Pivot Points: The Lakers Are Flexing Their Muscles, Hitting Their Stride

Hadarii JonesSenior Writer IDecember 2, 2009

LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 01:  Lamar Odum #7 of the Los Angeles Lakers is greeted by Kobe Bryant #24 as he leaves the game leading the New Orleans Hornets during the fourth quarter at Staples Center on December 1, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

There are various truths that can be gleaned from the Los Angeles Lakers' dismantling of the New Orleans Hornets last night. Some of them are real, some of them are perceived, but all of them are obvious.

For one, the Lakers' win, coupled with the blow-out loss suffered by the Phoenix Suns, left Los Angeles with the best record in the Pacific Division, Western Conference, and the entire NBA.

That win also elevated the Lakers' current winning streak to seven, which is the longest streak in the league, albeit against competition that has been less than spectacular.

In fact, out of the seven teams the Lakers defeated, only two, the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Hornets, seem to have any real shot at making the postseason.

Two of the victories came at the hands of what some may consider to be the worst teams in the league, the New York Knicks and the New Jersey Nets, but this shouldn't diminish the Lakers' accomplishment.

This is, after all, the NBA, a league where multiple winning streaks can be hard to come by. Just ask the Suns and the Denver Nuggets.

All of the above-mentioned pieces of information are pretty much real truths with very little room for debate, and the general perception is that the Lakers have begun to flex their formidable muscles in the midst of this streak.

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None of their seven wins were really any type of contest, as the Lakers won each by double figures. The wins that were close were a result of opponent points scored in garbage time, long after the game had been decided.

All three of the Lakers' losses, against the Dallas Mavericks, the Denver Nuggets, and the Houston Rockets, came without the services of Pau Gasol, and it should be noted that all three are potential playoff teams.

The Lakers have hit their stride with Gasol in the lineup, going undefeated since his return, and are playing some of the best basketball in the NBA this season.

Their continuity on offense has returned and their defense has been dominant so far, holding the high-scoring offenses of the New York Knicks and the Golden State Warriors under 100 points.

In fact, Jack in the Box has been pretty busy with its taco promotion that gives free tacos to Laker ticket holders when the team holds opponents under 100 points, because during their streak not one team has cracked the century mark.

There are some issues that I am sure detractors will be quick to point out, and one of them is the play of the Lakers' bench, which has improved, but is still below championship standards.

The Lake Show will have to sort out that issue, but Laker fans can find solace in the performance of their top six players, who have all been playing at an extremely high level as of late.

The groove that the Lakers are in cannot be discounted and the team's star, Kobe Bryant, seems more than content to let the game come to him, and is playing like the ultimate teammate.

Center Andrew Bynum is playing with confidence and has been the best center in the NBA lately, while Gasol's impact has been felt on both ends of the court.

Lamar Odom is becoming re-accustomed to his role as a reserve and Ron Artest has been all that the Lakers could have ever hoped for, without the distracting behavior that he is capable of.

Derek Fisher continues to perform with the efficiency of a seasoned veteran, and his leadership qualities coupled with Bryant's put the Lakers in a very enviable position as they begin the transition to the meat of their schedule.

The Lakers have begun to play up to their potential and are hurtling along in full stride, while observing the rest of the NBA from the position that they ended last season: on top.