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Ah, at long last the Lakers Mavs matchup has finally kicked off. I am so stoked to see how the Lake Show and Showtime 2.0 will entertain the sold out Staples Center. I am also wondering how much ticket prices have been notched up with the huge acquisitions of Steve Nash and Dwight Howard.

The match started on a good note when it was revealed that Kobe Bryant would play the game despite an injured foot. As Steve Smith so eloquently put it, “The only way to stop Kobe Bryant from playing a game is to cut his legs off. And even then, he will just put roller blades on and step on the court regardless.” He also mentioned that Dwight’s biggest enemy in the opener would be overzealousness that could lead to foul trouble.  A well put analysis by the former Hawks sharpshooter.

Once the action started, a roar could be heard as Dwight Howard got his first touch but eventually flubbed the dunk. Just early jitters I suppose, and that’s understandable seeing how much Dwight loves LA and how he so desperately wants to please the fans and the organization. No matter, as the ball bounced out to Peace, who kicked it over to the top where the Canadian calmly drained a three pointer.

Pau was clearly looking to find Dwight and keep the big man happy. As Shaq put it, if the dog doesn’t get fed the house won’t be guarded. Gasol was all too happy to toss up some Scooby snacks to Howard, who would help drastically in buffing up the post area. Things looked good early on, with the team constantly keeping Dwight in their crosshairs.

The Princeton offense didn’t look bad at all from the start. This is a strategy that relies on constant motion as well as solid passers. Fortunately for this Laker squad, everybody on the starting unit excels at passing, with Dwight even making a case as he immediately dropped off an assist to a streaking Kobe Bryant for an easy layup.

As the 2nd unit came into play, several questions immediately popped into my head. Lo and behold, the moment Blake comes in the ball is turned over for a Collison layup courtesy of a poor passing angle from Jodie Meeks. Meeks quickly redeemed himself with a three pointer, while Antawn Jamison drove in and picked up a quick assist to Jordan Hill for the flush.

Reggie Miller was talking about how the pg position is absolutely vital for the success of the 2nd unit, which is currently being manned by the underwhelming Steve Blake. I had high hopes for him when he initially joined the Lakers, but since the contract was signed he has been a constant disappointment.

It’s too bad we couldn’t keep Ramon Sessions on board as he would be a solid backup, I am still a bit baffled by his decision to take off as the Bobcats offer that he accepted was not even a million more than what the Lakers would have paid him in the final year of his contract. Not to mention being mentored by one of the greatest point guards of all time and a chance for an NBA championship, but who am I to judge?

On a side note, what’s up with taking the Center out of the All Star ballot? I suppose it can add more excitement with slashers and swingmen capable of pulling off incredible moves and an array of dunks, but this just shows how much the NBA has changed from days past. Before, there were a plethora of exceptional centers such as Hakeem Olajuwon, David Robinson, Shaq, and Patrick Ewing among others. Today, we have Dwight Howard at the top followed by Andrew Bynum. I wonder how Dwight and Bynum would have fared against the much stiffer competition that existed back in the 90’s era?

The defense was quite disappointing as well, with consecutive buckets being scored in the paint with ease despite the newest installment of the Twin Towers 2.0. Same goes for Peace, who was extremely ineffective as well. I hate how he has become more reliant on chucking up three’s even though he’s not exactly proficient at that skill.

My biggest pet peeve though, is these ridiculous fans who give up on being fans at the first sign of trouble. Those bandwagoners and delusional Laker fans who thought we would finish with over 70 wins are smoking some good stuff. C’mon people, there’s going to be bumps in the road. This team was just assembled and they’re going to need more time to gel and hash out the intangibles, regardless of how incredible their individual skills may be. That’s what separates the true fans from the spurious ones, the patience to wait it out and see how things unfold without prematurely pushing the panic button.  Come March and April, if the Lake Show goes on a 0-9 streak, then I would be legitimately concerned. But keep in mind, for all the hype and hoopla surrounding the Miami heat after forming their so called “Superfriends”, they hit bumps along the way to an eventual championship.

I’m really becoming a big Jordan Hill fan. It’s hard to believe we got him for package including Derek Fisher. Since his breakout performance against the Nuggets in the 2011 playoffs, this guy was a double-double machine. I really respect his passion and hard work in the post to grab loose balls and corral rebounds for second attempts.

As the clock wound down to signal the end of the game and a disappointing opener, I think all fans will agree that the offense looked quite stagnant. The defensive end needs to be shored up as well, as Dwight was caught out of position and didn’t quite provide the defensive support that a perennial DPOY candidate should display. All in all, there’s no need to panic although I’m sure tons of Laker fans were completely disgusted and calling for Armageddon. Calm down people, it’s just one game this new offense is going to take some time to click properly. Let’s take it one game at a time.

-Daniel Kang

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