Home Other Stuff We Like SBM Sports: What Sunday’s Game Said About the Lakers’ Playoff Chances

SBM Sports: What Sunday’s Game Said About the Lakers’ Playoff Chances

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As the Los Angeles Lakers battle back to .500 (um…) respectability the playoff race, they started off by beating the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday in a game that felt like a tense Game 7. In coming out ahead, I lost myself in the action, thoroughly enjoying the back-and-forth between two seemingly evenly matched teams.

Afterwards, I took some time to relive what I had just seen.and I realized that this tells you everything you need to know about the Lakers. Here’s what I saw:

Kobe Doin’ Work –

I rib Kobe fans a lot, mostly because it’s fun. Kobe undoubtedly was the best player in the world, but he isn’t anymore. Many of his fans don’t want to admit this, and will defend his place among today’s players and the all-time greats with a hilarious tremendous amount of vigor.

That said, Sunday’s performance was Kobe at his Hero Ball best.

30-footers? Sure. Assists? Led the team with seven. Gargoyle Face? You know it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And I didn’t even mention Kobe putting OJ Mayo on roller skates.

I enjoyed the hell out of his performance, and take it from someone who has Kobe on his fantasy basketball squad…he’s been great all season.

What can’t be ignored is that the team needed every bit of this Kobe to go toe-to-toe with a lottery team. This was supposed to be a Dream Team. Instead, they’re the 9th best team in the West. That leads to the next observation…

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Steve Nash is Andre Miller –

Which is a far cry from what many thought the Lakers were getting when they acquired Nash this summer. Apologies to Miller, but he isn’t worth four draft picks, including two first-rounders.

Nash Pig Miller

Instead of setting the table for Kobe, Nash was forced to play largely off the ball and take jumpers off of Kobe penetration (pause). Thankfully for Laker fans, Nash shot well, leading to a season-high 20(!!) points. Nash hasn’t always been a prolific scorer, but he is one of the best shooters in NBA history. The fact that Nash hasn’t accounted for more points – as a shooter or through assists – tells you the dynamic is out of whack in LA. Nash should be more aggressive on offense, period. This will take pressure off Kobe to produce everything offensively, which (even for Kobe) is too much to take on to be successful.

Nash isn’t alone for blame…

Ron Artest is done –

Seriously. Would Laker fans swap Artest for Gerald Henderson right now? Carlos Delfino? Hell, Mo Harkless? Basically, any nondescript swingman that can defend fairly well and hit an open three pointer?

This is the starting small forward in LA.

This wouldn’t matter so much if…

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Dwight Howard isn’t Dwight Howard

I know he’s leading the league in rebounds. I know he’s recovering from back surgery. I know he has a shoulder injury.

But he’s on the court. And if you’re on the court, you’re subject to scrutiny.

Dwight Strugglin The Lakers may be building for life in 2014 with Howard, but today they have a guy with a limited offensive repertoire who’s a step slow on defense. Sunday’s game did nothing to sway my stance. More troubling than Howard shooting 2-for-7 is that he only took seven shots. Many of them were exactly the same: back to the basket, turn over a shoulder, two steps into the lane, baby hook. Rinse and repeat.

I hope Howard regains his athleticism with his health in the near future and continues his ascension to become a player worthy of a statue outside of the Staples Center. The league is more fun when players are at their best. Kobe turned back the clock and gave us a glimpse of 2008. Hopefully Dwight, whether this season or next, can do the same.

—–

All hope is not lost for the Lakers. Despite missing Pau Gasol for, effectively, the rest of the regular season, Earl Clark has filled in admirably and looks like a player they can count on in the future. Jodie Meeks can still shoot, and Antawn Jamison had a solid game Sunday. The Lakers are in a decent position to get into the playoffs. However, if they are going to fulfill Kobe’s prediction, Sunday’s slug fest with a lottery team isn’t the proof.

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Where do you place LA’s odds to make the playoffs? The team has played well lately, but can they ride that momentum and do some damage in the playoffs? Can Kobe carry this team like he has in the past?

Hit the comments and let me know!

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Comment(17)

  1. The Lakers can win in spite of Steve Nash, kinda like the Red Sox can win despite not having a viable shortshop for a decade #baseballisbackplug. The Artest formerly known World Peace should’ve been traded years ago, Dwight Howard has never played in an offensive system in his career and its showing (no i dont count kicking out to whomever in Orlando one). D’Antoni’s D is still silent, and I actually pity Kobe. However, I think the Lakers will make the playoffs (and get swept in round 1), especially with no draft pick what do they have to lose by tanking down the stretch unlike some other teams that probably will (even though the draft class is superweak *2 chainz voice*)

    1. Baseball post coming at some point soon. Before the NBA playoffs I'm sure. #Tigers got it though, so it may be a one sentence post, lol.

      I think it's interesting about Dwight. IMO he's good/smart enough to adapt to this system, I think (hope) it's just a matter of him being injured. I think that plays into the defense as well. No matter what, Dwight has always been an eraser on defense. He's just not that guy right now.

      I wonder if things would have been different if he waited until December to come back like they originally said.

  2. I don't know what to write because we just lost against Denver… I wish i read the post before i would have been way more enthusiastic…
    I still think they're gonna make the playoffs but is it worth it? Do i really want to see them being swept again? -_-'!
    Everytime you write something about Kobe i'm like ok what is Joe going to say this time lol! I liked what you said today :D! And i agree, Nash has to step it up (what's sad is that i don't think he can do better than what he's doing -_-'!)! Howard is a a total disappointment… Olala how i miss Gasol…
    And the coach? -_-'!!!!

    1. Lol! See I'm not always down on Kobe. I like to think I'm fair. Laker fans make it easy to joke around, though, because you guys go from 0-60 in like 2 seconds.

      It's hard to win at Denver when you're playing the second game of a back-to-back. Teams are something crazy like 2-39 in that scenario. No big deal there.

      I hope Howard is just hurt. If he turns out to be just another big man (albeit one who averages 11-12 rebounds a game), that would suck. Tristan might be right though. He was in a system in Orlando where he didn't have to think much, lol.

    2. Ay, the Lakers may turn the intensity up in the playoffs, like th Giants and Ravens did once they got in. The Postseason is a Blank Slate for everyone, 0-0 so I'm confident in my Lakers

  3. The Lakers will make the playoffs. They are two games under .500 and will win the next two to get back to .500 (at home with Minnesota and Atlanta). They will lose the next one at Oklahoma City of course. Looking at their 14 games in March, and only six against teams with +.500 records (including Atlanta twice, and they look as shaky as the Lakers). They shouldn' t have a problem finishing with around 47-48 wins, with one of the easiest remaning schedules in the league.

    Of course, they'll just be a snack for San Antonio. They always play the Spurs close, just for the Spurs to execute in the final minutes to make LA think they had a chance.

    1. Do you think that if they do go on a run, they can ride that momentum and upset San Antonio (a la Memphis a couple years ago)? I think that will be the narrative anyway.

      Pau might be coming back right at that time to…would at least make it more interesting than the typical 1-8 matchup.

      1. I think they could beat San Antonio, but I wouldn't put money on it. They played San Antonio very close in the two games they played this year (if I remember correctly), but just didn't execute in the final two minutes. The thing is the Spurs don't beat themselves, so the Lakers have to be on their game to beat them.

  4. I have said all year long that this team wasn't given it's proper due. The team is a team that's built to win and win now. However, let's keep this in mind. The Lakers have had injuries to not just one key piece, but four key pieces of their roster this year. Nash, Howard, Gasol and Jordan Hill were all big players on this team. You look at what Blake's done since his return and he's missed time too. There's no team in the league right now who's experienced that. For them to be sitting in 9th place is only a testament to the fact that this is actually a great team.

    I think the Lakers will make the playoffs. I also think they can go deep in the playoffs. They've been hanging close with elite teams all year without a full roster or a team that's had time to play with one another. They lost by ten to Miami only after Lebron and Wade had to pull everything from within themselves to do that. Yes, Miami won, but in a seven-game series… Lebron would be pushing his headband back and sighing if asked that question by anyone. That's the same for the Spurs and Thunder, they've played those teams close and they still haven't gotten to full strength.

    The only thing that can stop the Lakers right now is another injury. I don't think they'd be able to recover from that final blow.

    A few things… that Steve Nash that everyone thought was washed up, had back spasms in the first quarter and played the whole game and dropped 20 points. Hi Amare!

    Ron Artest is still a high level perimeter defender in the league. It doesn't seem like it, but when you watch, he locks up players, frustrates them and creates a headache on his side of the court. He's also an excellent defensive mind. Him and Howard make a great leadership team.

    Kobe is still a top 5 player in this league. He's not the best by any means. But nobody expects someone 17 years in the league to be playing at this high of a level. I think that people assume that Laker fans are gassing Kobe to be the best in the league and nobody is saying that. It's pretty obvious that Lebron and Durant got that. However, he's still a dangerous player because of his high basketball IQ and ability to score from anywhere on the court.

    Think about the 94, 95, 96 and 97 draft and the talent that came out of those drafts. Keep in mind that Jordan was still in the league. Iverson was quicker, faster, and playing at a higher level than Jordan in 98, but because of Jordan's mind he was able to outplay all those younger guys who were more talented than him at that point. That's all we're saying about Kobe. He's probably not the best or most dominant, but the dude ain't slipped out the Top 10 yet, maybe not the Top 5.

    I've imposed a Dwight ban on myself and others around for the next two weeks to give him some time to cool off. Lord knows Dwight needs us to just talk amongst ourselves for a bit.

  5. Dr. J; "Kobe is still a top 5 player in this league. He's not the best by any means. But nobody expects someone 17 years in the league to be playing at this high of a level."

    I think a lot of casual fans overlook that. Kobe is not only old, but played a lot of games because he didn't go to college. And to still be a top five player arguably and top ten definitely is incredible. Lebron and Durant are definitely better than him right now. Chris Paul is. Is there anyone else in the league that you can say is definitely better than Kobe right now? The only maybe I can think of is Carmelo. Can't count Derrick Rose until we see how he plays after he comes back.

    1. Lebron, yes. Durant, enn… ok. Durant is a better scorer than Kobe, not as good defensively, and doesn't have the ability to stop Russell from losing games. CP3, yep. Carmelo, ennn maybe. He's arguably a better scorer than Kobe, but he doesn't do anything else anywhere near as good as Kobe. Shaky defense and his post game no where near Kobe's, but he does have that will to win.

      I'd gladly take Lebron, Durant and Melo over Kobe right now just because of their upside. But in the playoffs, i'd only take Lebron and Melo. I can't believe the way Durant lets Westbrook ruin games sometimes.

      But yeah, I agree with you.

      1. It's not Durant's job to control Russ because he's not the point guard. He IS a 7-footer with handle, 3-point range, and the ability to drive by most 4's. He's one of the few 40/50/90 (3 pt%/FG%/FT%) in history, which means he's a more effective scorer that Kobe. Plus, he rebounds this season and averages 4.5 assists. I wouldn't knock Durant bc he isn't Russ' keeper.

        You rated him ahead of Kobe, so I'm not exactly disagreeing, just wanted to say you can take off the 'enn' before rating him, lol. Durant is solidly #2 pick if you gave someone their pick of anyone in the league.

        1. I don't doubt nothing you said about his offensive skills. I don't think he is Russ's keeper, but in order to remove that "enn" he's got to be able to tell Russ, "This is mine, get me the ball and move out the way." He hasn't done that yet. I'm not asking him to coddle Russ, but to demand the ball in crunch time and perform. The enn doesn't have to do with skills, it has to do with tenacity.

  6. All I can say is I’m hopeful. I think the Lakers can get into the playoffs, but it will be a first round exit. If Dwight can get healthy, and they team gets rid of D’Antoni (fingers crossed) i think next year, they’ll be a force to be reckoned with.

  7. Due to the way the season has gone thus far, I have one question for Laker fans.
    Was it worth it to pay those extra cable fees to see your Lakers play???? LOL at yall

  8. well they have been playing well as of late but at the end of the day they're too old (nash is 40, kobe 34, gasol 33 artest 33) not to mention they don't have a deep bench, and they're not as young or athletic as the nuggets, thunder, or the clippers. I don't think phil jackson could get this team on a deep playoff run and they're going to have to finish strong to sneak in the playoffs. Over the last 6 years years the average wins for an 8th seed is 45. And I don't see the Lakers going 17-7 the rest of the way. It's going to be tough for them to rebuild the next few years mainly because Kobe's contract has handcuffed them.
    My recent post Kobe Bryant: Good Teammate or Petulant Whiner?

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