Looking at the final scoreboards the LA Lakers have not done so well the past week – losing two showcase games to LA’s “JV team,” the Clippers, and to the Chicago Bulls. Most people expected the Lakers to lose Christmas day in their season opener with the Bulls; some even predicted a blow out. However the purple and gold played an exciting game of back and forth basketball – a game of tit for tat. It was the small things that
beat the Lakers – free throws and turnovers; Derrick Rose’s floater over Pau Gasol clinched it. So that seems like a promising start, especially since the Lakers were without Andrew Bynum. However – some coaching decisions in the end raise some flags.
Brown started Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Derek Fisher, Devin Ebanks and Josh McRoberts (Matt Barnes is currently injured and Andrew Bynum is suspended). Being without two starters meant that LA’s bench needed to step up – and they did. Players that would rarely see court time played a lot – and they played well. Josh McRoberts, Devin Ebanks, Steve Blake, Troy Murphy and Andrew Goudelock all had memorable moments in the game. Blake played impressively and showed promise of the ability to relieve the aging Fisher. McRoberts, Ebanks and Murphy all had solid games across the board and Goudelock crushed a few perimeter shots that taught a few people to remember this rookie’s name.
But when it came down to the last 20 seconds, Brown made a few changes. The LA squad was represented by Bryant, Fisher, Gasol, Metta World Peace, and Blake the last few seconds. Why in crunch time did Brown change the lineup? All of them except Blake represent the ‘10-‘11 squad’s go-to men – and they failed. Sure the younger players are
less experienced but Brown sent out some true Veterans – everyone noticed too. Announcers endlessly referred to Fisher as the President of the Players Union and all the hard work he underwent during the lockout. They ruthlessly pointed out Kobe’s wrist – Kobe rubbed it, we saw a replay, Kobe got knocked around, we heard a recap. Anyone who watched the game saw both Kobe and Gasol start to slip up the last two minutes – so, why did Brown put Fisher and MWP in to join them? Why didn’t Brown go with his more consistent players throughout the game? Because Brown wanted to give his best player the chance to win the game. However I am going to go out on a limb here because I feel like I can. I have been a fan of the Lakers ever since I was about 9 years old and realized the NBA existed – just so happened my home team was winning then – I am a fan of the purple and gold for life. I feel justified saying it might be time for out with the old and in with the new.
But for that to happen, new head coach, Mike Brown, needs to agree. LA needs to see a few things. First, Andrew Bynum needs to be consistent and healthy, as does Matt Barnes – those two could really do something. Fisher needs to be phased out – Brown needs to continue cultivating the skills of his bench, all the “benchwarmers” who saw minutes on the court today need to continue receiving opportunities. Kobe clearly is not invincible – he’s fostering a wrist with a tear in an essential ligament, plus he is getting older. Kobe has seen his better days and that needs to be recognized – no one is saying he is not excellent, because he is. But he is not rocking our worlds like he used too. MWP is clearly on a fast decline, and Gasol unfortunately might be starting to tumble down too.
Brown should be embracing the new additions to the roster. A new coach should shake things up, try new things. He is due at least some credit, he did try a few new things, however, when it came to crunch time? Brown sent out the same squad that fell flat last year, the men that fizzled right before our eyes. Brown should have a little more faith in his young bench – yes they have some obvious lacks in their game, but they have more pop to finish a game.
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