Amidst the two disheartening losses to a surging Memphis team and a Sacramento King sporting a 4-9 record was a bright ray of hope. The resurgence of what appeared to be a battle weary Antawn Jamison, not to mention Jodie Meeks finally finding the mark. Jamison has posted 16/7 and 19/5, shooting a very efficient 14/22 and hitting 3 3’s over that span. Ditto for Meeks, who has emerged from a similar shooting slump to hit 8 3’s in the last three games.
Why the hell are Jordan Hill’s minutes being limited? In the last two games, he’s only seen 14 minutes of play. I have seen quite a few people clamoring for Hill to be inserted into the starting lineup so that Gasol’s lethargic states could be revitalized as the go to scorer for the often struggling second unit. I am completely on board with this idea. Gasol has been playing like he’s on vacation, with even Kobe calling him out for “coasting” and just going through the motions. If you watch his defense it is quite obvious that the effort is just not there. He doesn’t rotate or help out, and the opposition drives in with complete irreverence when Gasol is defending the rim.
What I’m not so thrilled with is the fact that one of our most energetic and passionate players is sitting on the pine. It is well documented that D’Antoni previously had major beef with Hill, saying that he didn’t play “bad players.” I certainly hope the new coach isn’t so immature as to hold that against him, since Hill has clearly evolved to a different type of player compared to his debut year. The more Jamison shines and continues to hit the outside shot, the more limited Hill’s growth will be. That’s unfortunate, because I think he has a very bright future ahead of him. It’s still hard to believe we got him for Fisher and a pick.
Another player who was similarly left in the cold got a total of 11 touches in 80 minutes of player. The problem is, this guy is in another stratosphere in terms of sheer talent. Dwight Howard watched as his teammates took shots without feeding the post. He hauled down 13 rebounds in those two games, which shows that he’s still not quite there in terms of conditioning. “The biggest thing for me is affect the game in other ways and not just really focus on the touches. I think when I try to focus too much on how many touches I need, I don’t play the way I need to play. So I know what I have to do, what I need to do for us to win.” That was Dwight’s response to the fact that his touches have decreased.
How I wish Gasol would do the same as opposed to whimpering that he’s not getting enough outside jumpers to toss up. The Spaniard is starting to piss me off more and more everyday. I would still keep him over Amare Stoudemire as the latest rumors have been linking the two. He recently talked about how he was dealing with tendonitis, and while I can understand if he’s being held back by an injury it seems like he just isn’t motivated at all. I’m sure playing for Spain over the offseason certainly didn’t help the 32 year old fully recuperate. If only we could have somehow got Josh Smith for Gasol I would be so stoked. Not to mention all the shots that would get thrown into the crowds between the freakishly athletic duo.
It sickened me to watch Kobe doing his hero thing towards the end of the Memphis team where a few buckets would have got the Lakers back in the hunt. Instead, Kobe completely ignored his teammates white chucking up fadeaway and three point shots. I found myself wishing that D’Antoni would yank him out of the game as he used Dwight as a screen to go off with his ball hogging ways. You would think that he knows better than that, he can’t singlehandedly win us games. I was glad to see that in the following game against the Mavs, he racked up a few assists while completely neglecting his offense to set up his teammates for good looks. It’s good to see him taking responsibility for his actions, something a young #8 Bryant would not have done.
I also want to give credit to Metta World Peace, who clearly worked hard during the offseason to get in shape. His superior conditioning has allowed him to have more post up opportunities, and his three point shot has improved by leaps and bounds. Peace is now shooting nearly .400 from downtown, with an improved .436 FG% as well. Let’s hope he keeps up his peaceful ways and stellar play, as this will be a huge catalyst for this team that has yet to hit a proper stride.