Assuming the Lakers beat Minnesota on Friday, the Lakers will be 18-3 at the end of this first phase of their season.
Commentators have made a huge fuss of the Lakers’ long stretch of home games and how great that must be for the Lakers. The many haters will point to the long road trip ahead and smirk that the Lakers surely won’t be able to do nearly as well on the road as they have done on home. Both these points are overstated.
My friend Greg, a killer guard in his own right, made a good point about long stretches of home games — they’re much harder to sustain than people think. Sure, you get to sleep in your own bed and play in front of your crowd, but your focus is also more shot. You have a life, you’re going out, you’re spending time with your kids and family, running errands and alike. You’re not thinking only of basketball and the game at hand the way you do when you’re on the road. Perhaps that’s why despite the back-to-back, Miami came one “oh-my-god-I-can’t-believe-that-went-in” shot away from beating the Lakers.
Adding to that road-trip-focus is the veteran spirit of the team, starting with Phil Jackson on down.
They’re disciplined. They’re unfazed by lack of home court advantage. Even the younger players have a certain veteran strut about them.
I don’t think the boos and jeers of a hostile crowd will really bother Farmar or Brown. This is evidenced by the stellar road record they had last season: 29-12. That discipline and focus will feed right into their much improved defense this season, courtesy of Artest and Bynum. Defense that stifled the Jazz to zero points in the first 8 minutes of the fourth quarter and 6 the rest of the way.
And all lovers of the game will tell you that defense and poise win road games.
Finally, there’s Kobe’s bloodthirst. No one this side of Michael Jordan feeds on adversity the way Kobe does. The more venomous the hatred directed at him and the team, the more he wants to drive a dagger into the heart of an opponent’s crowd. I almost think he prefers the sound of silence on an opponent’s floor to the MVP chants at Staples Center.
The Lakers deserve more credit for maintaining their focus and discipline during this streak of home games. They managed to not get too complacent despite their winning streak and despite knowing that they’re more talented than every team they’ve faced thus far. That’s saying something about the coaching staff. But more important, it bodes well for the road trip ahead. Focused. Poised. Defensive.
And most of all, bloodthirsty.
- The Jazz’s uniforms are even uglier in green. Also ugly: Carlos Boozer, who grooms his armpit hairs. Seriously. They’re perfect circles. Watch next time he shoots freethrows.
- It’s awesome watching a Laker game in another city on their local station. Even the Lakers’ opponents’ announcers were in awe of the Lakers. I can’t imagine Stu saying, “Wow, it’s incredible how talented and amazing the Celtics are.”
- Gotta love Houston. Japanese-owned arena (Toyota Center) in America with Chinese advertising.
- How much do you think Robin Lopez hates that his twin brother is by far the better player?
- God, I HATE Phoenix.