Lakers finally above .500, in playoff position
Published: Wednesday, March 13, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, March 13, 2013 22:03
This week’s NBA headlines are so obvious that it is almost impossible to have not heard about them. Yesterday’s Eastern Conference article covered the Heat’s unfathomable win streak of 19 games, while my Western Conference column will cover the Lakers, and their newly acquired playoff position.
This season the Lakers have faced non-stop scrutiny from the public, writers, and even their own fan base. Kobe and Dwight have argued so much that they even had to tweet a picture of them, “play fighting”, to convince the public and perhaps themselves that everything was alright in the locker-room. However, since the All-Star break, the Kobe Bryant promise, and the death of the Lakers’ long time owner, Jerry Buss, the team has spun 180 degrees and has been reborn.
The Lakers are 9-2 since the All-Star game and have finally got their record above .500. Their record is an improved, 34-31. They are currently holding down the eighth playoff spot and are riding a four game win streak into their next game in Atlanta. Many Laker fans believe they are championship bound again, but you know what they say, “Don’t run before you can walk.”
During their turnaround they heated up the month of frigid February. They began to win games and more importantly close, down to the wire games. A lot of their wins however came from sub-par opponents or playoff bottom feeders. They defeated, Detroit, Charlotte, Phoenix, Dallas, and the pathetic Timberwolves twice. Obviously, these wins are an improvement because the Lakers could not beat anyone, and I mean anyone, earlier in the year. However, we are overlooking the fact that during this “Great Laker stretch”, they only beat the teams they should have beaten, and lost to all their competitive opponents. They came up short to every decent playoff team, including the Heat, Clippers, Nuggets, and Thunder. They did have an impressive road victory over the Rose-less Bulls, but you can’t jump up and down about beating a team that was missing their best player, who happened to be a former MVP.
The Lakers are still playing similar to the way they played earlier in the year, except now everyone knows their roles. The offense currently runs through Kobe Bryant with the option for an isolation, kick out, or the new and improved Howard pick and roll. Howard has been tremendous in the last four games in his effort on the offensive glass along with rolling to the cup after the pick. Howard finally had the inevitable revelation that when you play with the Mamba, you are not going to get the number of touches you want. However, Superman did find out that Kobe has continued to look for him on the pick and roll as well as in the post early in the games. In this way Howard will give more effort, and stay involved on the defensive end. The other centerpiece besides Howard, that has adapted to change is Steve Nash. Nash has developed into a jump shooter that spreads the floor, leading the league in 3-point percentage. His role is essential because it allows Howard not to be doubled in the paint. When Howard is not doubled in the paint he can go off for