Laker fans, raise your glasses in a toast! The divine and incomparable Lakers just notched their first W of the season against….the Detroit Pistons. Ok, granted it’s premature to celebrate and proclaim that the Lakers are good to go and everything in Lakerland is gravy. However, despite the huge discrepancy in talent between the two teams there were certainly some good points to take away from this initial victory.
The Lakers were absolutely dominant in their performance against the Pistons, who appeared to throw the towel relatively early which was highlighted by a simultaneously pitiful and laughable scenario where Coach Lawrence Frank replaced all 5 players at one time in a move that is rarely seen in the NBA. Hell, I guess that’s still better than the situation that confronted former Coach John Kuester who had 6 players to juggle in a match against the Sixers when the rest of his roster completely quit on him.
However, there was some bad news among the celebrations as the confetti fell on the Staples Center faithful. Steve Nash had sustained a broken bone in his foot in the previous game against the Clippers, and was reportedly out for nearly a month. Update- Fortunately for the Canadian, medical staff recently reported that he would only be out for a week or so, much to the delight of the Laker fans holding their breath.
Jordan Hill has to be a fan favorite, as his hustle and determination to box out his opposition continues to impress me. Trading the beloved Fisher and a first round pick for Hill proved to be yet another solid move to bolster our severely lacking bench. Dwight Howard also impressed me with his footwork and bounce, despite still recovering from back surgery. Kobe’s ankle issues don’t seem to be a concern, as the Mamba is now 40/67 for an amazing .60 FG%. He is currently the league’s 2nd leading scorer with the sizzling hot James Harden killing it in Houston. I’m very curious to see how his numbers balance out over the course of the season, but I could easily see him averaging roughly 24 PPG considering he is THE go-to guy on the Rockets. What an insane talent, everyone knew he was an incredible talent but so far he has left even the staunchest opponents with their jaws dropped.
Another ray of light was Darius Morris, the sophomore point guard out of Michigan. Now that Nash is injured and Steve “I hate that fan” Blake is starting, this would seem an opportune time for D-Mo to prove his worth. So far, it looks like the kid has made some progress, sporting a decent jumper and court awareness, particularly on one play as he caught a long pass and quickly threw a flawless lob to Howard for the dunk. I also liked how Metta posted up more; he is so strong that all it takes is a simple spin move to get into the post. From there, he could go for the finish or dish it off to one of the bigs.
Gasol started off strong, but finished with rather pedestrian stats considering his incredible aptitude for the game. Initially, he was playing the post effectively until the attention was shifted to feeding the ball down low to Howard. How the two will mesh remains to be seen, but I see no reason as to why they can’t co-exist. Some people are forgetting just how effective a post player Gasol is, which is a shame.
Mike Brown continues to befuddle many fans with his rotations. Although he gave the starters much fewer minutes this time around, it’s most likely due to the fact that at one point the Lakers led by nearly 40 points. How he balances rest for his starters and playing time for the bench is going to be something to watch out for. The fact that Jodie Meeks only played as much as Chris Duhon is particularly perplexing, as the sharpshooter earned a meager 4 minutes in a blowout win.
I understand that Brown was trying to implement a formation with an emphasis on defense, but Meeks is arguably our best 3 point threat and to have him rotting away on the bench is not something I enjoy seeing. On a brighter note, it was good to see that there were less turnovers in the game. I’d like to see them improve even more in this regards, but it’s definitely encouraging to see. The defense looked more effective as well, but there is still work to be done.
In any case, this win is definitely a step in the right direction. Although I hate to downplay the victory due to the quality of the opposing team, this should definitely temper any overreactions from our first win. That being said, it was great to see a glimpse of this team’s true potential. An appropriate albeit contrite saying goes, “Focus on the journey, not the destination.” As opposed to some who may just wait till playoff time, I’ll be enjoying every moment of the ride whether the results are positive or negative. Ride or Die, Laker fans.