Well, That Was Interesting…Again
Posted by hiphopmama on March 19, 2009
Golden State 106, LA Lakers 114
Okay, this shit just isn’t funny anymore. No lead is safe. Our team, purportedly the deepest and most talented in the league, looks lethargic and tired, for which there is no excuse (other than for Pau Gasol, who is still playing way too many minutes). Whether it’s the starters or the subs in the game, once we get up on a team by 12+ points they take their foot off the gas and act like they can coast to a victory on the strength of their reputation. The sad thing is, that reputation has taken a serious hit, as I’m sure even bottom of the barrel teams go into the final minutes against us thinking, “We can still get back in this,” even when trailing by double-figures. I’m not going to bother running down all the examples of big leads that disintegrated in the fourth quarter. Suffice it to say that tonight was emblematic of both our inability to close out games and our general luck (skill?) in withstanding the final barrage and coming out with a W.
The part that I absolutely don’t understand is why our players look like they hardly care while all this is going on. Defense is lax, passes are lackadaisical (I’ve had to use that term way too much lately), shoulders are slumped, heads are down, all while our opponents gain ground and confidence in our wake. Maybe they’re tired. Maybe the 82-game grind is finally starting to wear on them. Maybe they can’t stay motivated with no real race in the Western Conference. I might be able to buy any of these reasons if it weren’t for that little event that happened last summer which supposedly drives this team. I won’t go into detail – it’s both too painful and too obvious – but you know what I mean and I’m sure the players do too.
That’s the end of that rant; on to a new one. This game played out according to a very predictable script. Lakers start equivocally; eventually build up a big lead; lose said lead; regroup and build lead back up; choke down the stretch and let opponent back in it; hold on by their fingernails and walk off the court shaking their heads. Phil will use words like “disgruntledness” and “malaise” to describe our effort and will probably heap some blame on the second unit.
That sums up tonight’s game, so I won’t go into any more detail. Instead, I’m going to turn to the announcers’ pet issue tonight: whether to push for home court advantage throughout or rest players in preparation for the playoffs. I don’t think there is one right answer to this, so I would say that it’s all about hedging your bets at this point. While we’re still just a game behind Cleveland and a few ahead of Boston, there’s no point conceding the race for the best record just yet. At the same time, home court advantage against our Eastern Conference rivals means little if our key players are too tired to get out of the first or second round. I think we can survive at least to the Western Conference Finals with a B-level team, but the more games we have to play to get there the tougher it is going to be, especially if we don’t have a healthy Bynum. Right now, the number one concern has to be competing at the highest level each and every game while keeping a close eye on the minutes of Pau Gasol and Derek Fisher. I know Kobe’s getting older, but the way he competes he can play 48 minutes a night the rest of the way and still be ready – I’m not worried about him. Pau has been playing too many minutes for a while, though, and in a seven-footer I expect that wear and tear to start showing soon. Same goes for Fisher, who suffers the affliction of age as opposed to height. A lot of this playing time pressure could be alleviated if we could just HOLD A DAMN LEAD, but since we are much too forgiving of our opponents and our bench doesn’t hold up under pressure, they still have to come back in more often than not. Unfortunately, I don’t see much relief in sight for Pau, because there is no one to spell him for extended minutes except in garbage time. The only solution I can envisage is for Phil to go all Don Nelson and use a smaller speed line-up with Powell at center. He has used this tactic before, but I think we would be better served to see a five-man line-up geared toward speed and uber-activity instead of trying to pretend Powell is anything other than a decent four out there. For instance, we saw the Warriors play Corey Maggette at center tonight, and they were quite successful with their five guard line-up. There’s no reason we couldn’t accomplish something similar, especially since we have a good array of guards to choose from. It might even help our perimeter defense since we’d be able to switch everything on the outside and possibly even, you know, contest a shot or two.
Here ends my tactical analysis. I must now go fold clothes and unwind from a day that tired me out for absolutely no reason. We went to our home inspection today and just stood around for two hours, but when we left we were all beat. It’s kinda like traveling long distances – why do you sit on your ass for six hours and then get up and feel exhausted? Whatever the case, I could use a good beauty rest. Seven-game road trip starts Saturday at Chicago. Let’s line ’em up and knock ’em down like the last time we had an extended road run.