I have been reading several articles all around the ‘net today regarding the Los Angeles Lakers 0-2 start, with words like “panic”, “worried”, “slumping”, and “Is Mike Brown already on the hot seat?” strewn about. My response: shut the hell up. All of you.
Here’s the thing, and this may surprise some people: it’s an 82-fucking-game season. Sure, those nutjobs that proclaimed Kobe and Co. to be the first 82-0 team are out in the cold, but those people don’t count anyway. Instead of looking solely at the W-L, let’s pick apart the games to see exactly what’s up, and to figure out how much we really have to worry about the precious purp-and-yellow.
Let’s start with the loss to the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday 10/30:
– The bench has to get more involved. The starters all had 34+ minutes, with Pau Gasol leading the pack with 40. Older gents like Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash can’t survive a full season on 34+ MPG. Easy to fix though, and will likely come with time and continued gelling of the team. Steve Blake and Antawn Jamison are comfortable enough to get 20+ minutes a piece.
– Metta World Peace had an off night. Nothing to read from this one; sometimes you’re on, and sometimes you go 1-8 from the field, including 0-3 from beyond the arc. No “fix” needed per se, beyond having a short memory and forgetting about it.
– Nash needs to run away with the spoon. Get it? Dish? Mother Goose callback? Anyone? Poor jokes to the side, Nash will need to up his assist game as time goes on. Also, being injured already doesn’t help. In the same vein of MWP, no real “fix” is needed, although the injury is of some concern. Luckily Blake can plug-in to this offense pretty well, considering this is his 3rd season with the Lakers.
And for their loss on Halloween to the Portland Trail Blazers:
– Dwight Howard. That’s what they brought him in to do. 33 points and 14 boards, an absolutely dominating presence down low. Great from the line too, going 15-19. Not surprising for a guy who has averaged a double-double his entire career, but very refreshing to see that he’s playing like he’s supposed to. you will see more games like this in the future – something like 40 pts. and 20 boards is not out of the question at all.
– Bench scoring. In the game against the Mavs, the bench scored 17 points. In this game, the bench scored 15 – despite Blake getting nearly double the minutes that Nash played, due to Nash’s injury. Blake and Jamison specifically have to really step it up to give the Lakers some depth, or else the starters will burn out from having to put in so many minutes. Both Gasol and Howard logged 40+ minutes against the Trail Blazers, so we’ll see if this is a theme or just a one-off issue.
– Turnovers, turnovers, turnovers. The Lakers nearly doubled their amount of turnovers between the Mavs game and the Blazers game, going from 14 to 24. Most of those came from MWP and Kobe, who gave the rock away 6 and 7 times, respectively. That is one trend that they want to nip in the bud sooner rather than later, as it’s likely harder to correct than the other stat-based performance issues.
– Fast break point differential. The Mavs got 6 more points off the fast break, but the Blazers more than doubled that differential, out-pointing the Lakers by 13 off the break. With Nash old and banged up, and no other burners on the squad, the Lakers will likely not be getting many points off the break, so they have to do everything they can to prevent others from capitalizing. That means battling hard for every offensive board, and hustling back to avoid 2-on-1s. Dwight’s size will likely curtail some of the Lob City antics from their Pacific Division citymates in the Clippers, and also make other teams think twice about pushing the ball quick down low.
Overall, the Lakers have nothing to worry about… yet. If they’re sitting 2-8 or 3-7 after their first 10, then maybe it’s time to take a look a bit deeper and figure some things out. But for now, let’s temper our judgement and not freak out, k? Besides, the Nets have it all on lock this year, so it’s a moot point.
P.S.: I tried to work this in above and could not, so you get it at the end. Cannnnnnn… youuuuuuuuuuu… dig iiiiiiiiiiiiiiit??? (Of course you can, duh.)