Kobe Bryant drove into the lane, hopped high above the crowd in the paint and heaved the ball with both hands to an open Derek Fisher for three — SWISH! Running backwards in transition, Derek turned his head over his right shoulder and pointed at Kobe. Their eyes still locked, Kobe lowered his head and pointed right back. That exchange of non-verbal communication from the Laker captains was as telling as the new Championship ring that Phil Jackson gets to sport this post-season. Those few seconds of interaction between Kobe and Fish say, “sometimes it will be easy, and sometimes it certainly won’t. But no matter what stands in our way, we will lead you there.”

For all the doubts and fears that the Lakers instilled in their loyal supporters this past season, it’s nice to be reminded of who is running the helm, and when Kobe and Derek play with as much energy and fervor as they did today, the rest of the team could only follow suit.

There have been many storylines surrounding this Lakers-Thunder series — from Phil’s supposed mind games, to the young ingénue versus the accomplished veteran, to finally being able to measure Ron Artest’s worth to this team — the largest elephant in the room was the effectiveness, or possible lack thereof, of Andrew Bynum who was, yet again, returning from injury.

In his post-game interview, Andrew was asked if he considered himself a veteran. He answered, “I don’t feel like a veteran yet. I’m trying to earn that title. That comes from more experience, it comes from being more of a leader out there, being more vocal. It comes from earning trust in these playoffs.”

With a double-double in his first game back since injuring his achilles, Andrew is well on his way to earning that veteran status. Against an Oklahoma City team who has no one to match against him, Andrew scored on patient post-moves that earned him easy dunks, one over Collison who pales in comparison to his abilities. Andrew also ran back in transition and positioned himself in prime spots to receive passes in the paint for high percentage shots. He collected four blocks, grabbed 12 rebounds (9 defensive) and in the end, he looked like someone who has been here before.

Alongside Andrew in the Lakers’ first win was the ever effective, ever intelligent, Pau Gasol. The potential for domination in the hands of the two 7-footers has been like a test all season long. One always seemed to be injured, or one seemed to have an excellent game at the expense of the other. Today, however, Pau and Andrew showed that the playoffs are as good a times as any to get their collective efforts going.

Neither got in the other’s way and Pau reminded the nation that he is more than layups and dunks (though he did have one beautiful dunk from a split-second lob pass from Lamar Odom). If he doesn’t score from the paint, he can take a few steps back and hit face-up jumpers as efficiently as Kobe. Pau actually channeled his inner Kobe when he jerked a shot after being fouled and turned in a 3-point play. With 10 rebounds and three blocks to end the afternoon, Pau, again, did not disappoint.

The key to this Lakers’ win, however, was their defense. They only shot 41% themselves, but they also held the Thunder to just 40% shooting. With Ron Artest leading the defensive charge primarily against Kevin Durant, who shot just 7-24 from the field, this victory was certainly not won on the offensive end, as excellent as it was in the first quarter. Ron swarmed the NBA leading scorer all afternoon, using all but his last foul to stay in the game. Kobe even ran back in transition to block one of his shots. The Thunder suffered three shot-clock violations and there were airballs aplenty for the young team.

Short on offensive sources named Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City let Russell Westbrook loose and he took every open lane the Lakers gave him, scoring on drives and jumpers. He was the reason the Thunder stayed in the game as long as they could. The young guard from Long Beach finished with 23 points and eight assists.

Kobe did not have one of his most efficient games, shooting just 6-19 and going an uncharacteristic 7-12 from the free throw line. But, like many of his teammates, he scored when they needed him and his defense was there, earning him two steals.

Each time the Thunder cut away at the lead, a Laker three would follow — from Jordan Farmar, Ron Artest, Kobe, Derek, and Lamar. Maybe it would have been nice for that 17-point lead to stick all the way through. Maybe they could have shot better than 41% from the field. The free throws certainly could have used more work (15-22). But Kobe once said in a post-game interview after a difficult win, that the road to a championship isn’t always the prettiest. Sometimes, he said, you have to grind it out even when the game gets ugly. Today, it started to get ugly, but the Lakers grinded and we are 15 wins away from another title.

Pre-game Thoughts: Round 1 — FIGHT!

Half-time Thoughts: 39-47, Lakers — The Thunder were down 17 points but managed to get within 8 by letting Russell Westbrook take over. Let’s see what adjustments the Lakers can make in the second half.

Most Thoughtless Player(s) of the Game: Every player put in a whole season’s worth of energy and effort today. We’ll let this category slide.

Most Thought-filled Player(s) of the Game: Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol, who combined for 32 points, 25 rebounds, 7 blocks and 4 assists! Let’s hope that stat about the Lakers winning 76% of their games when Pau and Andrew are both playing holds true throughout these playoffs.

  • http://thetruthrenaissance.wordpress.com/ BE_A_LakerFan

    Good win today.. 1 down.. 15 to go.

  • LakerMarc

    THIS is the Championship Lakers I have expected and been waiting for all season. There were a few glimmers of this throughout, but they were in the building today. They were so effective and I can’t help but think they will get even better OKC is only the beginning. Nothing was working for Durant today…NICE!!!!! Nice EFFORT LakersS!!!!!!

  • LakerMarc

    Oh and don’t think I didn’t notice you went back to the previous post a comment way. YAY!!!!

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

      Can’t get anything pass your head, Marc. ;)

  • Robert

    The Lakers seemed to have solved the ‘fast guard’ problem (for now). Plant 2 seven foot trees in the post. Of course, we won’t run into that type of problem the rest of the playoffs – it will be ‘big man’s’ game the rest of the playoffs, especially against Cleveland.
    .
    I think a good strategy would be to finish each series early, to rest up for the following series. Rest is now the Lakers’ ally (and not the ‘enemy’ anymore – where it used to be that too much rest causes ‘rust’).
    .
    Let’s sweep OKee Dokee.

    • KindSir

      It sure as hell didn’t seem like they solved the fast guard problem when Westbrook singlehandedly kept them in the game by absolutely abusing fisher out there.

    • Miguel

      I swear the problem will be solved if they put Brown on Westbrook and sub Fisher a little sooner than they were tonight… I think he could lock him down

      • trippleocho

        The problem is Shannon doesn’t have a consistent jumpshot like Fisher. So the offense will be affected.

        • TOUCHING_MYSELF

          WTF?! What consistent jumper? I know that you’re not raving about Fisher having a consistent jumper! He’s shot 38% for the season and is 32-89 out of the last 10 games! That’s just under 36%! Wow, what season of the Lakers you were watching to be sayin that Fish has a consistent jumper?

          Just did the numbers for Shannon for the last 10 games… 33-92, which is about 35.8% , now I see where you thought Fisher’s jumper was more consistent… the less than .2%! Hahaha!

          I think that we’re screwed in the position no matter what. The Lakers really need to address that deficiency during the off season! The thing with Fish is we need is experience and his leadership during the playoffs, but we also need Shannon’s energy and athleticism, and then there’s Farmar’s know how of the triangle and his ability to somewhat create his own shots in the second unit! Phil needs to have a perfect mesh of the 3 with the minutes if we’re to patch up that hole for this season of the playoffs!

          GO LAKERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!

          • bgipple91

            you’re right about the percentages, but you have to admit that when Fish needs to make the shot, he does.

          • TOUCHING_MYSELF

            I hear ya bgipple91, but don’t you think that every shot that our Lakes throw up up is a shot that they NEED TO MAKE? Ha!

      • daboss1848

        Minor problem – most of Westbrook’s points came off of screens and fast breaks, not one-on-one breakdowns. Shannon would be at the same mercy of screens and fast breaks.
        .
        The actual deficiency is the Lakers pick and roll defense.

  • livetowin16th

    They’re baaaaaack!

    • LakerMarc

      Well not exactly but it was a great sign of things to come ( I hope). They will have to get better, tho’

  • Anthony

    Solid game from the Lakers today. They played hard throughout most of the game and Lamar and Kobe didn’t even play all that well. They’re definitely not going to keep up that energy for 16+ games, but perhaps the defense can stay up there.

    It really seems like these Lakers are going to go one game at a time.

    One thing I did take notice to? Artest missing quite a bit of open three-point shots. We’ll see if he keeps it up.

    • WINLESS

      That’s when you miss Trevor Ariza, like he did in the playoffs last year…especially in the Finals. They’re leaving Artest open for a reason. Every time he catches it out in the perimeter, he can read the paper and take his kids to school before he takes the shot. Teams will TAKE that shot any time, any day. Even though he did a decent job on Durant he’s still not an outside shooter. He’s always thrived in the box with the Pacers and the Rockets…that’s his game. So don’t expect him to knock down outside shots.

      • WifelovesLuke

        So the fact that Ron Ron has a better 3pt % than Trevor should make us miss Ariza how? Plus…..do you really think Trevor would have had the same kind of success guarding Durant? Nope….not strong enough. I say “Trevor who”?

        • 242LakerFan

          Ditto

  • Robert

    You know, come to think of it, this team is NOT the same Championship team as last year for several reasons; it’s actually ‘better’:
    .
    1) Even though Bynum is coming off an injury this year, LAST year, the injury was more serious and his participation in the playoffs was ‘tentative’. This year (barring any other Bynum injuries), the team should be ‘stronger’ for ‘playoff-type’ play (more physical – relies on more defense). Bynum’s presence will play a bigger role here, and help make for a ‘tighter’ team.
    .
    2) Ron-Ron’s brand of defense is more suited to this year’s crop of challengers. Yes, Ariza was key for the ‘faster paced’ games of last year (including the run against ‘speedy’ Houston last year), but this year’s teams are ‘slower’, and hence the matchups are better suited for Ron-Ron (tougher and more physical).
    .
    3) Except for OKC, Fish doesn’t have to guard the ‘super speedy’ guards. He can save his energy for offense. Therefore, his play will be more effective. (Also, this year, he did NOT have that strange shooting slump that he had last year – remember that? He shot a slew of bricks in regular season, and turned the switch on ‘later’ in the playoffs. This year, his switch is on NOW!!
    .
    In this sense, the Lakers are in a better position this year.
    .
    Other considerations (relating to injuries) are:
    .
    1) Sasha (although injured) is technically resting up (trying to have some optimism here). So, by the time he reaches the Western Conf. Finals, he’ll have the juice to be ‘really annoying’ to opponents. This will benefit the Lakers (again, ‘defense wins games’ in playoffs).
    .
    2) The Lakers (overall) are ‘coming off’ injuries, and not ‘mostly’ in the midst of serious injuries (yes, even Mbenga will be ready to play soon). So, although the ramp up could be slower, they will peak at the ‘right time’ (which is June, when they play the Cavs). Remember that injuries (that are not serious) heal, so time is on the Lakers’ side.
    .
    3) Kobe is an exception to all rules defining ability to play with injuries. He should have gotten the MVP for playing most of the year with a ‘broken finger’, having the 4th highest scoring ratio this year, and bringing his team to lead the Western Conference, and 3rd overall in the league. He’ll step up his play now, but I ‘suspect’ that he will ‘have’ to trust his teammates (who look like they came to play, this 1st game) for some periods, to save his ‘juice’ for Finals.

    • LakerMarc

      Wow I really like your crystal ball. I thought the way that KOBE played was a HUGE relief from what he’s been doing for what 2 months lately? Kobe klnows the name of the game at this juncture in the season is ADJUSTMENT. He’s done just that and I see him getting better. Jordan and Shannon were great tonight, and I noticed that they didn’t give up the lead as today the starters did…….WTF?

  • Robert

    Another point that we should consider for the playoffs:
    .
    Because the Lakers were Champs last year, all the teams in the NBA brought their “A” games in play against the Lakers. Although this was (and always is) considered a ‘liability’ for the defending Champs (i.e., everyone tries their ‘hardest’ to beat them, and say they are ‘better’ than the Champs), what it does to BENEFIT the Lakers is the following:
    .
    1) it reveals the opponent’s ‘poker hand’. So the Lakers (Phil, & staff) know what to expect ‘before’ the playoffs. Phil can adjust the team ‘even before’ the first game. It looks like they did that with OKC.
    .
    2) It gives the Lakers ‘practice’ in playing against teams who throw up everything at them. They have to play harder to win ALL YEAR LONG.
    .
    3) It actually ‘toughens’ the Lakers (since they are playing hard all year long), so they can come into the playoffs with sufficient intensity, from game to game, or series to series.
    .
    4) Other teams are at a ‘disadvantage’ because of this. They are unused to playing with the same ‘threat’ that the Lakers had all year long. So the playoffs is a ‘shock’ to most teams – their opponents are stepping it up, and they have to learn how to adjust to the that. The Lakers already know these things. Phil will just have to ‘tweak’ to win games, from one game to the next. Did you see the post-game interview w/Lamar? He was asked what needs to be done to adjust. His answer “I don’t know”. Why? because they are ‘already’ adjusting!

    • LakerMarc

      Robert….are you practicing your typmg/efficiency as you post your comments?
      LOTS TO SAY but its very intuitive, good stuff.

    • kb24sdbest

      Robert,
      Good thoughts. Let me answer Lamar’s question. What they need to adjust for game 2? They need to find a way to STOP WEstbrook. They stopped Durant, now it’s time for Westbrook. The lakers need to pay attention to Westbrook because he almost beat us by himself in the second half. If the lakers stop both DURANT and WESTBROOK, OKC is done.
      DONT SLEEP ON WESTBROOK guys!

      • mr.laker19

        Totally agree. I saw the Lakers play 100 percent like twice all season, if we played dis hard all season we would of won 65 +. We coasted into the playoffs obviously and still came u wit the 1 seed

  • nope

    Luke being Luke once again. An assist or two complete with passing open shot and turnover.

    • WifelovesLuke

      Boy you know the hate is out in full effect when Luke bashing happens after a Laker playoff win.

      • nope

        No hate, just observation. And where’s that ability to make the bench better like you promised? Yeah that’s right.

        • 242LakerFan

          Gee, all the other posters seem to have watched the game I did, in which the bench was pretty solid. Luke has his shortcomings, but don’t discount his contributions. He is the best passer off the bench and the most fundamentally sound player as well. Get off his back, okay?

  • Miguel

    win could’ve been better, but as Kobe said, “a win’s a win”. For some reason, I have a feeling that Kobe is going to explode next game. I think he’ll throw the defense off and come out shooting in the first half. Great D by Ron Ron, the refs are the only reason that he didn’t hold Durantula under 20. I think that Phil needs to sub Fisher more consistently, especially early in the playoffs. He should put Shannon Brown on Westbrook while Kobe is still on the floor, then when Kobe comes out, Farmar could guard the backup point, and Brown could guard the 2. Much stronger and more athletic than Farmar, so he matches up better.

    • kb24sdbest

      Miguel
      I totally agree with you and I hope Phil is reading this. Farmar nor fisher can’t stop Westbrook because they are too small and Westbrook is too quick. Phil should try putting Brown or Sasha on WEstbrook. Then at the end of the game if Westbrook gets it going, Phil should put Kobe on him. Phil should alternate putting Artest and Lamar on Durant. Then alternate putting Brown, Sasha, and Kobe on Westbrook.

      • WifelovesLuke

        You do realize that Sasha will be out for some time with a serious ankle injury, right?

        You both need to trust in Phil. He knows what he is doing.

  • ThunderCat

    Just like i predicted. We’ll give you game one but OKC will win in 5. GO THUNDER!!

    • Craig_Jolicoeur22

      YOu punk pussy!! get the fuck off this site!!!!!!!!

      • ThunderCat

        Haha. Bring on the hate.

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

        Hey guys come on, keep it clean. Let’s let the playing speak for itself. Thunder fans know that beyond Durant and Westbrook, they have no else. Let the young and hopeful be just that =)

        • mr.laker19

          Lol, I feel sorry for him and the rest of okc =/

          • bgipple91

            Haha Craig you need to cool it! But i agree, the Lakers looked really good. If they continue to play like the champs they are, OKC doesn’t have a shot. KEEP IT UP!

  • justdogm1

    looked like the same old lakers ,can`t put ANY team AWAY…..kind of hard to watch.Blow-outs don`t happen like they did when shaq was here.CALLS were going the laker/kobe way, lucky for the lakers

    • lakerman1

      Dude you must be dreamimg. If you want the old Shaq team go back in time or just get the hell off this site.

      • 808ty

        When was this game ever in jeopardy?

  • Touch MEE

    Well Well Well the playoffs are back and my beloved Lakers won game 1 relize people that the Lakers are not winning it this year if they did, you would see nostradamus on this site. He was on this site last year and picked the obvious winner the Lakers but hes no where to be seen. Sorry to break the news

    • LakerLand Nostradamus

      I am here and I pick the Lakers to win it all you fool.
      Keep hating, I will love to shove my words down your stupid mouth again, just like last season. Idiot!

  • kb24sdbest

    I love how Andrew played today with 13,12, 4 and lots of energy. I hope he finally gets it- that this is how we want him to play in order to be successful. Defense was pretty good, energy was great in first half then it deflated in the second half. Kobe shot poorly again but i like how he played. WHAT HAPPENED TO KOBE’s FT? Pau played like Pau. LO did ok and Artest did great on defense. The bench did okay but could have been better.
    I hope the Lakers continue to stay at the corner of the wall and bang their heads so they can stay awake.
    Can anybody please stop Westbrook?
    If the LAKERS hold their opponents to less than 100 points or less than 90- we should be alright.

  • mr.laker19

    Lets not get too happy but yesterdays game enforces exactly what we already knew which is the Lakers have the most talented team in basketball when everybody plays hard. We dont even have to play good to win, just play hard. Kobe didnt have his normal game, Odom didnt get the minutes he is use to because how well Bynum played, Artest didnt contribute much on offense, but when everybody plays with intensity we cannot be beat by anyone. The most encouraging thing about that game was the INCREDIBLE defense we played all night. Only thing that could have been better of course is our PG defense which has been our problem for…. well… forever. But I like the fact that Kobe probably had the third best game overall on our team and we still won by a good amount. Lets just hope the Lakers dont get cocky and comfortable and come back out and try to sweep these guys. LOS LAKERS baby!!!!!! LETS GO LAKESHOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Thundercat

    Kobe is washed up!

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

      Washed up? Hardly. It may have taken him more than a few shots to get his 21 points, but let’s see your guys shoot threes with a hand in the face in the final seconds, when it counts. Kobe’s got help, and if you think he’s not a threat anymore, then leave him open and see what happens =) I’m sure he wouldn’t mind.

      • Thundercat

        Were we watching the same game. Kobe went into
        Ko-me mode again. This bodes well for the Thunder. Kobe will shot them out of the series!

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

          Did I say Kobe dominated? No man, I said he had a bad shooting game. No one can deny that, not even him. But he did more than just try to score. He played defense and ran the offense. Like I said, he’s got other guys on the team. He doesn’t need to carry the team to a victory anymore, which is something Kevin Durant has to deal with on such a young team. I love the Thunder. No hate on my part. But great players don’t get victories being one-dimensional. Kobe’s got other ways to contribute.

    • lakers2000

      Once a troll, always a troll. We’ll see you disappear after the Thunder gets eliminated, hopefully! I love to see the attention the haters give our defending champions! keep it up trolls. lol

      • 242LakerFan

        I thought he was talking about Kobe doing the dishes after dinner with the family. What a great daddy!

  • Robert

    Agree with all: stop Westbrook in addition to Durant. Then OKC will be stopped. But more importantly (as mentioned here), the Lakers need to manage the pic n roll better.
    .
    That’s generally solved by ‘switching’, but if Shannon Brown is guarding Westbrook, and in the switch Pau ends up as the person guarding Westbrook, it’s over. Pau would then be away from the post, and Westbrook can blow by him.
    .
    It has been (and can be) solved by ‘roaming’ defense (not quite ‘zone’, but sort of halfway between zone and man on man). Who are the principal roamers? Kobe and Ron-Ron. Kobe does that anyway. Ron-Ron probably doesn’t have as much carte blanche to do it, but should.
    .
    It can also be solved by ‘flailing’ (wtf?) – maybe they already do it: as the defense is guarding the ‘quick guards’ who are within the 3 point line, throw the arms up in the air to distract the shot. Even though a shot may not be blocked, it can be altered which is almost as effective. If KD’s game is ‘on’, it will be hard to stop him even if they just alter his shot (just like Kobe, who can shoot through anything). But, they ‘can’ alter Westbrook’s shot – Westbrook is principally a slasher, and so forcing him to shoot will work – keep the twin towers in the post, and he won’t be able to slash like he usually does. Then, defender throws up the arms and messes up his usual mid-range shot.
    .
    Another thing they can do (which they have) is rotate the defense (also involves switching, etc.). When Westbrook has the ball, and is guarded by Shannon (or Fish, etc.), and is ready to make a run to the basket, then one of the other Lakers lines up in a direction toward the basket. Of course OKC will try to pull the defense out to the perimeter, but, if Drew is closer in to the basket, he just angles himself close to the side of the basket Westbrook is running.
    .
    Just some ideas for fun. (… not a coach, but trying to guess what Phil might do).

    • daboss1848

      standard pick and roll d would be for the other defender to step out and block the str8 path the man with the ball is going. This way the man with the ball is forced to go away from basket – allowing the defender to recover while at the same time returning to the “picker.” The danger here is the recovery . . . late recovery will require rotations.
      .
      What we do is a weak show (no actual D – just showing the guard “hey, im here”) which allows the guard to continue moving in a str8 line and cut down to the hole.

  • Won A Ring for The King

    Did you Laker fans realize that LA only won the 1st quarter of that game? The Lakers tried to shake this team off but just simply couldn’t do it.
    -
    This should have been a blowout, intead OKC now believes they can hang with the Lakers.
    -
    -What’s all this BS about the switch is in now on???
    The switch was on for the 1st quarter of that game, helped along by the inexperienced youth of the Thunder. Talk about seeing the world through purple and gold.
    Cavs in 6.

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

      Dude, we aren’t even close to the Finals and you’re already predicting Cavs in 6 against who? The Lakers? How about you get your Cavs through the East first and then we can talk. You think teams like Orlando are gonna roll over if/when they meet the Cavs some time in the East? We’re taking these playoffs one game at a time, buddy. This win was a win and sorry for the lack of style points, but it only matters who has the most points at the end. Win by 17, win by 1, I don’t give a crap. You take care of monitoring your precious Cavs over there and don’t worry about us over here. We’ll see you when we see you…

      • lakers2000

        Anna, thats how many games the Magic are going to need to eliminate the queen. Please don’t feed the trolls!

    • 242LakerFan

      Umm, last I remember seeing, the final score was in the Lakers’ favour. That would imply that they won the whole game, wouldn’t it?
      Now I remember back in the early days of the CBA they tried out a point system for the standings where a team would be awarded a point for each quarter they won plus three for winning the game. This would have been a 4-3 game for the Lakers.
      Unfortunately for the Thunder, this is the NBA, so it’s a win. Period.
      Sorry.
      As for “Cavs in 6″, you’re crazy if you think the Bulls can win 2 games in that series. A little perspective, please.

      • bostonSUCKS88

        haha, couldnt have said it better myself

  • http://rugby-live-online.com live rugby

    Great win, but im very concerned in the long run with Kobe not being at 100%. There going to be times in the playoffs where teams are going to have control up 8 to 10 points on us on the road and that’s where Kobe would take over in the 4th quarter and get us back in the game and close the show. If he’s unable to do that like in years past then teams can focus more on Gasol and others.

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

      Kobe wasn’t 100% last season either, but it’s his determination that’ll will his teammates to get what they all want. I’m worried about him too, but if there’s anyone I would put my trust in, bad knee, ankle, fingers and all, it’d be Mamba =)

  • Robert

    Lakers led tip to buzzer. They also kept OKC on the average 8 points away the entire game. Recall that Cavs also won ‘their’ first quarter, but the Bulls won other quarters (the Cavs won because they had that lead the first quarter – also because the Cavs had ’3 extra’ players on the court – yes! the refs called fouls on the Bulls at the drop of a hat – I watched some of that game, and turned after a few of the Bulls earned 3 fouls).
    .
    This is a reasonable strategy for both teams (or, it’s just the way it turns out): establish lead first quarter, maintain lead if possible – no need to blow out at this stage of the playoffs. Save energy for rest of playoffs (least of all, the Finals).
    .
    Also recall that the Cavs are in the L’East league. Only the top 3 or 4 teams are capable (including the Cavs – although Boston is technically ‘finished’ – they had their run, paid the price of a Championship by loading up with veterans after their prime, and the run is over). The West is filled with 50 win teams. Put the Lakers in the L’East, and they would have a 72/10 record.
    .
    Notice that the Cavs are loading with ‘after prime’ veterans too (Shaq, Antawn, etc.). Limited window for LeBrick – he should bail Cleveland after the FInals.

    • lakers2000

      Well said Robert!

  • rondo

    When Bynum was in the game Westbrook did not drive to the basket. When Bynum and Gasol is in the paint the Thunder players do not penatrate to the basket.

  • althelakerfanyoushouldmeet

    One game at a time. Lakers biggest advantage is the coaching staff. That advantage is against anyone.

    • 242LakerFan

      And that’s the bottom line, because Stone Cold Phil Jackson said so!