With Thursday night's win over the C's in Bean town, and accomplishing a 2-0 season sweep (giving them the post season tie breaker over their historic foes) WITHOUT key BIG (man), Andrew Bynum, the Lake Show assumes the coveted pole position for another championship. Looks good!
And it sounds good too! The only problem is that this Laker team doesn't thrive best in the midst of prosperity. On January 13, the Lakers won their 11th in 12 games and finally achieved having the BEST record in the league...they promptly visited the struggling Kings in Sacramento and lost by a point, and then returned home for a six point loss to Orlando.
You see, in spite of all their aspirations for success, the Lakers remains under-achievers at heart...almost as if surpassing everyone else's regular season record is bad luck. Face it, there IS something to this, beyond superstition, which eclipses individual sports.
Look at College Basketball right now...no one seems to be able to stay No. 1.
The Lakers, thankfully for David Stern & Co. now look squarely forward to a face off on Sunday with the ONLY other team with as few losses as they have (nine): Cleveland. I like the Lakers in a close one Sunday because for the Lakers, it's all about proving they're the best, and they couldn't in good conscience let LeBron et al dribble off with the league's best record.
Should they again establish their superiority, however (even if it IS by only one game in the loss column), look for Phil's bunch to drop one within the following week—OKC, Utah, or Atl—with yet another loss to GS or NO the following week. At least he isn't driving them to accumulate a big unnecessary lead in the standings...no, they get the job done with the least effort possible, and in the end that's not an altogether unhealthy thing.
Plenty of teams have built large leads in their sport's respective standings only to get rusty or complacent before play-offs even get under way; the 2004 St. Louis Cardinals (105-57) and 2001 Seattle Mariners (116-46) come to mind.
The Lakers win by ONE in OT tonight...which counts as much in the standings as a 50 point blowout, of course. While they definitely play like under-acheivers much of the time, Kobe's crew ALSO knows (very well) HOW TO WIN! They are looking more like champions every week BECAUSE of all of the above, and because they will not HAVE to play their BEST ball until the very end, look for this team to ONLY peak when it HAS to...in the NBA finals for its 15th NBA title (17th title overall—equalling the Celts, BYW!)