Well, it all comes down to this. Kobe is telling everyone that history is going to be made this year, and that these Lakers are going to be the ones to do it. I love the enthusiasm, but I hope to see the words he spoke translate to on-the-court play.
I still have a hard time saying that the Mavericks are the better team, but through three games they have definitely played like a better team than Los Angeles. In Games 1 and 2, I felt the Lakers outplayed Dallas for the first 45 minutes of the game, but when it came to closing it down, they didn't execute nearly well enough.
Many people are concerned when it comes to how coach Jackson acted during Game 3, saying it isn't good that he was so aggressive with Pau Gasol on the sidelines. When I hear this, I have to think about why it's a bad thing?
I understand Phil is known for being the Zen Master, and that his hands-off approach has been a big reason for his long-term success in this league; but when it comes down to it, I think he is trying anything and everything he can in order to get Pau to play like he knows he can.
When I saw Phil getting animated on the sideline, I loved it. I wanted him to do something, because sitting back and letting the players figure it out hasn't worked thus far.
If you watched Game 3, then you have to be impressed with what Andrew Bynum did. He was fiery, passionate and played a very good game. Which is why the fact that he didn't touch the ball once down the stretch infuriates me so much. The Lakers went to him all game, but when it really mattered, they forgot he was there.
I love Kobe, and I am grateful for everything he has done throughout his career, but he has to stop trying to be the hero at the end of every game. I look at his contested fadeaway he took with roughly two minutes left, when Lamar was wide open behind the arc, as the turning point to the game.
After that, the Mavericks took full control and didn't look back.
While I'm on the subject of Kobe, I have to say that Dirk has outplayed him, especially at the end of games. You don't see Dirk force up shots he shouldn't take, and when he's double teamed he moves the ball to the open man.
If the Lakers are going to have ANY shot of coming back, they have to execute better at the end of the game. They can't forget that they have Andrew Bynum, Kobe can't force shots, and they will have to watch the Mavericks' three-point shooters a lot better.
Today I really hope to see Pau bring his A-game, if he can play at the level Lakers fans have become accustomed to, I really think that in itself can be enough to push them over the hump.
I would like to see Kobe attack the hoop, Lamar getting inside more and not taking so many long shots, and I would definitely like to see them keep Andrew involved from the very beginning to the very end. I loved the fire he played with in Game 3, and if everyone played with that kind of energy today, who knows what can happen.
This is where we see what Kobe, Phil and the rest of the Lakers are made of. This has the potential to be the greatest thing that any of these players has achieved, and I would love to be a part of it.
If it's going to happen, a lot has to change.
This post is also featured on my personal blog, The L.A. Minute.
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