Inside the Lakers: LA 106, Miami 88

Tim CarySenior Analyst IFebruary 29, 2008

If you haven't watched the Lakers play in a few weeks, your knowledge of the team, based on media coverage alone, probably goes something like this:

A.  Kobe Bryant's finger is hurt, but he's still playing.

B.  Trading for Pau Gasol was the steal of the century.

C.  The Lakers don't lose much anymore.

Now, while all those things are true, life isn't quite so simple in Lakerland.  It's pretty good at the moment, but never simple.

The games still have to be played, the team will deal with ups and downs of the season, players have good weeks and bad weeks—but you'll never see much of that on SportsCenter. 

If you want to see Kobe's dunk of the day and three impressive highlights, watch ESPN. 

If you want to know a lot more detail from an Ohio-based sportswriter who stays up until 1:30 a.m. ET to watch every minute of the  Lakers' season on NBA League Pass, then you need to read my new series on Bleacher Report, "Inside the Lakers."  Starting with today's column, this is the place you can find in-depth coverage of the Purple and Gold. 



Recap: In a game TNT scheduled nationally for the Kobe-Shaq storyline, a 40-win team does just enough to dispose of a 40-loss team...and Shaq is nowhere to be seen.  He was actually watching the UCLA-Arizona State game, but that's beside the point. 

The Lakers jumped out to a quick double-digit lead and then proceeded to let Miami hang around in striking distance for 47 minutes.  Dwayne Wade converted a late four-point play to cut the lead to 95-86, but Miami couldn't get any closer. 

The announcers were bored out of their mind, and if you had been listening to them talk about anything and everything, you would have had no idea that it was a 10-point game throughout instead of a 40-point game.  The Lakers were anything but sharp; still, they did enough to get their tenth straight win.


Who's hot: The "Backup Backcourt."  Young guards Jordan Farmar and Sasha Vujacic have been unstoppable off the bench during the Lakers' winning streak. 

Farmar had a game and career-high 24 points in only 24 minutes for LA, converting four of eight from behind the three-point arc while adding three assists and three steals. 

Vujacic, who has recently dubbed himself "The Machine", finished in double figures for the fifth straight game with 12 points.  Sasha finished February with an 11.9 ppg average for the month.


Who's not: Derek Fisher.  The Lakers' starting point guard had his second straight forgettable outing, shooting 2-11 from the floor, including an air-ball on a wide-open triple attempt.  Hopefully for Lakers fans, his mini-slump will end tonight in Portland.


Beyond the box score: Ronny Turiaf played an excellent game against Miami last night.  The stats won't show you anything earth-shattering: Ronny finished with seven points, 12 boards, and three blocks.  However, his defensive presence (swatting and altering shots) was a huge factor in Miami shooting only 38 percent from the floor. 

Turiaf was called for fouls on at least two second-half blocked shot attempts that I thought were clean, and watching the game, it was obvious Miami was over-thinking when they attacked the rim.  Coach Phil Jackson rewarded Turiaf by playing him down the stretch over star Pau Gasol, who enjoyed a pretty nice night himself with 13 points and 11 boards.


Up next: The Lakers visit Portland tonight for the teams' second meeting this week.  LA came away with the victory at home on Tuesday, due in large part to Blazers star Brandon Roy missing the contest.  Roy is currently listed as day-to-day. 

By Lakers' standards, the last two games, although wins, have been sluggish and below par.  Tonight could show a return to form and an 11th straight win—or it could be the evening LA's "bad" week catches up to them.  Check the next edition of "Inside the Lakers" soon for the details.