Special thanks to Crucifido for submitting his take to the Lakers Nation and giving us the rights to post it on the blog. Once again, if you have your own take and want to see it on TLN, feel free to e-mail it to us at Articles@theLakersNation.com.

Sure its just the pre-season but the anticipation and excitement coming into this year is palpable everywhere you go or with anyone you talk to sporting Laker gear.

After last year’s unexpected run into the Finals without a starting center, most everyone has no trouble seeing the Lakers getting out of the West and maybe getting their sweet revenge against the (now multi-generational) hated Celtics.

Alright, before anything else – get better Phil!

To the surprise of most, joining the roster tonight were Pau and Kobe. Between that and panic over prime time players defecting to Europe it proved once again that the internet is the best and worst thing that’s happened to fans of the Lakers. Words were all around that for better or worse both would be sitting out the pre-season because of their Olympic play, but lucky for us – both decided to play. So remember this – as the year goes on and everyone freaks out for no reason along the way – take what you read with a grain of salt, I’m talkin’ like a big fat SUV-sized grain.

Speaking of salt (now that’s a smooth segue), the Jazz arrived below full strength to open up the pre-season by facing the Lakers that ousted them from the playoffs last year.

So up goes the ball, and its tipped in the Lakers favor as another (pre)season begins.

Andrew sat on the bench brooding (with his dirt-stache / burgeoning goatee) as the Lakers got out and running. Call it another ploy by Phil to light a fire under someone’s butt or call it a shrewd move in slowly b ringing the big guy back into rhythm. Either way, it’s not the big deal some may make out of it.

The rust that usually comes with the pre-season was in tow as usual.

Trevor looked out of place sometimes, shots were mis-timed everywhere (aside from Fish) and Lamar looked flat, but hey it is Game 1 of the pre-season – perfection is a long way off right now.

What was easy to notice from Pau was a bit of a jump in strength in the low post. He was pushing Millsap out before the play or ball came swinging to him. That was a bonus to see happen so early on. That, and that great mid-range jumper he was draining is nothing but a good sign when Bynum gets rolling filling up the paint. That shooting’s an offensive weapon for a PF that could destroy defenses.

It’s easy to see why Phil was so high on Pau this camp. (I guess having chronic second place syndrome recently tends to give you some drive)

Thanks to Pau getting popped in the chops by Okur, Bynum strolled into the game. Not only was it just good to see him simply wearing a uniform again, it was even better seeing him knock down the little 10-foot jumper he got on his first possession of the game. The drop step he pulled off on the strong side in the 1st, the quick post position, the left handed take with the clock winding down in the 3rd and the great footwork he had in the paint on a turnaround jumper in that same quarter also did little to quell the surging fervor around the kid.

One thing this team has to remember is that confidence in Bynum can’t lead to still feet around him. Bynum was caught without an option too many times. Double/triple teams will be a common happening around Andrew and the team has to react accordingly.

Andrew’s defensive awareness has to sharpen up, but really that could be said of everyone at any time on the court tonight.

Good to see Mihm on the court also. The sweet little hook he nailed in the 2nd was encouraging to see come off. Timing will be the elephant in the room for Chris this year. Defensively you could see it rearing its head already.

Farmar looked spry tonight. His perimeter defense was better than most Lakers. Although a lot of minutes came against lower quality points, Jordan did well at keeping his man from easily getting past him for the most part.

The sleeping giant of this Laker team could very well be Powell. After the Clippers mystifyingly let him go, the Lakers were wise to snatch him up quickly. Though he doesn’t have the nutty, contagious spark of Turiaf, it looks like his game may serve the number he wears well.

One guy who looked like he hasn’t missed a step is Mbenga. Sure he doesn’t have an all-star caliber game to live up to, but the end-to-end hustle after a summer off was admirable.

With the limited time they have to impress, Heath and Giles were underwhelming at best.

Weak side defense, transition defense (most breeds of defense actually) and passing decisions were a touch fragrant this outing. Both were the direct result of poor communication / rust. The defensive problems led to a parade of dunks from any Jazz player who moved to the paint. That got annoying to see, but I expect the coaching staff will make that more apparent to the guys tomorrow.

My favorite moment of the game was when Radmanovic entered in the 1st and quickly let the first pass to him go between his hands. Coming from Vladi (plus its only pre-season) it just makes you chuckle to yourself… or maybe that’s just me.

Its tough to be too analytical at this point, but it sure was good getting the NBA back, wasn’t it?

From the media day mood and the overall personality of the team its safe to say the Lakers’ loss in the Finals (and summer of getting to stew about it) looks to have given them the unity and desire most every fan was wondering if they’d ever muster.

But aside from all of the who’s starting or who’s not banter or the glitches at such a fetal stage of the season, the pre-season is mainly about a couple things. It’s about tuning up, getting back into shape, experimenting with a mind-bending array of line-ups this team can pull off, getting Bynum back into the loop and seeing just which lucky invite (my money’s on Coby Karl at this moment) will grab that last roster spot plus the subsequent honor of wearing suits / watching the team battle their way back the Finals.

Now that we’re all getting back in gear, register these ominous words from Lamar that were uttered during LTV, “The greatness is back.”

Let’s hope it is!

  • RAZOR RAMON

    too long to read

  • domz

    first?

  • http://www.otrbasketball.com/forums/ Nissan

    Cru is the best. :)

  • http://TheVerveNerve.com Billy Kupchak

    [Comment ID #51923 Will Be Quoted Here]

    lazy latino

  • laketown

    After last year’s unexpected run into the Finals without a starting center.

    PAU MUCH?

  • http://www.andysocialindustries.com fido

    Pau is a 4.

    He was out of position the entire time.

  • Loni

    Too Long…!!!

  • LAKERNATION

    GREAT ARTICLE!!!!!!! I read a few people’s comments on how it was to long and that is exactly how I felt as well but I had to read this. And I’m very glad I did. Who ever wrote this is a great writer. He made some great points and he added a few things that I totally catched last night that I didn’t think to much of for example, when he added that pass right through VLADI’s hands and what he said I thought of it more and I felt the exact same way he felt hahahaha. And even tho it was a PRESEASON game, the first one at that, it still killed me to see us lose because one, I hate losing, I mean losing is the worst thing in the world. When we lose, and I hate it when people say it to, “Oh well you can’t win them all,” if any of you think that way then why the hell even watch the game, that is like someone saying that when we lost in the finals. “Oh you can’t win them all.” Oh yeah and two, it has been no LAKER basketball in almost 5 months, you know d*amn well right I wanted that game last night.