Lakers fans, don’t let those wins last month against the Knicks and Philadelphia make you think that the team has turned any kind of corner. The “Old and Slow” Lakers (as described by Kobe in a recent interview) are what they are.
First of all, the Knicks are a fraud – they are not a top echelon team, have lost five of their last eight, and will sink in the NBA Atlantic. Their 40-year-old anchors, Kurt Thomas and especially Jason Kidd, will be severe liabilities for them from here on out. Kidd was a leader of their early season success, but his age and declining skills will be more than obvious from here on out. Thomas will see his playing time come to a halt, not just because he is no longer an NBA-caliber player, but due to the return of Amar’e Stoudemire. How he will play along side Carmelo Anthony will be the one interesting element of the remainder of the Knicks’ season. The other “experiment”, making Raymond Felton a shooting guard, will also die on the vine, but he will be seeing much more time as the point guard as Kidd’s minutes are reduced, unless, of course, Baron Davis makes a re-appearance in NYC. If not, and if Felton does move over, will J.R. Smith become a starter, with the team losing the impetus and fire he gives them off the bench? There’s always James White and his 3.0 lifetime average.
As to the 76ers, remember when we wrote about how the Lakers were able to beat them when they were without Andrew Bynum and Jrue Holiday? Well, Holiday was back when they met again a couple of days ago, and with Jrue going 26-2-10, Philly outlasted the “Old and Slow” Lakers at the end, just like more and more teams will be doing.
As to that, the “Old and Slow” Lakers cannot match up with the young and vibrant Clippers. After the two-game slip-and-slide following their 17-game win streak, the Clippers will be ready to run the Lakers off the Staples’ court. Caron Butler is back after missing the last game and expect the team as a whole, and Blake Griffin individually, to bounce back after horrible shooting the past two games (Clippers – 37%, Griffin -27%).
This prophecy is more about the Lakers, though, than the Clippers. Little shades of success cannot make up for the following:
- Dwight Howard doesn’t care – he’s in LA for a good time, doesn’t fit in on Kobe’s team, and will continue going through the motions the rest of the season, and take his over-rated personage elsewhere next season.
- Mike D’Antoni cannot mold this old team into his image – the talent and youth and speed and motivation are not there. He was the wrong coach for this group, and that is proven by the fact that he will not adapt his system to the players on the roster. Also, as a guy who cares only for offense and little for defense, it took a real genius to hire him to coach a team that plays no defense.
- That leads to the next point – the team plays no defense, and it has been shown over and over again in sport after sport, defense wins titles. This team will go nowhere unless this mind set and roster are significantly adjusted.
- The Lakers, as we have said, possess the worst bench in the NBA. The extremely deep Clippers could beat the Lakers with their second unit. The Lakers do not have a second unit.
While the rest of the season will see the Clippers fighting with Oklahoma City and San Antonio for the West’s top spot, the Lakers will be fighting for the eight and final playoff spot. The current roster will not make it.