to go with the Heat, more on hope they could beat the Lakers than really thinking that. Now that we are over 50 games into the season it's time to look at the powers again.

The Lakers are still the favorite in their minds. They have won 16 NBA Championships so that gives you and your fans that complex that says you're better than anyone else.

Let's look at the Lakers past and present and see if that attitude of Phil's “Is it the playoffs yet? If it isn't then don't ask me questions on why we stink some nights.”

In the Championship year of 2008-09 the Lakers had 65 wins. In 2009-10 they had 57 wins (and Kobe had to make six game winning shots in the minute to get to 57) and remember the Celtics saved the Lakers home court advantage by beating the two Eastern teams that had better records, the Heat and Magic. Plus last year after the break the Lakers were 25 and 16.

It looked like their ragged play would carry over to the playoffs when they were tied at two-games-all with the Thunder in the first round. They won the next two games and then the offense kicked in against Utah in four games and won an offensive battle against Phoenix in six games. The final series against Boston was won in game seven because of home court advantage and a rebound advantage without Kendrick Perkins in Boston's line up.

Now this year the question to answer about the Lakers: are they bored with regular season games, with their 35 – 16 record? At this time Chicago, Boston, Miami, San Antonio and Dallas all would have home court over the Lakers.

Can they turn the win knob in the playoffs even though they have a terrible record against the top five teams in the NBA now?

Let's look at the potential problems facing the Lakers as I see it:

1. The focus of Ron Artest. Last year he wanted that ring and went along with everything Kobe told him to do. Kobe, and as we found out after the Championship, his psychiatrist, really kept Ron grounded and coachable. Will that work two years in a row with much more difficult playoffs?

2. Chemistry. The Lakers won because of their length of Gasol, Bynum and Odom and the great desire of Kobe Bryant. This year the length is getting into each other's way and the outside shooting is not nearly as dependable to draw people away from the middle. The defense is not nearly as good against teams that can play Gasol head up and give help on Kobe. The second unit will get a little better when Matt Barnes gets healthy but they seem to struggle a lot on the defensive end.

3. Age of team. How much can Derek Fisher, Ron Artest, Matt Barnes and Steve Blake (their 30-something players) help their 32-year-old Kobe Bryant star win games in April and May? It looks like Kobe taking over games now hurts the Lakers as much as it helps them. Lamar Odom, Pau Gasol, and Ron Artest can still win games but they are in the part of their careers where none of the three expect to get any better and probably will decline in their skill level from here on. I was shocked to see the Lakers did not make a trade so far, to help them maintain their advantage with Kobe before his skill level starts to slip. In the playoffs I see the Celtics, Heat and possibly the Bulls, if Noah comes back strong, beating the Lakers if they had home court advantage. In the West, San Antonio. You could add Dallas and OKC if they get bigger in the front line through trades. In fact if you're looking at the future you might add the Blazers if Oden and Roy can gear it up to want to win a championship. With the way young guys have come back from injuries now it seems all it takes is a great desire to want to get it done. We will see if Kobe and Phil (in his last year) can get the rest of the Lakers to get that Championship that everyone in LA believes will happen with no problems. I am not so sure.

Portion of Hand Written Copy:

10 Comments

  1. Great blog. A question pops into my head. If the Spurs continue their winning ways, a win more than a 5 games per loss for the rest of the season, which would be the bigger disappointment? Them losing to the Lakers or the Lakers losing to the Spurs? One gives up an amazing season, the other gives up the reigns of the Championship.

    All I can say, is I'm equally as annoyed with the Lakers as everyone else in Blazerland. They're annoying, cocky, arrogant, can't take a loss without the media flipping out, and most of all their fans are annoying. Don't be surprised if you see one cussing you out because you mentioned some things negatively about them.

    I don't think they're bored. I think they're done.

    by Herr on 2/8/2011 10:52 AM
  2. my opinion, on paper that team looks unbeatable, you first thougth about that with miami, you need to have the coach, then the chemistry. nate has proved if you can get the full potential some nights you can win, where the lakers there not hungry. my first thought with this team was if you cant beat them join them; artest, barnes, and sorry blakey. this team will still get out of the first round but after that teams will lock them down and beat them, the question is when...

    by jamie (guy) on 2/8/2011 11:10 AM
  3. Your hate for the Lakers clouds your judgment. Not to mention your facts are wrong. Celtics did beat the Heat, but they didn't have a better record than the Lakers - the Cavs did.

    Just because the Lakers win and the Blazers don't doesn't give you a right to whine about them over and over again. As a Blazers fan I would greatly appreciate it if you would just get over the Lakers and focus on something else for once. The little brother nonsense is getting ridiculous. There's a reason I watch the broadcasts on mute.

    by CommonSense on 2/8/2011 1:14 PM
  4. Great Blog! I agree LA seems to be bored with regular games- will be intersting to see if they can turn it on as the playoffs get closer..

    by RedRudy5 on 2/8/2011 1:58 PM
  5. Ah, I was correct.

    by Herr on 2/8/2011 2:38 PM
  6. "and remember the Celtics saved the Lakers home court advantage by beating the two Eastern teams that had better records, the Heat and Magic."

    Correction: Mike, it should say the Cavaliers instead of the Heat. ;)

    by Shem on 2/8/2011 10:29 PM
  7. I think there are a couple of factors at work: 1) Age 2) Injury, especially Bynum's 3) Artest 4) They have taken winning when for granted if it's not all on the line, as well as their ability to "flip a switch" when it IS all on the line. Not sure if that's Boredom per se, but since losses during the regular season don't really matter too much, as long as they stay in the top 4, perhaps the urgency is not there.

    I am reminded of Boston last season, who lost plenty they should have won during the regular season, but played out their hearts come playoff time, actually taking their opponents a bit by surprise. The Lakers may be in that same position.

    by SisillaRiann on 2/8/2011 4:54 PM
  8. EA, I don't think anyone is sleeping on the Lakers, and teams certainly won't. If LA's tactics really are to "surprise", they're not going to get away with it.

    by Herr on 2/8/2011 5:36 PM
  9. Bynum for Melo? Thats frickin' worse then Gasol for Kwame!! Don't do it NBA, the league can't afford a two horse race anymore.
    Worst part is that Sportcenter thought Lakers should keep Bynum, trying to squeeze how it's such a good bargain for Denver. They're big time Laker fans on Sportcenter, it's being broadcast from L.A.!!

    2 year, 31 million on that chunky lunker Bynum's contract. That'd be committing Seppuku Denver, DON'T DO IT!

    by Tobyus Sanchezo on 2/9/2011 4:13 AM
  10. as much as it pains me to point out, Herr was correct. it took all of two-and-a-half hours for someone pro-lakers to criticize (it's too bad the lakers don't have an interactive website on which to list their praises).

    let's face it, the lakers have been and are falling off. they're on pace for 56 wins at this point, one shy of last season, and they've already played the easiest part(s) of their schedule. i don't believe they'll be able to coast through the playoffs (not even with the usual aid of officiating) as they have in past years. as you said, Mike, there are simply too many viable road blocks. dallas always plays them tough; oklahoma city not only learned from last season, but has the added emergence of Westbrook; and the spurs are not only for real, they've always played the lakers well.

    just as i believe anyone can win on any given night; anyone can also lose on any given night. in this case, all it's going to take is four losses in seven. coasting or not, it can happen.

    by Kassandra on 2/9/2011 2:12 PM
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