Say what you will about the Los Angeles Lakers.
Make the claim about how much better LeBron is than Kobe. Complain about how the Lakers always think they don't get the calls from the refs (which all NBA teams seem to do now). And go back to the Boston game and keep saying that Fisher committed the foul at the end to ensure the victory (I watched it in slow motion, and Fisher wasn't within six inches).
There are plenty of people out there who will tell me that the LA Lakers don't deserve to be where they are, and these people are often those who hold a personal grudge against the team. Which, in the world of sports, is great because it gives us something to talk about.
But, how can you disagree that the LA Lakers have just had one of the greatest, if not the greatest road trips in the history of the NBA?
Let's take a look at some of the reasons why this claim rings true.
1. They went 6-0 on the trip that included two back-to-backs and two games against teams with fewer than 10 losses
The length of the road trip alone is worthy of amazement, however doesn't validate the claim that this is the greatest road trip ever. However, when you consider that they had to beat Boston and the Cavilers at home, that certainly ups the ante.
This was a trip riddled with games the Lakers "shouldn't win" and yet they found a way to pull it out.
Also, on the plus side, it gave the Lakers the home court tie breaker against the two teams with the best chance to get to Finals from the East.
2. They lost Andrew Bynum and were able to make up for his absence
Bynum had gone past the classification of role player. Rather, Bynum was now a force in the middle, protecting the paint and dominating the boards. The team had begun to rally around his play.
The loss of Bynum from the lineup clearly affected the Lakers during the game against Memphis, sending them into the locker room with a double digit deficit at halftime. They came out to rally, but it was clear that the team had Bynum on their minds.
It seemed to really ignite Kobe, who incidentally was the one who fell into Bynum's knee, who went off for 25 points. You could see how the team came out after half time with a purpose.
Yes, it is true that the Lakers have the same basic lineup that took them to the Finals, but there is no doubt that the Lakers team with Bynum was unstoppable.
3. Kobe Bryant put up the most points in Madison Square Garden, EVER
Sure, go ahead and point to LeBron's triple-double (I'm going to consider it a triple-double, even though the NBA took it away). Go ahead pull out the old "Kobe is a ball hog," but even the most passionate Kobe Bryant haters cannot deny that putting up 61 in the home of basketball is an amazing feat.
Any road trip that includes setting a record is pretty amazing.
4. They beat the Celtics, the defending champions, at home, in OT, on the back end of a back-to-back
Boston is really good at home, and that home crowd is intense. Furthermore, the game feels like a playoff game, a rematch of the Finals, and the last time the Lakers were in the building they were embarrassed.
This doesn't even take into account the fact that Boston is considered by many to be the best team in the league, with only nine losses. Also, the Lakers had to face them after playing against Toronto the night before.
I know there are plenty of you out there who think that Fisher committed a foul at the end, however, after watching the play several times, including in slow motion, it's clear that Fisher didn't get a hand on Pierce.
It was unfortunate that KG fouled out, but that is the game of basketball. Some would call his fifth foul ticky-tack, but he should have been prepared since the refs had been calling questionable fouls throughout the game. However, it would have been nice to see KG in to the end.
5. Handed the Cavs their first home loss to finish the six-game trip
LeBron James is really good. Like All-Star, Olympic gold medalist good, and his team has been equally as good at home. Twenty-three home games straight without a loss. In fact, they haven't lost a game since last season’s playoffs. They are the team who doesn't lose at home.
Couple this with the fact that it's the end of a long road trip that included an OT victory just two days before against Boston, and Kobe Bryant not feeling good, Cleveland must have been feeling very secure with this game.
However, no one took into account that when Lamar Odom applies himself, good things happen. Lamar had a double-double, in the third quarter alone. He went hard to the basket and was all over the boards.
Indeed, while rehearsals were going on for the event that kept them out of Staples Center, the Lakers showed that they could power through the end of their road trip and come out with a victory.
Anyone who witnessed this past Laker road trip would have trouble denying how good the team looked, especially after the loss of Andrew Bynum.
As the NBA's only team with less than 10 losses, it's going to be hard to not project them as the best team in the NBA, especially after head-to-head wins on the road against the other two teams at the top of the NBA.
It's going to be an exciting sprint to the end after the All-Star break.
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