Home > Uncategorized > Lakers to Play OKC @ OKC Next: Uh-Oh…

Lakers to Play OKC @ OKC Next: Uh-Oh…

Some days The Los Angeles Lakers look like they have some promise, some talent still available on this team to do some incredible things, to perform somewhat Kobe-like, snatching victory from defeat; but mostly, that’s due to exceptional scoring, and not defense. If you examine the game yesterday, yes, that miracle win at home vs. The Oklahoma City Thunder, and you compare it to other efforts this year vs. that very same team it is not that hard to accept (or believe): The Lakers were blown out by OKC @ OKC on 12/13/13 by a 122-97 score, but the first matchup between them @ Staples Center was only a 107-103 loss. Not bad! Matchup Stats. Then again, I thought they were being gracious, showing some respect to Kobe Bryant, and toward the Lakers organization, even “we the fans” – as many teams with some (un)common decency, some class appear to be able to do (unlike The Los Angeles Clippers!). My thoughts, unfortunately, move to this conclusion: It’s not so surprising that The Lakers won, because it seems more likely that the results of all games played against them this season tell the story of OKC just being a poor team “on the road.”

Some days I shake my head wondering: What is the NBA doing with such a wicked schedule? I mean, really, if you have to play in Denver, at high altitude, in a back-to-back game, why wouldn’t it be more fair to schedule that game first, instead of after a late night contest as the second game? Take for instance this back-to-back “mini-series” between LAL & OKC: 1st game Sunday, in Los Angeles followed by the next game in Oklahoma City on Thursday? Say what! Really? No back-to-back game Wed/Thu, no every-other-day format, with a game on Tuesday? I don’t get it. Advantage Thursday: Thunder.

What I would love to see is an ability for Jodie Meeks to be a consistent shooter, and be Mamba-like, overcoming whatever The Thunder may be practicing, after reviewing film, for days, about how to defend him much, much better. What The Lakers have not been is anything resembling consistency. It seems as if the year-long auditions of players allows the head coach to stumble bumble along with so many tweaks to the starting lineup that nobody ever knows who should be the featured player from night to night. I’m not even sure his pet scheme, “The Seven Second Offense,” even suggests players show any consideration for who has the hot hand! Then again, Kendall Marshall somehow had a +11 rating while scoring zero points on Sunday! He must have played stellar defense on Westbrook, or something. No? I seem to remember a monster slam, breakaway layups; but, the box score indicates he only shot 9-23. Hmm…

If OKC is a “powerhouse” team in the Western Conference, then they should be able to make changes to their schemes on offense & defense and blowout The Lakers, at home, just like The Clippers did recently. They should be able to at least match their effort of December 13th, and put up a similar score of 122-97 – unless they are not who we all think they are. Maybe Russell Westbrook is always playing at 110% and couldn’t ratchet up his production on a night when Kevin Durant was in minor foul trouble and shooting poorly. How did The Lakers beat OKC with Kevin Durant tallying a triple-double? Are triple-doubles overrated? Maybe Kevin Durant really is a great, humble player, capable of being the NBA MVP some year, while LeBron James is still playing, and changing the pace & production in a game to fake out the opponent only faked out his own teammates yesterday. I suspect Kevin Durant & Russell Westbrook will straighten out their shooting woes, no matter what The Lakers try to do defensively similar to whatever it was that worked for them 24 hours ago. I want to believe they can, and will, play a style of game where defense gives them another opportunity to beat a good team that won’t be taking them lightly.

The Lakers of yesteryear were compiled with so much talent that they always had a chance to win, every night – unless the unexpected reared its ugly head, and that happened very seldomly. This year, wins are the exception to the rule. How do you explain beating Portland @ Portland but losing to The Clippers so badly? Or, worse, losing so badly to a non-playoff team, like The Nuggets? If it hadn’t been for the back-to-back travel, to a high altitude arena, after such a horrific loss (142-94?), I don’t know that they don’t win vs. Denver (134-126), if they had played a shread of defense, or even contesting just a few more shots, instead of leaving guys wide open to pack the paint in hopes of preventing offensive rebound. Why play from a position of fear? Naismith created a game, if played properly, by the rules, with proper fundamentals, discipline, spacing, role responsibility, that was a winnable game!

Can The Lakers win Thursday in OKC? I can only answer that like this: Will Mike D’Antoni allow Jodie Meeks to be fed the ball, instead of making sure our Point Guard’s distribute the ball fairly to everybody? I really don’t want to see Pau Gasol play a strong 1st Half, then play gingerly in the 2nd Half, choosing to remain aloof from physical contact, avoiding the paint, shooting dumb shots from outside, when we have enough outside shooters on our team already! I like Ryan Kelly better at Power Forward than Wesley Johnson, but a frontline of Gasol-Kelly-Johnson seems to work pretty well with Meeks-Marshall/Farmar. But how do we work a rotation of players beyond these guys if Jordan Hill is unavailable and the coach won’t play Chris Kaman? Somehow we have to get Xavier Henry & Kent Bazemore in the game (for Johnson & Meeks?), but that’s the team we got. That’s it, unless MarShon Brooks is also pressed into action.

Jodie Meeks was 6-11 from 3-point range, but more significantly, he hit 14-14 at the free throw line! If he can do that, draw fouls, and make the free shots, at that rate, much like Kobe Bryant generally is capable of doing, then perhaps we do have a chance to win this Thursday. I hope so. But the cold, hard truth, the reality of this season suggests that’s a very tall order. What’s your expectation? Is Kobe coming back? Or, is Jodie Meeks the next Kobe Bryant for The Lakers? Is he a part of this franchise’s future?

Go, Lakers!

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