Okay, Laker fans, let’s take a look back at the week that was, starting with the Phoenix Suns coming to town.
Triple OT?!?!? Holy smokes Batman!! What a ball game. It seems like every time the Lakers and the Suns clash, it’s worth tuning in for. Let’s start with this right now: Steve Nash and Channing Frye played an amazing game. Those three Channing Frye free throws in OT? Clutch. Steve Nash—a couple of those last second passes to teammates to score including one as you’re falling out of bounds? I mean come on!
I was kind of feeling bad that Steve Nash doesn’t have a championship, but then I remembered that his Suns knocked the Lakers out of the playoffs a couple of times and I got over it. Regardless, he is still Hall of Fame.
So what can we take from this win?
Glass half empty view—gosh, that was a lot of minutes and a lot of effort against a team that is really a non-playoff threat. It’s lucky however that the Suns disdain defense because triple OT against a team that does would have meant who knows what kind of battered and bruised Laker team. Can you imagine a triple OT game against the Celtics?!?
Bench—lost the big lead. This should be heavy film study for the entire second unit. You cannot get waxed like that in the playoffs. The team counts on you to spell the starters and minimally not fritter away big leads. This is as good an example as any to study and learn from. If you draw OKC in the playoffs it’s going to be a track meet just like the Suns.
Glass half full view—Lakers showed playoff level grit. Especially the starters who were in for a larger than normal amount of time. Another great effort from Matt Barnes. (At least for as long as he was in.) Great hustle, stayed moving to help create lanes and shots and dropped a couple of sweet baskets. Love his energy lately.
Great effort from Lamar Odom too. Hot hand and kept moving the ball and getting open.
Takeaways for future
Attention Lakers—you cannot blow off playing defense in the first half and expect any other outcome than what you got. YOU left the door open for the Suns. And then Steve Nash started raining treys, Frye followed suit and next thing you know your 21 point lead has evaporated.
If you’re in a match with a speedy fast break team, don’t whine and complain for the foul while the opponent is racing back the other way. Either the ref is going to call it or not. But it’s easy for teams to beat you in transition when it’s five on four.
Still, a win’s a win.
Next up—the Clippers. Another fun uptempo game, more like a pickup game and again, pretty light on defense. But it’s nice now to be able to watch the Clippers and especially Blake Griffin and his thrilling style of play. I hope Donald Sterling (no relation) knows how lucky he is to have such an exciting young player. It’s still Varsity versus JV when the Lakers play the Clippers, but it’s a lot more fun these days. The Lakers prevail.
A win’s a win.
Finally, the week wraps up with the New Orleans Hornets on Sunday night.
Shannon Brown to Blake Griffin: “You think you’re the only one who can dunk? I’ll see you and I’ll raise you a mid-flight hand switch highlight reel basket.” Okay, so maybe not as dramatic as dunking over a Kia, but still. It was pretty sweet.
So.....I’ll admit it. I'm officially on the Ron Artest love train. Let me explain. I don’t know what it is since he has arrived at the Lakers, but he has blossomed. No one was more critical than I of Artest after the fiasco of Malice in the Palace. Remember the brawl in the stands at Detroit? I got into a big argument with a friend of mine about this. My position was: Artest is a jerk. This behavior cannot be tolerated. My friend had a much more measured view. While, agreeing that it was not okay, he understood how it could happen. His point was that these are proud, finely tuned athletes on a hair trigger. What do you think is going to happen if someone hurls a beverage and invective at them?
We agreed to disagree on this topic.
So when the Lakers signed Artest in 2009, I was ambivalent. I knew the Lakers needed Artest's defense and toughness to get past the probable finals opponent (Celtics), but I felt it was a deal with the devil. All season long I worried about it. But Ron Ron came up big in the playoffs and was a direct cause of their Finals playoff win against Boston. If you've never seen the footage of the postgame of the 2010 finals, head over to Youtube. First of all you'll see a side of Kobe that the public rarely sees: Charming, smiling and joyously charismatic. But even better is Artest. Recall, that immediately after the Lakers won, they cut to Ron as the mad celebration went on all around him on the floor at Staples and he publicly thanked his shrink.
Seriously......On national TV, the first person he gave credit to for the win was his shrink. Since then, he has been a tireless advocate for mental health issues. If you don't know, he auctioned off his championship ring and gave the proceeds to mental health causes. Sunday on the pregame show Lakers Live, they showed him visiting a children's mental health facility.
This is kind of a big deal, especially in pro sports where any reliance on a shrink could easily stigmatize one as soft. I'm incredibly proud of Artest. I was wrong about him and I am thrilled to admit it. Keep up the good work, Ron Ron.
And remember, a win’s a win. Lakers fans will take it.