I have been dreading opening up the laptop and pushing these keys for the last hour and a half. Emotions running through my body as though I have been dumped, cheated on, and let down. For ninety-one games I have sat quarter-by-quarter watching the “most talented” team in the NBA attempt to make it back to the NBA Finals and hang one more banner in the rafters of Staples Center.
All season long we knew this could be the year. We had the pieces put into place and the motivation of being embarrassed from the previous years Finals fueling our fire. The Lakers came out of the gates hot and on a mission. The first fifteen games of the season, the Lakers looked unstoppable and hungry, the way King James and the Cavs look now. Then the boys in purple and gold got complacent, got relaxed, and developed a very bad habit. It was the first time since the departure of Shaq where the Lakers seemed as though they could score at will. We had Bynum and Gasol putting up All Star like numbers inside. Kobe and Fish held down the outside. Odom and Ariza averaging double doubles. Vuj and Farmar off the bench, making them look like the Bench Mob of the Kings back in the early 2000′s. It was pure offense. Yet we all know pure offense does not win Championships.
This season in Laker land was good, not great. We did not drop a game to Cleveland of Boston. Yet in the back of my mind as much as I wanted to ignore it, we took trips on the defensive end off. We relied to heavily on our offense. All season long I have had to listen to Jeff Van Gundy and Marv Albert say the Lakers took plays off, settled for threes, and did not close teams out. The Lakers would turn it on when they needed to and turn it off when they were up by sizeable leads.
All season long the Lakers would get up twenty in the fourth, have Kobe and Gasol on the bench, and some how be up by five with three left. It even got to the point in several games where the guys knees were iced up and they had to take the ice off to bring the starters back in.
Why could the Lakers not hold the lead? Why could the Lakers not show that intensity that we all know they are capable of? Why do they take plays off on the defensive end? Is it because they are too talented? Is it bad habit? Is it the laid back nature of this city and state I love so much? What ever it is, it needs to change.
What I witnessed today, as Erving “Magic” Johnson said at halftime was straight up “embarrassing”. I know I am not in that locker room, and I do not play professional sports, but seriously Lakers. What is the deal? You were up 2 games to 1 and Yao is out for the remainder of the playoffs. You had a chance to put Artest and the Rockets on the ropes, yet you did not. The game was over after the first five minuets of play. Did you think the Rockets were going to give you the series? Did you think they were going to just not show up?
I thought that the game one loss was a good thing for Los Angeles. I thought it was going to be their wakeup call. I thought it was going to fuel the fire. I was correct, well for two games. Yet as the Lakers have done all season long, they have blown the lead, they have let the “underdog” back in it, and given the guys in Houston confidence.
I have to hand it to Battier and Brooks. They straight up killed it today and sent yet another message to Los Angeles. They played great. Houston came and laid it on us from the tip off. As the series shifts back to Los Angeles all I can do is sit around and wait. Wait to see how the Lakers come out, with their backs against the wall while the Rockets are playing with house money.
Can the Lakers play like we all know they can or will they play like we have seen them play all season long? Do the Lakers have that killer instinct? Allen Iverson said it best; “I would rather have more heart than talent any day.” Today the heart beat out the talent. Lets see if the talent can get that heart, lets see if there is any heart in Los Angeles. As a die-hard fan it is difficult to question my team like this but when are they going to play the way we know they can?
I guess we will find out Tuesday at 7:30.