by Tim Lee
On the eve of the San Diego Chargers blowing out the Colts, the Lakers, on the other hand, had to work hard for their money. The end result was a total different outcome compared to the NFL.
Mostly due to a major stalling on the triangle offense like it was the 405 freeway, Ron looked like he was trying to dribble out of traffic and into turnovers. Pau looked way too soft again against these athletic youngsters that could block shots and his defense could have put Hibbert on the All-Star ballot tonight. When the defense begins to stutter and the killer B’s are not killing, then we have a serious problem against a hot team.
It wasn’t until the 4th quarter, when Barnes started hustling and Kobe went to work, that actually gave the Lakers any chance of coming back. Bryant had to take over the game, finishing the night with 41 points on a 14 of 33 shooting, but ultimately it proved to be useless against Hibbert's explosive double-double. Hibbert dominated the inside, on both the offense and defense, limiting Pau's game to a poor 33 percent shooting.
Lakers tend to fall asleep against teams that have sleeper players like Psycho T and Josh McRoberts and usually find ourselves out-rebounded and out-hustled. Tonight the Lakers gave away too many second-point chances to these younger players who shouldn’t have had a chance against a championship team.
One huge concern is for someone to stop the dribble penetrations and easy lay-ups by the speedy point-guard position. We need someone to come in and knock out the little guards like in the 80′s (McHale to Rambis-esque elbow or Raja choke slam. Good times) and this is the one area where Bynum’s contribution would be immediately appreciated. My first thoughts were ”Bynum, stop clubbing and get in shape so you can come back ASAP!” As the season continues, we see the effects of the missing big man, as Pau and Odom are both racking up major minutes with no center to back them up.
Finally, in tonight’s horrendous loss to the Pacers, another weakness stuck out like a sore thumb; the lack of IQ in Artest’s game. In the final 10 seconds after Kobe’s missed three, there was no reason for Ron to pull out for a three when there was an opportunity for a layup and an extension of the game. The loss can’t be pinned on a single play, but the entire night was filled with mental errors and defensive breakdowns, and as the season runs on, unless Lakers play with continual hunger and hustle, we won’t survive against better teams.
One thing for certain, I missed these games where the Lakers fans actually have to root for a comeback win. At least the Staple Center wasn’t cleared out and people stayed until the final horn, but still… drama for yo mama. Forget the tacos, let’s just get some W’s.
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