Wednesday, May 5, 2010

6 Down, 10 To Go

I'm willing to bet the Lakers said this before Game 2 "Alright, so the bench let us down in Game 1 but you know what, we still ran this team out of here. Let's do it again and THIS time, don't blow the lead!"

Message delivered because after a slow start, the Lakers were running and gunning like it was Showtime. Their size allowed them to dominate the rebounding edge and created way more fastbreaks than I've seen in a long time from this team. Kobe (30 pts, 8 dimes) was in full facilitator mode as Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum found easy buckets and made their presence felt.

They resembled Oklahoma City with how they ran the floor and blocked shots. Bynum showed Lakers executives why they shouldn't have mentioned him in a trade with Chris Bosh (who watched front and center). Even Lamar Odom got in the mix with solid rebounding.

I was saying during the game that it was like Showtime III (true Lakers fans remember that the first year of the Shaq era was dubbed Showtime II briefly). Yes, they had a lot of turnovers but that happens when you run. If the Lakers can get into this groove and exploit Utah's lack of size, they'll start looking like a title team again.

The only problem is Ron Artest still forcing his offensive woes on Lakers fans. When you can barely make lay-ups, why do you keep shooting 3's? I said on Twitter that we should have a drinking game for whenever Artest misses an ill-advised 3 or an easy lay-up. It didn't take long for people to reply that we'd be in an ambulance by halftime.

Now the Lakers have to go that always ear-comforting arena in Salt Lake City. They still have to win Game 3 with that same urgency and Game 6 vs. the Thunder notwithstanding - I'm not convinced they're a great road team just yet.

But I am convinced that they are playing their best ball in the last month and a half. I give the Thunder credit like I gave Houston and Denver credit last year for toughening us up for Orlando.

Speaking of Orlando - great win against the "Hawks" last night. I'm glad Atlanta bothered to show up for a quarter because I didn't have the heart to watch a team get their heart ripped open, stomped on and dunked through the 36 Chambers of Death.

The only thing sadder was watching Cleveland on Monday roll over and let Rajon Rondo (who finally got All-D team love) ruin LeBron James getting his second MVP. I'm watching that series extra closely because I think Cleveland has to show they can take a punch in the playoffs.

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