After two weeks of this interesting NBA season, there are still two undefeated teams, and those two would be the Los Angeles Lakers and New Orleans Hornets. The Lakers had another impressive week, with just one sloppy-looking game on Friday night against the Raptors.
Once again this week, the Lakers showed why they may be the best team since the 1995-96 Bulls. But, we'll have to wait and see if that turns out to be true.
Week In Review
vs. Memphis Grizzlies - W 124-105 Player of the Game: Pau Gasol (23 pts, 13 rebounds)
vs. Toronto Raptors - W 108-103 Player of the Game: Pau Gasol (30 pts, 7 rebounds)
vs. Portland Trail Blazers - W 121-96 Player of the Game: Pau Gasol (20 pts, 14 rebounds, 10 assists)
We also learned many new things this week, so let's take a look at the ups and downs after these last four games.
1. Kobe Bryant's Knee Not an Issue
What a week for Kobe, as he had another three games with 20 points or more. He had an off night last night with just 12 points, but that is to be expected. He had 23 points all in the first half on Tuesday night against the Grizzlies, which is what he would end with as Jackson gave some of the bench players some more minutes.
He also dropped 30 points on Wednesday night against the Kings. He also had a triple-double in that game, which he hasn't done since January 19, 2009. He looks very comfortable from the perimeter and down low, and the knee isn't bothering him a bit, and if it is, he sure does hide it well.
Look for Kobe to continue this success through the next week and the weeks and months to come. For all the critics that have been saying "this should be his last year," think again. He looks better than ever, and also seems to be more willing to step down and look to dish the ball to the man cutting to the net, rather than take the jumper.
2. Pau Gasol Continues Impressive Start
After the opening week, Pau Gasol looked like the top PF in the league, and that hasn't changed this past week, with Gasol now averaging 24 points, 11 rebounds and five assists per game. Gasol's best game of the week came against the Trail Blazers on Sunday night, where he dropped 20 points, grabbed 14 rebounds and 10 assists for his first triple-double of the season.
It seems as though Pau is becoming the star of this team, and although Kobe still holds that role, Pau isn't far behind at all. He looked great against his brother Tuesday night versus the Grizzlies, where he really seemed to control the paint. He also has continued to develop that beautiful outside shot that keeps getting better and better. Pau is making a case for the best big man in the league right now.
3. Shannon Brown, Steve Blake and Matt Barnes Fitting in Well
What a first week it was for a very new-look bench for the Lakers. Well, that success carried over into this past week, as Shannon Brown, Steve Blake and Matt Barnes led the way for the Laker bench. The bench improved even more so after a stellar first week, increasing to 34 points per game as a bench, with Steve Blake, Matt Barnes and Shannon Brown accounting for 26 of those 34 points per game.
The three have been on fire this week, especially Steve Blake and Shannon Brown, as Brown is now averaging 10 points per game, and Blake hit four consecutive threes on Friday night against the Raptors. The three are also really starting to gel with the veterans of the team. We saw a great example of this on Sunday night against the Trail Blazers when Steve Blake threw a pass off the backboard for Pau Gasol to slam home.
Shannon Brown is really developing a great outside game. He has really been a useful substitute for Kobe as Jackson has been trying to limit his minutes. Matt Barnes has also shown great rebounding and defense, averaging six rebounds per game. Look for these three, along with the rest of the bench, to continue to gel well with the starters and veterans of the team.
This is definitely an area for improvement as the season moves on. With the wear and tear of the season, the offense may slow down, which will call for much better defense than this. The Lakers have only held two teams to under 100 points so far, and the Trail Blazers came within four of making it only one team. They are allowing 100 points per game, and are a lackluster 13th place in that category.
Defensive rebounding has also been a bit of an issue, but nothing to panic about. But getting out-rebounded 30-24 defensively by the Toronto Raptors is inexcusable.
2. Ron Artest's Shot Selection
Artest really just needs to settle down, especially from three-point range. He has been really forcing shots from the arc, and too early into the shot clock. This isn't a big issue, and I think Artest will address it. He is only averaging nine points per game so far this season, and is only shooting 39 percent from the floor. Look for this to be corrected, as I think it already has after watching the game against the Kings and Trail Blazers.
This is what absolutely killed the Lakers against the Raptors on Friday night as they blew a 13-point first quarter lead. I think the main problem was that they just got lazy and complacent. They just have to remember to finish the games, and act like it is still a tie ball game. I think Jackson will take care of that, and it won't be that big of an issue.
MY LAKERS PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Pau Gasol - averaged 23 points, 11 rebounds and five assists in the last week.
This Weeks Schedule
Tuesday, Nov. 9 vs. Minnesota Timberwolves 10:30pm EST
Thursday, Nov. 11 @ Denver Nuggets 10:30pm EST
Sunday, Nov. 14 vs. Phoenix Suns 9:30pm EST
Burning Questions This Week
Will the defense step up and improve?
Can the Lakers stay undefeated?
Will Pau continue this success?
It should be another great week of basketball for the Lakers, starting off with a very favorable game on Tuesday night against the Timberwolves. We can only wait and see if the Lakers are able to stay undefeated.