December 27, 2009

The Lakers' Gift to the NBA: The Way to Beat Them

Prior to the Christmas game against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Los Angeles Lakers were pretty much the gold standard in the NBA. But after the Lakers lost, there was suddenly a collective warm, fuzzy feeling around the NBA-- there was hope for the teams and fans of the rest of the league.

The Lakers were transformed to a version of the team several years ago when Kobe Bryant contributed 50% of the team's offense and the rest of the team were just token players, like bungling henchmen to the cartoon villains. In the game, Kobe scored 35, but needed 32 shots. That 32 shots represented a third of the team's total attempts. Moreover, the rest of the starters (Ron Artest, Andrew Bynum, Derek Fisher, and Pau Gasol) managed to produce 35 points together.

The Cavaliers reminded the league that this is how you beat the champs-- you make them a top-heavy, one man show and get tough with them on the defensive end. The Cavaliers sliced the uninspired Lakers defense en route to a 56% shooting bonanza. The Lakers? They had trouble putting the ball through the hoop, no thanks to pesky, long-armed defense from the Cavs.

If you ask me, the defeat created the same effect last year when the Lakers defeated the then defending champions Boston Celtics--  it showed that the Lakers can be stomped and crushed mercilessly. If you're players and fans of the contenders for the championship the year (Boston Celtics, Orlando Magic, Cleveland Cavaliers, Denver Nuggets , Dallas Mavericks) you have your holiday gift wrapped in the Lakers' collective hides.

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