From a very young age, I've had a very simple philosophy that has allowed me to lead a happy and fulfilling life. That philosophy really has only one tenet: There's very little in this world worth getting upset about. If your grandmother dies, or you break your leg, sure, feel free to let it get to you a bit. But if somebody cuts you off on the freeway, or you have to wait longer than normal to get your lunch, there really is no point in letting it effect you. I've used this strategy to great success and it's allowed me to live a mostly stress free life. I very much recommend it.
Ironically, sports is where my philosophy breaks down. Maybe it's my uber-competitiveness, maybe it's because sports isn't as fun if you don't care about it, or maybe I just need one area of my life where I have to lose control. Regardless, the fact remains, when sports (or games of any kind) are involved, I lose my mind. It took me until almost adulthood to learn how to not be a poor sport when I lost at something. And God forbid if the team that I root for loses a game. My wife knows that, depending on how surprising or dramatic the loss is, I'm to be left alone for a period that can last anywhere from 15 minutes to two days.
Normally, last night's loss to the Mavericks would be at least a few hours of moping/anger. The Lakers got shellacked, 94-80, and the game wasn't even really that close. The Lakers were done in by the triple threat combination, poor offensive execution, poor defensive execution, and poor ... nah, I'm not going to talk about that. And yet, as the final seconds ticked off the clock, I found myself wanting for any emotion at all. I wasn't angry, I wasn't upset, I wasn't annoyed. I also wasn't happy, joyful, or ecstatic. If anything, I was simply bored.
And you know why this disaster of a game for the Lake Show was given such a reprieve from any grief or fury? Because it's just not worth it. If you wear your heart on your sleeve for this team, night in and night out, you'll be devastated by mid March. I applaud you if you have the courage to do so, but I've come to decide that I can't live and die with the Lakers all the time. That raw level of emotion gets saved for late Spring.
Be happy about Shannon Brown, the one player who actually played a good game. He shot the ball well, and gave us the one moment that might have caused us not to see tonight's game as a colossal waste of time.
If you are angry, that's fine. There's so, so much to be angry about in this game. We'll break down as much as we need to after the jump
Here's a list of good things to be angry about
- Be angry at Kobe. Kobe started off slow, missing some jump shots he usually hits. His response? More difficult jump shots. Those didn't fall, so he responded with further away jump shots. Yes, when he drove, he certainly wasn't getting any ... nah, I'm not going to talk about that. Regardless, a pretty terrible game for the Mamba, especially considering that he wasn't really up to defensive snuff either. Lots of rotating off his man, and when your man is Jason Terry, you might want to just go ahead and stay on him.
- Don't be mad at Ron Ron. He had a rough game, to be sure. He continues to struggle with his shot, but he's not making bad decisions. He picked up his first technical foul, but when you get called for a charge 90 feet from the basket after you just picked up a steal that you were trying to get under control ... nah, I'm not gonna talk about that. Artest had 5 fouls in 23 minutes, 3 of them offensive. The foul trouble definitely took him out of his game. Whether that foul trouble was deserved, well, I'm not going to talk about that. Oh, and by the way, Artest was -2 in his 23 minutes. The rest of the starters averaged 35 minutes, and were all in the -20 range. So the 10-12 minutes that Artest lost because of his foul trouble, the Lakers lost by 18 in those minutes.
- Be mad at a bench that seems to have no desire to play the game the right way. Actually, of all the things, I really am mad at this. What has happened to this bench defies all basketball logic. Two years ago, we had one of the better benches in the league, offensively potent, difficult to contain, capable of providing a huge spark in every game. Almost every major contributor from that bench is still on the team, and all of those contributors were very young players who were playing very good basketball. And every single one of them looks like a player that doesn't belong on any bench in the NBA right now, much less ours. There's a general rule of thumb in the NBA, as in life. Youth tends to get better at what they do with experience. So what the fuck is going on with our bench? How can it be that we have three young players (Vujacic, Farmar, Walton) who were considerably better two years ago than they are now? This is a mystery that I can not explain, and one that plagues me greatly. Somewhere, deep down inside, this bench has the talent to compete with anybody in the league. I'm not just saying this out of my ass. It's happened before. It was there two years ago. It was there at the beginning of last year. But, as this season starts and our bench continues to be a HUGE liability, I'm beginning to lose hope that they will ever be able to recapture that success. I'm not giving up on them for a couple games, I'm giving up on them because they've been unsuccessful for longer than they were successful at this point. So, by all means, be mad at our bench.
- That said? The starters lost this game so be mad at them. Another night, another deplorable effort coming out of the 3rd quarter. They had built up enough of a lead to survive it the other night, but Vitti needs to stop spiking the halftime Gatorade with Nyquil. Most of the bench players actually were positive on the ole +/-/.
- Be angry at the shot selection. 23 three pointers, at 30% shooting on the night. That's just terrible. Terrible decisions, terrible execution. Way too much settling. The Lakers were incredibly lazy on offense tonight, from Kobe on down. First open shot from 25 feet? Take it. First less than open shot from 20 feet? Take it. Been holding the ball for 5 seconds without passing or dribbling? Take the shot. This is another thing to be angry about, not only because it caused the Lakers to lose, but because it was so fucking unappealing to watch.
- Be angry at the Lakers defense. Actually, be mad at the Lakers for giving up on the game, because their defense in the first half wasn't too bad. In fact, Lamar's defense on Das German was downright inspiring for the first half. The Mavs didn't exactly shoot lights out for the game. And be very, very mad at the Lakers vaunted free throw defense. They allowed 78% free throw shooting on the night, which was the key to the game, because of ... nah, I'm not going to talk about that.
- Be angry at all the reactionary storylines you will read over the next couple of days. About how dominant the Celtics look compared to the Lakers. About how bad the bench is. About how Mark Cuban is right about Ron Artest. I'm getting sick just thinking about all this crap.
- Be mad that the Lakers scored as many field goals as the Mavericks did and lost by double digits. And be mad at me, because I'm not going to talk about why.