Much Needed Practice Time

As the Lakers prepare to go on their annual Grammys road trip, how much should we take out of the Lakers romping over a team as bad as the Charlotte Bobcats? Putting stock in a win like this, due the Lakers' current deficiencies, is no easy task.

One one hand, we should be glad to get the W, especially in such convincing fashion against a piss poor team. Wins are wins, and in a shortened, hectic season that afforded no real preparation, we should take what we can. But does the win give us any hint on real signs of progress heading into a roadie that could shape how the season may ultimately play out? There are some faults with these Lakers that are shown easily and definitively against good teams. Still, they are good enough to win at home, and to beat bad teams like they should. Whooping Michael Jordan's joke of a team doesn't help figure out questions the Lakers are going to have to answer if they truly fancy themselves contenders. They've yet to put it all together in many games that matter, and none away from Staples Center. Can they win on the road and can they do it against good teams?

It's not so easy to predict how the Lakers will play on this trip, but in pawing with the Bobcats, the Lakers showed some promising signs that they could start to resemble an a team with offensive discipline and flow, and shooters that can make double teams pay.

For a second straight game, the Lakers looked comfy integrating Kobe's scoring and playmaking, while making sure Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum could make use of their obvious advantages. The bench came through tonight, shaking off a sloppy mid-to-late 3rd quarter to put on a 3-pt barrage in the 4th quarter that put a bullet through the heart of the inevitable Charlotte run. The Lakers dominated the boards (47 to 34) and held the Bobcats to 73 points on 34.8% shooting. Nice! Kinda...

The Bobcats are terrible. Take a look at their roster, and you'll realize why Jordan did everything in his power to keep the lockout alive. Charlotte doesn't have a squad with a chance in hell of becoming good anytime soon, and even worse, nothing to sell their fans. They're short, untalented, and Gerald Henderson is their leading scorer. Chew on that for a bit. We Lakers fans wonder if Bynum can eventually lead this team one day, and Bobcats fans have DaSagnia Diop, DJ White, and Byron Mullens to pay to see. Let me remind you again, fat Boris Diaw plays power forward for them and they aren't running and gunning like the 7 Seconds Or Less Suns did when he spent time as a smallish power forward for them. The Bobcats are just small, untalented, and their bench makes ours look like an All-Star team.

A win against them means nada, but there were a few positives to take note of. This game was like sorely-needed practice. Hopefully, the Lakers will build upon it. Here are some stray bullets:

  • Once again, the Lakers seemed to have a better flow on offense. Kobe is able to do his scoring thing, all while sitting back, making plays, directing the offense, and working the ball through the bigs. There is a smoothness to the offense that we haven't seen yet that shows that they could be finally starting to figure it out. Nothing seems too forced.
  • What seems like it will never get figured out is the small forward rotation. If there's any other huge question mark with the team besides point guard, it's Mike Brown's obvious discontent with his small forwards. Metta World Peace started tonight. The musical chair at the three continues. This team can't hunker down until they are allowed to get comfortable.
  • Bynum did well at establishing position, but keeping an alert eye for his shooters. On two straight possessions in the 2nd quarter, he felt out the defense, then looked for Goudelock for a wide open shot. On the first play, he probably should have kept it, but on the second, he whipped a nice pass to the weak side for a made three from the rook. Bynum's ability to feel out doubles is key to how well the offense flows.
  • Andrew Goudelock was a treat once again. I like his energy. The kid has a confidence in himself we haven't seen since......Shannon Brown. Although it's good to see him step up and look to score (it seems Mike Brown gives him somewhat of a green light), keep in mind that he's a rookie. Knocking them down in streaks, at home, or against a bad team should happen. Can he keep it going on the road when the team needs it? And can this newly found confidence carry over and help him get through the inevitable slump? Remember, when Shannon was off he brought nothing else to the table, and it took a while for him to find his stroke when it was lost.
  • Jason Kapono. Good for him he knocked down a couple of shots (when he wasn't passing them up to get the ball to Goudelock). Tell him to save those memories. Wouldn't mind seeing him get cut when the Lakers look to improve with a roster move. Dude does nothing else.
  • But Kapono did lead the Lakers in +/- with +25. Flawed stat you say?
  • Kobe. 2-11 from three. Who didn't see that many attempts coming after he shot 5-9 against the Wolves? After he made that first, I immediately tried to make a bet he'd take another next time down. Yup. Kobe heat checks. Love 'em.
  • Did Derek Fisher play? Didn't really notice him much. I like it like that. Until the final shot that is.
  • Troy Murphy shot like a Pacer tonight.
  • Earlier, I mentioned the Lakers held the Bobcats to 34.8% shooting. That may be an exaggeration, since the Bobcats held themselves to 34.8% shooting. Tell Stu Lantz that indeed it does say a lot that Gerald Henderson leads the 'Cats in scoring. It says they're terrible.
  • Congrats Drew, you made the All-Star Game. Got that out of the way now? Let's play ball. Remember that 17-1 stretch last season? Be that guy now.
  • If I were Michael Jordan, I'd have drawn the line at 25% BRI if my team looked like his.
  • Jimmy Buss? Take note. Just sayin'...
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