The Lakers continue to be Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

After a day of rest at home, Denver, their only real competition for dominance in the West, comes into their house without the league’s leading scorer and just slaps the Lakers in the face like Shaq did to Ostertag.

The very next night, the Lakers go to Portland, where they haven’t won since Smush Parker was our starting point-guard, where even Phil Jackson assumes the Lakers will lose, without Kobe, and win.

A few days later, missing Kobe and Bynum, the Lakers handle the Spurs with Ginobli, Parker and Duncan all healthy.

How does this make any sense? How do they let a Carmello-less team put up 126 points at home and then go out and hold Portland and San Antonio to 82 and 89, respectively, despite missing key starters?

I wish I could blame Kobe’s ankle for the Denver loss, but he played well, shooting 50% for 33 points. And yes, the Blazers were missing Roy, but the Lakers were without Kobe. And the win against the Spurs in all but inexplicable.

What accounts for these incongruous performance has less to do with who’s on the court and more to do with why they’re on the court. With Kobe in the lineup, the rest of the team is more than willing to sit-back, relax and let Kobe bail them out, again and again (See, e.g., all the game winners he’s had to hit this year).

Take him out of play, and now the players are out of their comfort zone. They have no safety net. They have no go-to assassin.

Nothing like a little fear to get a team motivated.

As I’ve noted in this space before, the Lakers need to be afraid of the team they are playing in order to be adequately motivated to play hard. Unfortunately, they could care less about Denver and Cleveland. But bring on the Spurs, Celtics or an arena they haven’t won at in years, and the Lakers will play with a sense of urgency and motivation that is lacking in most their other games. Especially when they are missing one or two of their stars.

Speaking about the effect of missing Kobe, Lamar said it best, “I think it made us a little more focused as a group, to come in here and do whatever we had to do to stay in the game.”

We can only hope that as the Lakers prepare to face a red-hot Utah, the lessons of the last two games are taken to heart. Hopefully they realize that they shouldn’t always rely on Kobe to bail them out when they’ve allowed other teams to out-hustle and outplay them. Hopefully they’ll realize how good they are when they play as a unit with a little sense of urgency. The talent and potential this team has is terrifying.

Just don’t expect them to be the terrifying Mr. Hyde every night. They still have too much Dr. Jekyll left in them.

Other Spotlights

  • Admit it: you wanted Artest to connect.
  • Tim Duncan just looks defeated. It almost breaks my heart. Almost.
  • The Lakers need to do something at the guard position. I love D-Fish, but he’s getting abused by the Billupses and Rondos of the NBA.
  • Who’s scarier when they’re angry? Popovich or Jackson?
  • Artest’s production in Kobe’s absence confirms that he’s really good for this team. As much as I love(d) Ariza, I don’t think he would have been able to put up Artest’s numbers in the same situation.
  • keepon_keepinon18

    Very true.
    What I am really interested in seeing is how the team plays when Andrew comes back. It seems pretty obvious Lamar plays better with just Pau; maybe its just the starting energy fueling him but it looks like he tends to perform better when the post isn’t clogged by Drew AND Pau. This poses questions to whether Lamar should start at PF and Drew come off the bench or not ~ I don’t know how to answer this but I’m sure PJ and the staff do.
    It’s going to be interesting how this situation is handled. As far as Kobe returning, considering he is recovering from more than just a few injuries, I think he should rest the Utah game and probably the All-Star game. Then again, I am no barometer of his health and I trust his judgment.

    Hopefully, the sustained effort continues regardless of who is injured or not. GO LAKERS!!

  • Kobe “Kaos” Jordan

    With the current improvement of the Lakers bench – including the 3rd string guys – over the last two games, there doesn’t seem to be any need to make changes and/or trades before the deadline.

    Hopefully Kobe will sit out until the All Star game to prove a point: this team can come alive and still be deadly, even with the Mamba resting.

  • j

    “you wanted Artest to connect” HA HA HA HA, that’s effing hilarious. I did, but only if he wouldn’t have gotten suspended for the entire season as a consequence! =p

  • Nabaniel

    I would like to see Kobe sit out through the all star game, maybe even longer. Why? Because we all know he brings it every single game. There is no question about his work ethic or how effective he will be, whenever he happens to come back. He may have some off shooting nights, but he shows up to play and get to work EVERY game. I’d like to see the rest of the team get used to showing up like that for a while. I’m very happy to see how they’ve played the last few games. However… It is one thing to step up for a few games, but a few games doesn’t make it a habit. If they play without Kobe for another 5 games or so I think it would be good for the team. I don’t even care so much about the record over that stretch as long as I see the same sense of urgency as the last 2 games.

  • 007

    lol. everyone would be singing a different tune if we lost the last two games. saying kobe should man up and play. or ‘there goes HCA’. or Mitch better do something about our bench before the trade deadline. or ‘We shoulda kept Ariza’. or ‘Gasoft’. or ‘Candy man went out for candy and never came back’. or ‘The candy man’s commercials got to his head’. lol. we win two games and everyone turn off the panic switch. oh well, it shouldnt have been on to begin with.

    • lakerman1

      So true

      • Green Flannel

        Well we are just happy for the success without kobe. it feels good seeing how well we play when kobe isn’t there to save the day. it just….feels good, whether or not they win in utah tmw i still like the fact we went 2-1 without our best player.

  • expo

    I’m sorry I know this probably isn’t the proper thread to ask this question… but does anyone else listen to those two idiots Petros and Money completely degrating Kobe and his importance to the team? They’re drivin me crazy. Am I the only one?

    • desecrator93

      you got a link to what they were sayin?

    • klmbo

      No they were not degrading Kobe. They simply Magnified what Pau said after the game regarding Kobe’s absence.

      Pau said “it was fun playing” What does that imply to you?

      • Drive_forFive24

        yea and after that they said “they don’t like playing with Kobe,” I heard it too. They’re just haters ever since the lakers left to ESPN radio, I’ve noticed a difference in Money’s attitude, especially towards Kobe. P has always been a hater!

        • klmbo

          No they’re just being sarcastic and poking fun at Pau’s comments that playing without Kobe was “fun”

          I do agree on one point. The Lakers had no go-to guy and the ball was moving a lot more.

          • Drive_forFive24

            True… Im just gonna wait ’till after the finals when they want an interview with the 2-Time MVP… We’ll see if their tune changes then!

          • BigSal

            Why would they interview Lebron?

    • papa

      listen to espn 710

      • lakers2000

        BSPN sucks. I try to listen to the games and all I hear is static and faint mariachi! I wish the games were still on 570 because they were clear as a bell.

  • desecrator93

    by the way, last time we beat portland, Chucky atkins was the starting PG and the Lakers were coached by Rudy T (or was it Hamblen by then)

  • http://57.amklac a Million Misses!

    Lets see here, listen to ballwash central -710 am or the best, smartest, freshest, dudes on the airway….THE P AND MONEY………if the lakers are saying its fun NOT having kobe there…you better believe it.

    • whoa

      Petros & Money I can get down with. In fact, it’s the only show on 570 I can get down with.

      Noons there aren’t the same. Myers and Hartman can go hold hands and jump off a bridge for all I care.

  • sasha-sucks>balls


    • sasha-sucks>balls


    • http://TheLakersNation Marwan..

      Sure why not, while we’re making trades, we should give Pau back to Memphis and get Kwame back.

      • KBloyalist

        sorry guys to tell you honestly it is more fun to watch a laker game with kobe playing. I don’t live in LA neither in US….I watch NBA bco’z of kobe I hate the NBA being bias with lebron hype…I’m a laker fan since 88 but not a die hard fan…before kobe I only watch NBA during finals game and routing to those underdogs…when kobe came in I’m all lakers…that is why where ever kobe go…I always cheer for him and his team!

    • MitchKupchak


  • KBloyalist

    should anyone here goes t kiss lebrons ass if ho LA? me !I will kick his butt!

  • KBloyalist

    gasol so sexy on the photo! LOL!

  • Kurt Rambis

    The loss to Denver at home? Can’t figure that one out Bobby? Do I have to point out the obvious? Check the box score. It doesn’t matter who is playing when Denver’s stats read FG 57% and 3pt FG 68%. Denver is definitely playing well, but its hard to compete when a team is shooting like that.

  • rondo

    Kobe the boys are sending you a message . Play team ball stop being a fucken ball hog and play within the system. The hold team gets to see and feel the ball when Kobe sits his ego tripping ass down. Plus they have been winning ballgames the way the Lakers suppose to win.