SACRAMENTO, CA - DECEMBER 26: Metta World Peace #15 of the Los Angeles Lakers walks back down court during the first half of their game against the Sacramento Kings at Power Balance Pavilion on December 26, 2011 in Sacramento, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
I don't have too much more to say after my editorial yesterday regarding my thoughts and observations on the Lakers; as nothing I saw last night against the Jazz really changed my mind about anything I said. The Lakers still did play rather similar to the Lakers of last season, albeit perhaps a better stretch of last season than whichever they channeled against the Kings; helped of course by the Jazz playing like, well, a young and inexperienced team which has played no NBA basketball in about 8 months. Thus, click through the jump for some random thoughts and musings on the back-to-back-to-back in dot point form.
Now that we've addressed the elephant in the room, we may proceed.
- I always wondered if there was any reason, typical Ron-Ron craziness asides, for Metta World Peace's name change; and after watching the above video numerous times, I think I might have an idea as to what said reason was. I can't help but chuckle every time a commentator mentions his name, but no mention will match Kevin Harland's playcall on the above dunk for sheer epic-ness.
- Odd as it may sound, Josh McRoberts has underwhelmed me. Defensively, he's been good, but offensively he's looked like a benchwarmer. Indeed, he's almost being outplayed by Murphy. Granted, I knew next to nothing about him before Mitch signed him, but considering the Lakers used their only major asset in terms of free agent signings on him, I guess I expected something more - though considering he can't create his own shots, his total reliance upon ball movement and set offense (fast breaks aside) means we won't really see his full effect offensively until Mike Brown's playbook is fully utilised.
- It seems Mike Brown is continuing Phil Jackson's unbelievably irritating tradition of playing starters, particularly Pau, deep into the fourth quarter of blowouts. I know Murphy fouled out, but there wouldn't have been any real danger into trotting out the four-small-forward lineup a bit earlier.
- On the topic of Pau Gasol, it's nice of him to finally show up, now if only he could do so more consistently.
- I said before the Jazz played like a young inexperienced team which hadn't played a game in 8 months; which in retrospect doesn't sound quite right considering the Jazz matched the Lakers' extremely low 9.3% TO rate. However, I'm guessing much of that was due to so many of the Jazz's 'possessions' being putback attempts off of offensive rebounds. It's really amazing how many gimmes they missed.
- Asides from his stupid attempt to pass out of a trap against Chicago, Kobe's been playing fine in my book. 27/7/6 on 55%TS; more than one may have expected considering his numerous injuries and age. I agree with what Marv said last night: people say Kobe should shoot less, but as long as he's the only person on the squad who can create shots off the dribble, he's quite frankly going to have to keep trying to find such shots, which will invariably result in some bad ones. Particularly with Bynum out, Kobe's had to have a high usage rate. He still desperately needs that other perimeter creator to play off of, though.
- If Murphy continues to build on his early performances and performs close to his '09-'10 levels towards the end of the season, he may well end up being the biggest steal of the offseason.
- Metta World Peace is doing great in his role as Sixth Man, and Ebanks has been playing as well as one could possibly expect for a player who spent much of last season in the D-League; but I still can't comprehend why Ebanks is ahead of Barnes in the depth chart to the point where Ebanks is getting 26 minutes and Barnes isn't even seeing the court. I thought perhaps it was that Barnes didn't keep fit over the lockout or was still not fully healed from injury, but he played pretty well against Sacramento. I don't think he should be taking Ebanks' starting spot and all of his minutes, far from it, but there's still no excuse for Luke Walton to see the court whilst Barnes does not. I thought I even heard a "We Want Barnes" chant last night, the loudest of the night. It's definitely weird.
- Holy crap, Derek Fisher and Steve Blake actually looked serviceable. Though I'm guessing a fair amount of that had to do with the fact that Deron Williams' successor Devin Harris was next to invisible on the court.
- I was amazed how well the Lakers handled playing a back-to-back-to-back. Granted, adrenaline would've fueled them on opening night due to their last NBA memories being that of being swept by the Mavericks, and games two and three didn't really involve much effort on their part; but the fact that they were running breaks on the last game of the back-to-back-to-back is extremely impressive for one of the oldest teams in the League. Unfortunately, surviving the back-to-back-to-back physically didn't manifest itself in wins.
- In conclusion, and the TNT commentators touched on this last night, I'm still waiting for the Lakers to make a move for a dribble penetration / shot creator. It's the 'fool's hope' I mentioned in the season preview, that which I believe holds the key to the Lakers' championship aspirations this season. So, for the sake of something to do, I leave you with the question: Who do you think the Lakers could realistically pursue to fill this role, and how?