The Los Angeles Lakers have finally put us NBA fans out of our misery. This misery was borne from wondering when the Lakers would kick “into gear” this season. Well, the results are in and the answer is “they’re not going to”. With a fourth quarter fade out that was uglier than Matt Barnes’ hairdo, the Lakers are now down 0-3 and face elimination on Monday Melbourne time. This game presented a lot of questions about both teams involved and has left a lot of the NBA-following world in a state of shock. So, without further adieu, here are the questions I’m asking…
What the hell is going on with Pau Gasol?
Number 16 looks more like Shawn Bradley right now than one of the best big men in the game. His decline in confidence is as evident as it is disappointing. I previously wrote that only an off-court issue would make sense for this drop in concentration/form and I maintain that statement. Pau is spending more time and energy complaining or cursing his own terrible play than committing to the next contest. If he was a race horse he would have been put down by now. Expect something from him in Game 4 because there will be no pressure. The Lakers at this stage have a “best possible result” of a 2-4 loss in my opinion.
How much has Dirk stepped up his play this series?
As a self-admitted “Dirk sledger” I am forced to eat humble pie in this series as Dirk Nowitzki continues to lay the smackdown on LA. Every time his awkward frame touches the ball I am now convinced that he will either get a clean shot away or get fouled. I would love to see the stats but I reckon one of those two outcomes is sitting at a strike rate of approx 85% right now. Hats off to the big German, an incredible performance to date even if most of his shots are uncontested.
Why didn’t Kobe try to take over late in Game 3?
This one has me the most confused although when Kobe does shoot too much, everyone in the media is quick to torch him. In Game 3 it seemed to me that Bryant was determined to make his teammates win the game, providing only steadying points as opposed to a barrage. Kobe’s reluctance to take over is just another sign that he doesn’t have what he once did in the way of athleticism. Sure, he can still pull out a poster dunk or fade-away jumper when he needs to but the well is drying up, and he knows it. So like all great athletes do in their declining years, he defers to his team of “champions” and unfortunately for Kobe not enough of them responded. If I’m Kobe and I want to keep my legacy ticking along, I come out with the biggest “f**k you” game of the year on Monday. Pencil #24 in for 40 points and a few choice looks for his teammates. You know, the Kobe we all love to hate/love.
Has 2002 Peja Stojakovic been cloned?
I felt like breaking out the Playstation 2 and playing a bit of NBA Live 2002 after Game 3. Peja was piling up the FGA box score column as if totally unaware of his current age/relevance. Even if this series was a Broadway show, not one scriptwriter would pen Peja in this role. 99/100 of them would have him providing comic relief with Brian Cardinal on the bench. Either way, welcome back to the spotlight Mr Stojakovic.
What’s wrong with putting a hand up on defense?
The Mavericks shot well, there’s no doubting that but why do the Lakers (read this as “Pau Gasol”) feel that they do not need to challenge shots? Without going back through the game to count, I would guess about 15 of Dallas’ jump shots came with no contest whatsoever. Kobe claimed in the post-game press conference that the Lakers challenged shots but I would disagree. Take nothing away from the Mavericks but the game must be easier with little to no defense being played on them.
Overall the Lakers have gone from looking like a team waiting on Kobe too much to a team that looks disinterested. Now they simply look beaten and barring an absolute miracle, they will have the whole summer to consider their options, as will the Lakers front office.