I’ll just be point blank, I’m concerned about our team. It’s the beginning of the season and only seven games have been played, yeah, I know. But 4-3 isn’t a very strong record. Players have improved and are playing at a much higher level compared to last season, but our play is eerily similar to last season and it worries me a great deal. It wasn’t until the second quarter that I realized it, then watched the team almost blow it in the second half even without McGrady. It’s good to win, but you still have to make adjustments where they’re needed.
Lamar Odom- Lamar wasn’t as aggressive as I would’ve liked to have seen him. Since Phil decided to move Kobe back to the wing in the scoring position, then I think Lamar would be more effective as the facilitator. If Lamar isn’t being posted up, then obviously he’s out on the perimeter and not involved in the offense. Phil complimented Lamar’s post skills, so he should utilize them. Final stat line: 10 points, 7 rebounds, and 4 turnovers.
Ronny Turiaf- Not really a big impact by Ronny in this game. He didn’t do any of the dirty work that I’ve almost come to expect out of him consistently. He wasn’t a presence on defense and didn’t hustle like he usually does. But of course, he’ll bounce back. Final stat line: 9 points and 6 rebounds.
Kwame Brown- Kwame impressed me with his defense on Yao in the second half, particularly in the 4th quarter. He did a pretty good job of keeping him out of the lane and forcing him to take tough contested shots. Yao has lit us up in past games, even against Kwame, but he needed 20 free throws and 18 filed goal attempts to get those 26 because of Kwame. I was a little upset, however, that Yao was beating Kwame to the rim and drawing fouls. It got to the point where we had to help so much, that other players like Lamar would have to drop down and foul to prevent Yao from scoring. When that happens, not only do players get into foul trouble, but it gives us so many cracks in our defense and open shots for the guards. Kwame played decent enough defense on him in the second half, but that’s the only credit he’ll be getting from me. Final stat line: 2 points and 5 rebounds.
Mamba- Kobe carried us in this game. He didn’t shoot the ball well in the first quarter because Houston’s defense made it somewhat difficult for him, but he had no problems from that point on. This was probably the most aggressive he’s been since the last time we faced Houston on Opening Night, only this time those same shots were going on. This was like the playoff Kobe in the old championship days, where he’d be the X factor and get the rest of the team jumping. I was supremely impressed with both his focus and leadership in this one, he came through every time we needed for something to happen. Terrific ballgame for Mamba. Final stat line: 30 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists.
Derek Fisher- I’m starting to worry about Fish as well, he just doesn’t seem to be playing smart for certain stretches in the game. He’ll throw forced passes and questionable defense. I was surprised at the turnover he had in the last 2 minutes when Houston was still very much alive. He’s a vet, but you wonder how much longer until fans start gripping about his mistakes. He needs to play under more control. Final stat line: 13 points, 4-7 from the field.
The Bench wasn’t as strong as it has been early in the season. No one came off the bench and made an impact, so there’s basically nothing for me to analyze and breakdown. I’ll give them a pass in this one since they’ve played well so far.
I wasn’t satisfied with the way the team played by any stretch of the imagination. They’ve looked relatively weak since we beat Utah. The Hornets game was an embarrassment, it took more than half the game for the players to decide whether or not they wanted to compete against Minnesota, then there was just a meltdown in San Antonio. They can’t seem to build on any momentum they create for themselves after a win, which is another thing that worries me. Every win, it seems, is followed with a disappointing loss. I’m wondering if Phil realizes this instead of just blowing the losses off like he seemed to do against San Antonio. It’s still early in the season, but any kind of 4-6 game win streak would do us some good. Because right now, I’m worried.
Next Game: LAL vs DET
If your mind isn’t clouded by unnecessary things, this is the best season of your life.