Phew! Now that the potential 0-3 disaster was averted by blowing out the Utah Jazz, let’s diagnose how the purple and gold fared in their one and only set of back to back to back games.
Coming into this season, we knew the Lakers had the potential to make another run at a ring if everything fell into place. We also knew if a couple minor things go astray, such as an injury or two to their key players (see: Kobe’s wrist, Pau Gasol’s shoulder and Josh McRobert’s sprained toe) and this Laker team suddenly drops from the upper echelon of teams in the west to the middle of the pack.
Before the season I wrote that I expected the Lakers to come out of the gates slowly due to the players needing time to adapt to Mike Brown’s new system, coupled with Andrew Bynum’s suspension. But just because I predicted it, doesn’t make it any easier to come to terms with. A couple minutes into the first quarter of the matchup with the Jazz, when Gasol fumbled a perfectly placed drop-off pass from Kobe out of bounds, I tossed my remote halfway across my living room. I was pushing the panic button, and I refused to stop pressing it until Metta World Peace righted the ship with a thunderous dunk.
Prior to outlasting the Jazz, the Lakers were fulfilling every pessimist’s fantasy. To put it bluntly, they look like a team in transition. Just take a look at the backcourt for instance: Kobe and Derek Fisher have been around the block more times than you can count but one of their backups, rookie Andrew Goudelock, is an enthusiastic young shooter who doesn’t have a clear grasp of the game at this level yet. Also, their new starting small forward, Devin Ebanks, appeared in a grand total of 20 games last year under Phil Jackson’s regime. Teams in transition normally don’t win championships, but as we learned from the previous lockout, expect the unexpected during a shortened season.
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We all knew Lamar Odom’s departure to Dallas would leave an irreplaceable hole on the bench, but suddenly beyond Kobe, Gasol, Fisher, Bynum and World Peace it was difficult to pin-point who was going to contribute what to the Lakers this year.
The Lakers have shown their fans several aspects of their personality this season. From holding the Chicago Bulls to 25 percent shooting in the second half, to being completely outplayed by the Kings, before another passable defensive effort against a struggling Jazz team. Not a whole lot can be taken away from these first few games beyond the Lakers’ new identity as a blue collar team.
Here’s a look at the good, the bad and the ugly from the first three games of the season.