Want a good fantasy tip? Pick up free agents who will be playing a game against the Los Angeles Lakers. They’re more than likely to set a career high record. At the very least, a season high.
For reasons beyond all comprehensibility in the most basic of foundational truths, the Lakers could not focus against a Milwaukee Bucks team whose roster was devoid of Carlos Delfino, Corey Maggette, and Brandon Jennings. Earl Boykins, the backup point guard, set a season high with 22 points, draining 4-of-5 three-pointers that ultimately put the game on lockdown. He’s listed at 5’5″. So much for the length of the Lakers.
Prior to the game, Kobe Bryant remarked to his teammates, “Don’t spoil Christmas by losing to the Bucks.”
And so they responded by neatly packaging black charcoals in gold-and-purple wrapping paper for every turnover that converted to an extra two points away from taking what should have been an easy victory at home. Matt Barnes failed to bank on a transition play, Lamar Odom carried the ball, Ron Artest missed both free throws, and the list continues.
Having finished a road trip on a 6-1 record, the Lakers fell asleep in the comfort of being home. Passes that didn’t connect? Walking? Or worse, flat-footed rebounding? Ersan Ilyasova was practically left alone under the rim, as he scored on second-chance opportunities.
For a guy who averages 8.2 points per game, embarrassingly the Lakers allowed him to finish with 17 points tonight. Defense was nil and there’s nothing to blame this time, except themselves; not the absence of Bynum, not a long and arduous road trip, and definitely not the challenge of playing an elite team.
This is uncharacteristic of any back-to-back champion. Maybe having two rings has the effect of lulling players to sleep, but I can never imagine Michael Jordan falling for that trap. Nor Kobe for that matter. Bryant was the only one who came to play tonight, and it’s no wonder the frustration he must have felt as he got ejected from the game with two minutes remaining.
How will the Lakers match up against the Miami Heat on Christmas? My guess is, horribly. Miami is known for scoring in transition, and with the turnover rate that plagues the Lakers, we’ll be lucky if it’s not a complete blow-out. The key against the Heat is to protect the ball, pack the paint and get the rebounds, and force their offense to outside jumpers.
But watching Boykins go off from downtown tonight (not to mention the Phoenix Suns’ ridiculous three-point attempts in the last bout), even that last strategy could prove to be fatal.
The only consolation is that despite all the hype, it’s just a regular season game. We’ve lost to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Christmas last year, with angry fans throwing foam hands onto the parquet floor, and somehow, we came out on top clutching a trophy with our hands.
Still, Kobe must be barking in the locker room as they prepare for what could be another hype to fan the flame of Heat’s already overblown ego.
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