The last game of the regular season… finally!

Ever since the Lakers received their Championship rings before the season opener, the only thing that seemed to be on everyone’s minds was getting another one. There were high expectations for this defending championship team, as should have been. Lofty goals of record-breaking wins, establishing dominance through an uber-talented roster and keeping that Larry O’Brien trophy in Los Angeles were posed, and no one — not the fans, media, or even their opponents expected anything less.

A lot can happen, good and bad, to a team in an 82-game season, however, and the defending champions were no exception.

Tonight’s game against the Clippers could have ended the regular season on a much higher note. Instead, it was an evening filled with every obstacle (most self-inflicted), that has plagued the Lakers all season — stagnant ball movement and refusal to run offensive sets (Lakers “out-assisted” by the Clippers 31-20), inconsistent outside shooting (4-11 from downtown), dulled free throw capabilities (19-28), turnovers (14), and injury (Sasha Vujacic’s sprained ankle now added to the long list of battle wounds the team has or is facing).

It is quite a grocery list of negativity, and the Lakers have three days to correct all their wrongs.

There were, however, some positives from this evening’s relatively pointless game. Shannon Brown, after having one of his most efficient games against Sacramento last night, put in 39 minutes of burn to produce 18 points on 7-14 shooting, five rebounds and three assists. With Jordan Farmar appearing for only the final 1.3 seconds of the first half due to a strained hamstring that needed no further aggravation, and Sasha nursing a new injury, Shannon and Fish were it for the Lakers backcourt. If Shannon can provide this type of effort in the playoffs, the team is that much better.

Lamar Odom was active offensively tonight, scoring 21 points on 7-12 shooting. In addition to eight rebounds, he also had two assists and a block. He also got into some words with Chris Kaman after he was called for a foul (a foul that appeared to be a moving screen on Kaman’s part). The fact that their playoff fate had already been decided, and that this game meant nothing more to them than the last in the regular season, did not matter to Lamar. He still played with energy and fervor; something the Lakers will need to make a long playoff push.

In addition, Pau Gasol who, in 28 minutes of playing time, managed a double-double, 18 points and a game high 17 rebounds. He has gotten much more efficient in the past month, and after some uncertain games upon his return from injury, he seems to have peaked at the perfect time.

So there ends the regular season for the defending Champion Lakers. Game 1 against the Oklahoma City Thunder is scheduled for Sunday. In the next three days, we can only hope that all who are nursing any sort of injuries (Kobe Bryant, Andrew Bynum, Jordan Farmar, Shannon Brown, Luke Walton, and Sasha Vujacic) are able to find some time to heal their wounds, and as a team, hope they can correct their wrongs, refine their games, and place themselves in ultimate mental tenacity.

If they want to return in next season’s opener with another ring ceremony, they cannot let anything hold them back — not injury, not the negativity and doubt — nothing. After a regular season with so many questions, so here the playoffs come to provide us all the answers.

Pre-game Thoughts: Game number 82 — hopefully the Lakers can end the regular season the same way they began it, with a win over the team from down the tunnel.

Half-time Thoughts: Sasha landed on someone’s foot and fell awkwardly onto the floor. He was helped off the court and into the locker room by Jordan Farmar and trainer, Gary Vitti. Another injury? Really?

Most Thoughtless Player(s) of the Game: After Sasha left the game, the team appeared as is they just wanted to get the game over and done with and it showed.

Most Thought-filled Player(s) of the Game: Steve Blake from the L.A. Clippers had a triple double, 23 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists.

  • http://facebook.com/jaimeq Jaime Quintanilla

    And to start the NBA Playoffs, we’ve moved back to the old comment system per our members many many requests.

    Go Lakers!

    • 242LakerFan

      Many many thanks.

  • keepon_keepinon18

    Kudos to the old comment system!
    As for watching the Lakers, this season seemed extremely long.

    For the series against OKC, feels like the Lakers are going to need to dominate on the inside (Lamar, Drew, and Pau). I don’t really see how Lakers are going to slow Westbrook down but Ron might be able to frustrate Durant. The Lakers are going to have to expect a very tough series. The Thunder must really want to make a big splash and, because of their youth, they certainly will.; they are also a good defensive team that is can play fast because of their line-up.

    The Lakers also have been really beat up with injuries. Farmar played today for a minute and Sasha went down with a severe ankle sprain (just when he was looking good, too!). I think the biggest issue with this team will be the level Drew comes back in. Lakers started looking really sloppy after he went down and just before Kobe’s 21-70 streak was about to take place. This is, however, the Playoffs ~ Kobe, even if his shot isn’t falling, can (and probably will) adjust to help the team. Bynum, however, needs to play close to 15-8 and about 1.5-2.0 blocks a game for the Lakers to really take hold of the series.

    Sorry for the looong comment, just happy the old comment system is back :D!!

    • lakersthe2010champs

      Well said. Contrary to what’s said by lots of people, I agree with you that it’s will not be an easy series! The Thunder has a good chance, in my opinion, to beat the Lakers.

      The reason is very simple, the Thunder are playing better with a fast, fluid offense, and the players have better BASKETBALL skills. The Lakers have quite some players lacking the fundamentals, especially this year. Ron and Fish just can’t shoot, and you don’t expect them to shoot 50% in playoffs. Kobe is too hurt to shoot. Lamar can be left open and dared to shoot…

  • 09champs!

    Heyy now I can comment :)
    Man, to see Sasha get hurt really got me, I have been a suporter of him all season, I dont know, even when he plays bad, I want him to keep shooting and succeed while he´s on the court; this last 3 games, he had been playing really like the 07-08 machine, with 8,7 and 13 pts respectively. Tonight he had already scored 8 and might have scored 20. Hopefully its not too serious.

    Moving on, Finally the regular season is over, and even though we have been through ups and downs that probably nobody expected, we are still here sitting in the 1st place in the Western Conference and it feels good.

    CANT WAIT TILL SUNDAY… I THINK THE LAKERS WILL BE A COMPLETELY DIFFERENT TEAM THAN IN THE SEASON JUST BECAUSE THIS IS WHY THEY PREPARED, TO BE IN THIS POSITION…. LETS START THE COUNTDOWN, ONLY 16 MORE WINS!!!!!

    • MarkyMark

      YEAHHHHHH!!!!

  • Robert

    too bad about Sasha. I think he would have been key to going against OKC – the ‘annoying’ factor. The Lakers are gonna have a tough time with those ‘fast’ guards.
    .
    Anyway, the season is over – nothing matters anymore but the playoffs. The Lakers are ‘still’ playing injured, so if they can get through the next 2 months, it will be ok.
    .
    Fortunately, there is more time between games, and so more time to rest. That will ‘help’ the Lakers (geez, they’re used to resting anyway, so they shouldn’t have a problem with that).
    .
    (thanks for returning to the ‘old’ comment format – the ‘new’ one was painful. I’m sure you’ll see more comments now).

  • well

    YES! My web browser doesn’t crash anymore. Thanks TLN for removing that other commenting system -Forgot the name but it’s better that way-

  • Marwan Marzina

    Anyone see something here. Anytime a Laker plays great basketball, they are derailed by an injury as if destiny is telling them ‘you are not allowed to play good basketball’. Happened to Bynum after his 42 point explosion, happened this year, happened to Sasha against Celtics this season, happened again for him. Kobe was shooting a career high 47% from the field till he broke his finger.
    All these injuries come at times the Lakers play great.

    • http://thelakersnation.com/blog/category/original-articles/benchmob-beat/ Anna Gonda

      Seriously! It’s like someone did some voodoo on us before the season began =(

      • 242LakerFan

        Where I’m from, we take that kinda stuff a little more seriously, but I was just saying that Sasha was starting to come around. He was hitting shots, playing his nasty defense, then WHAM!
        Add that to Jordan the night before and it does make you wonder…
        As for the game itself…
        Whatever, let’s just get the Playoffs started already!!!!

        • KindSir

          I’m pretty sure someone did do some voodoo on us before the season began, I mean these are the Lakers after all.

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  • xtro

    now the REAL season begins this Sunday. The REAL Lakers will show up.

  • THunderCat

    I was going to say OKC in five because ya’ll have Kobe, but with Sasha down, OKC in four.

    • xtro

      be careful what you wish for, mr. cat.

    • http://www.facebook.com/thejahjah Josh Herrington

      OKC winning a series vs. the Lakers. c’mon kobe can beat a team by himself. no way they get two wins vs us!

  • KBNIGGAZ

    yes