Thursday, November 4, 2010

Lakers show Kings how far they have to go

The Los Angeles Lakers strolled into Arco Arena Wednesday night delivered all that is real.

Clearly, it was too real for the young Sacramento Kings.

It wasn’t just the 12-point victory margin. It was the team-wide defensive intensity combined with a self-knowledge, championship confidence and swagger combined with a discipline of execution that overwhelmed the Kings’ youthful intentions and desires.

The Lakers are what every team wants to be and where every team is attempting to get.

They’ve already won back-to-back titles and nothing was apparent last night to reveal they now aren’t on a similar course.

Could they become better this season than last? Only a season’s evolution and development can lead to that determination.

Yet, as the new-and-still improving almost 31-year-old (Nov. 6) Lamar Odom said, “Better? I hope so. That’s our goal. It’s always realistic, when you strive. Being perfect is like a realistic goal for us. That’s our way of thinking, our thought process.”

Can you get to that? Other teams are attempting to get into the playoffs, perhaps get a high playoff-seed, even. Meanwhile, the Lakers have begun the season 5-0 and have yet to put 23-year-old 7-foot talent Andrew Bynum on the court.

The Lakers seek perfection. Odom sounded like Denzel Washington in “Remember the Titans”, but the sincerity in his delivery and eyes, showed the versatile swingman was deadly serious.

Just as Kobe Bryant always is serious when he steps onto the floor, the Lakers carry themselves with an air of invincibility. That quotient never should be underestimated.

In some ways, Bryant’s presence and dominance manifest themselves in each of the Lakers. That goes the same for legendary coach Phil Jackson.

They don’t get shaken and there never is a situation in which they feel a loss of control.

Listen to how Odom and Derek Fisher speak of Bryant, who had off-season surgery on his right knee for the third time.

Said Odom, “Kobe is coming off surgery. He’s going to will the basketball game to kind of go his way. So, this is nothing different than what I’ve seen since I’ve been playing with him.”

Fisher and Bryant joined the Lakers together in 1996.

“I thought he might start off struggling to find some rhythm,” Fisher said of Bryant, “and he might build some rhythm as things went. But to see him playing this well, this early, he’s on my team, so that’s good for me. But that’s not good for everybody else when he’s playing this good this early.

“It’s not surprising. Nothing that he does surprises me. I’ve just seen too much, too many times. He’s capable of doing pretty much anything and everything.”

That’s the sound of reverence, of ultimate respect and confidence. The Lakers are a finished product that somehow still has an upside.

Meanwhile, the Kings are attempting to find their way with games such as the Lakers contest serving as monitoring levels. Sacramento’s leader on the floor is 21-year-old second-year guard Tyreke Evans.

Evans couldn’t stay on the floor against the Lakers and much of it was his own doing. He picked up his third foul with 1:08 left in the first half while defending Bryant’s shot attempt.

Evans’ fourth foul came with 8:42 left in the third quarter. He was caught reaching 20 feet from the basket as Bryant attempted to catch a pass. He was replaced 34 seconds later and sat the rest of the third.

It was no coincidence the Lakers quickly raced to an 82-62 lead as the Kings offense went ka-put.

Kings coach Paul Westphal didn’t mention Evans by name, but it was apparent the guard’s absence during the third quarter’s final minutes was a crucial factor.

“I thought it was an offensive breakdown in the third quarter,” the coach said. “I thought we were missing a lot of shots in the third quarter and let them get out. They’re too good of a team to let them get (into) transition and just miss, miss, miss over and over.”

Westphal knows how much the Kings (3-2) collectively have to improve to even approach the neighborhood in which the Lakers reside.

“The Lakers don’t even know who we are right now,” he said. “We would like to build a rivalry with the best team in the world, but to answer that question as if there’s a rivalry, that’d be an insult to them.

“We’ve got to win some games before there’s a rivalry. They are where we want to be.”


  1. M-
    I loved the look on the Lakers faces in the first half. It was a look of exasperation and realization that they were going to be forced to give effort. The Kings are no longer a walk over for the majority of the rest of the league. I didn't like Head jacking up 3's. 0-5. A couple too early in the shot clock. Is there a viable bench player for coach to use if this happens again or is just growing pains. Let the young fella' shoot it out. Talk to ya'

  2. Hopefully, this game will illustrate to the young players that they need to do their homework re scouting reports & video for each and every game. Otherwise I thought that they did a decent job game wise. I think even Kobe was impressed with our ability to hit the glass. Finally, their key players had to stay in the game till the end. The way the Lakers have been playing, this tells me that we are on the right path.

  3. Hey Marty,

    Hope all is well in Sac Town! Nice article!

    I had a quick question. Maybe you can answer it with an article even, if you like.

    The question is this: With all of the Performance Enhancing Drugs used in Bike racing, Baseball and Track and Field, is there a problem in the NBA? Do the players have to get tested for those substances during the season? I know they get tested for drug use, but I didn't know if there is a problem that might become uncovered at some point?

    Thanks for everything and look forward to reading your blog!

    Ric from Cherry Valley, NY

  4. What it is, Ric? Where is Cherry Valley? I'm doubting there is a PED problem in the NBA, but I'll check out if the tests taken address that situation. Until green bud shows up on the PED list, I think most hoopers are safe. LOL.
    Thanks for the hit. Peace.

  5. Lycurgus, the game showed you more than it did me... Then again, only growing nightly consistency and improvement will show me the Kings are on the correct path. Both positives and negatives at this juncture can be mirages. I do know the Kings better get their defense together with the quickness. Thanks for the hit, sir.

  6. What's up Luke? You saw all that in the Lakers faces? LOL. Playing basketball in November is an extension of the preseason that continues until about Xmas. It'd better be serious for the Kings, though. They are trying to figure what needs to be done and like Westphal said, they won't be on the radar of the NBA's best until they win some games against them. Peace and thanks for the hits.

  7. Thanks Marty!

    I would imagine that the NBA isn't rife with PEDs, because most of the time you don't want to build too much muscle so you can stay light and quick, although no one gave Donte Greene the memo, I guess....

    By the way, have you heard how Spencer Hawes is doing in Philly? Was that a good trade or what!?

    And Cherry Valley is about ten minutes for Cooperstown. So if you ever want to visit the Hall of Fame, come on out. I will buy you dinner!

  8. We sure seem to hear an awful (underscore awful) lot about the
    Hollywood Troupe on Sacto Boards. Are we aspiring to be the Lakers now?
    Pretty sad. Why don't all of you Sacto 'writers' and socalled Kings fans who admire them so much, and want to be just like them, go join up with the Latimes Laker Blog. I'm sure they will welcome you. Just tell em' I sent you.
    What? You're still here?