Game 6 Editorial
Posted by hiphopmama on May 14, 2009
LA Lakers 80, Houston 95
Series tied 3-3
I’ve just about given up on this Lakers team. I completely concur with the Forum Blue & Gold post about the Lakers’ lack of mental toughness and inability to learn from experience. They got it exactly right. There is no telling which Lakers team is going to show up on any given night. The best you can do is assume they will alternate good and bad performances, with some allowances for an occasional good or bad streak. They have zero killer instinct, and I’m gonna go out there and invoke Softgate again now. Let me tell you why.
Pau has gone all wet noodle on us. Remember that toughness he showed in the Christmas Day win over the Celtics? Remember how gritty he looked late in the fourth quarter, coming up with key defensive players and refusing to back down to the Boston attempts to punk him? Yeah, that’s all gone. Now, instead of fighting back, he hangs his head, flails his arms, and shrugs his shoulders. Instead of banging with the best of them, he looks timid on the boards. Instead of seeking out the contact, he struggles against 6-6 Chuck Hayes and can’t figure out how to adjust his game to take advantage of his half-foot size advantage. When even the intellectual side of his game has gone, it’s time to pack it up.
It may be an unfair burden to put on one player, but it really all comes down to Pau. Kobe is the team’s clear leader and most important player, but Pau is sort of the compass of the other guys. And the ability of other teams to hang off everyone in their defense of Kobe is in large part a result of Pau’s effectiveness, or lack thereof. When he fails to deliver, it makes Kobe’s and everyone else’s jobs that much harder, and it weakens us incredibly. It has been a non-issue for much of the season, but I’m going to hazard a guess that all those excessive minutes he played when Bynum was out are catching up with him and hurting his play. When you’re tired and everything else has left you, you fall back on what you know. And toughness has never been Pau’s strong suit. You could argue that this Rockets team is just be a tough match-up for him, but I don’t quite buy that either, because he has faced a variety of different players, most of them no more than seventh- or eighth-man caliber, and he has been unable to take advantage of any of them.
Not that the team as a whole has been much better, but the lack of a legitimate one-two punch has severely hampered our efforts in the playoffs. If I wanted to see Kobe play with a bunch of amateurs, I would bring back Kwame Brown and Smush Parker. They’re shelling out millions for these guys, so it would be nice to see someone other than #24 play with a bit of passion.
That’s it, I’m done. Off to watch some Brasileirão action I have recorded. It will be nice to see some players actually trying for a change.