Feb. 20, 2012; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers small forward Matt Barnes (9) greets small forward Metta World Peace (15) in the second half of the game against the Portland Trail Blazers at the Staples Center. Lakers won 103-92. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-US PRESSWIRE
Just when things were looking so great, the Spurs waxed the Lakers again. It's been 10 days since the Andrew Bynum and the Kobe-less Lakers dominated the Spurs in San Antonio. It was that game, when Bynum grabbed 30 rebounds and seemed to stop anything that crossed his path, that seemed to solidify the Lakers as true contenders for the title. Since then, the Lakers have gone 3-2. Their two losses have come against those very Spurs the Lakers looked so good against. They weren't just losses though. They were blowouts to a team they had just previously dominated. San Antonio has been able to kick it up another notch and show the Lakers that they might not be where they hoped to be.
I guess you could discount the losses if you really felt the need to make excuses. No Kobe for Tuesday night's loss, and a just returned Kobe in last night's drubbing. I can't. No matter the circumstances, the Lakers should be good enough to avoid blowout losses to the same team in a matter of days. If you ask me, the main reason for back-to-back thumping from the Spurs lies solely in Mike Brown's inability to make proper adjustments. How else could you explain the Spurs being able to pull a 180, while the Lakers seemed to get more confused? The Spurs had their way in the 3rd-Quarter, and it broke the game open. Unfortunately, 3rd-quarter crappers have been a trend for the Lakers this season. What is it the Lakers coaching can't see that opposing staffs of good teams notice and exploit with ease? Greg Popovich might be the best coach in the NBA now that King Philip is retired, and Pop just ran circles around Mike Brown and left the Lakers in search of answers with the playoffs only two games away. San Antonio is supposedly team the Lakers would rather see?
I'm not worried about "if" the Lakers are good enough to get back to the Finals. Talent-wise, in spite of a terribly weak bench, I feel the Lakers are certainly talented enough. I do worry if the coach is good enough to coach them there. This version of the Lakers doesn't have the room for error previous championship Lakers teams have enjoyed. The "defense" is nowhere near consistent, especially against team with coaches that make the proper adjustments. Mike Brown is supposed to be a defensive coach and would you be able to tell if you didn't know? The San Antonio losses aren't the end of the world. Overall, the Lakers are much better now than at any point in the season, but it's too late in the season for for the Lakers to look so confused on defense when their coach is supposed to be a defensive specialist, then continue to have no answer for adjustments other teams make.
Anyway, Metta World Peace and Matt Barnes both deserve the Player of the Week. I just can't get over how good these two have been recently. I'm even more impressed since small forward was supposed to be a weak-link position for the Lakers. Instead, it's the only position the Lakers can boast they are actually go two deep. Might even be three deep if Devin Ebanks keeps on looking solid in his time on the court. They're playing their best at the most important time of the season, and it doesn't matter if Kobe's wearing purple and gold, or some fancy skinny tie - these two are getting it done on both ends of the floor every night now.
Other receiving consideration were Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol, but they were nixed by Mike Brown's inability to adjust to Pop's mind-fucking. From 30 rebounds for Bynum to only 2 rebounds when he seemed engaged? Mike Brown needs to fix that. That makes four POTW's for Lakers small forwards. Congrats.
*Ramon Sessions? Pick it up buddy. You're in a slump at the worst time, and you've never experienced the pressure of being a Laker in the playoffs. You're going to be ready, right? Right?
4/15 vs. Dallas Mavericks:
4/17 vs. San Antonio Spurs:
4/18 @ Golden State Warriors:
4/20 @ San Antonio Spurs: