November 3, 2008

Lakers Looking Strong in Opening Week

It has only been one week and three games for the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA's 2008-2009 season, but the Lakers are making the experts look like sages so far.

Three games for the team translated into three wins: A big blow-out against the Oden-less Portland Trailblazers in the season opener, another serving of Los Angeles Clipper domination in the next game, and a come-from behind win over Carmelo Anthony and the Denver Nuggets. The average winning margin for those three games is 21 points.

It seems the Lakers are hell-bent on forgetting the last game of their 2007-2008 season game (an embarrassing 35-point loss to the hated Boston Celtics) and are showing how the can lock down teams and come from behind to win a game. Coach Phil Jackson must be happy that in those three games, reigning MVP Kobe Bryant only logged an average of 32 minutes and forward Pau Gasol an average of 36 minutes. This rest is crucial to keep the top players fresh as the season goes on.

More bright spots: Trevor Ariza is giving the perimeter defense a much needed boost. I think his defense can hold on its own against the top small forwards and shooting guards in the West, like Ron Artest, Tracy McGrady, Rudy Gay and Carmelo Anthony. Lamar Odom has also been quiet about his sixth man role, which is a good thing off the court.

However there are things of concern:

  • Speaking of Lamar Odom, his play off the bench has yielded mixed results. He's a good floor leader for the second unit, but his play has not been producing top sixth man numbers.
  • Andrew Bynum has played poorly, despite the resolution of his contract extension situation.
  • Sasha Vujacic is shooting poorly: 35% from the field, 33% from deep. (To think I vouched for this guy!)
The Lakers are going to have plenty of rest the next week. I do think the game against the Houston Rockets on November 9 is a must watch.

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