The Lakers beat the Mavs tonight 109 to 93 at the Staples Center in the Lakers and Mav's first game of the season. The Lakers played without Kobe Bryant, who is still recuperating from off-season surgery and is not yet in playing shape. The game was a Lakers romp throughout, with the Lakers holding the lead for the full 48 minutes, oftentimes with leads in excess of 15 points.
A large part of the Lakers convincing win was due to the excellent performance from the Laker's role players. Fisher had 16, and hitting most of his open shots. George was on fire too with a 77% field goal average. Russell chipped in 10 with good shooting.
Of course, a large reason for the solid win was due to the Big Three Lakers on the court: Shaq, Malone, and Payton. I was especially impressed with Payton, who pushed the ball up the floor on several occassions, dished out nine dimes, and scored 21 points. He had a few air balls from long distance - perhaps he should stick to brining the ball up and taking it to the hole or making the killer pass. If Fisher can keep shooting well, and Kobe heals and gets in the groove of things, the Lakers will have an absolutely unstopable backcourt.
Malone played well too, one assist shy of a triple-double. I think Malone's only weaknesses are his interior offensive game and defense, although he is better at both of these aspects than Robert Horry, Samaki Walker, and Ho Grant, the Lakers previous power forwards. What was really most impressive was Malone's bullseye passes, he doled out nine assists, including several pinpoint passes to big men cutting through the lane. I think Malone, at his current state, is the “worst” of the Shaq/Payton/Kobe dream team, but he is definitely a much better power forward than the Lakers have had for quite some time. Also, I was impressed with the Mailman's running of the floor on fast breaks, definitely something you rarely, if ever, saw from Horry due to his bad knees.
Shaq played well too, scoring some easy buckets down low in the second half. His four free throw shots - all misses - were atrocious. I think a blind man with one arm and a pack of bees stining him repeatedly could have tossed up better shots from the charity stripe.
If the Lakers role players can be plugged into the offense and defense and deliver, as they did tonight, and if Kobe can come back in spectacular fashion and all this hoopla with him and Shaq gets resolved, the Lakers will be absolutely unstoppable this year. I think I am really going to enjoy watching them this year. I much prefer watching five seasoned veterans making smart passes, moving without the ball, and hitting open Js over five 20 year olds making flying slam dunks. Let's just hope Kobe's legal woes are resolved sooner than later, and that the team chemistry is stable enough to allow for productive play from all.
The Mavs didn't play so well tonight (as evidenced by their drubbing). They shot a pathetic 28% from the three-point line, and 37% from the floor, very non-Mav numbers. Part of the reason for this may be the new set of players, part of it may be just a bad night, and part of it might be history, seeing as the Mavs have never won in Staples center, and have only beaten the Lakers like 5 times out of the teams' last 45 games. Antoine Walker was 5/6 from the line. For part of the game he was matched up on Shaq, and played as well as someone with such a mismatch could hope to. The interesting thing about the matchup was that it drew Shaq out from the lane, which opened it up to slicing cutters, and dicing drivers. One thing I did notice tonight was that Forston, the Mavs “center” they got from Golden State in the trade with Jamison, is not going to be able to match up with the West big men. He got pummeled by Shaq, and will have no luck with the likes of centers like Duncan.
1 win down, 81 wins to go! Go Lakers!
Just got back from a pre-season NBA game, Lakers v. Suns. Each year the Lakers play a pre-season game down here in San Diego, and this is the second time in as many years as I've gone. The nice thing is that the sports arena they use here in San Diego is relatively small, so a cheapskate like me can sit in the cheap seats and still get a great view. Of course, the downside of the game is that it's a pre-season game. The scrubs play. The veterans try not to break a sweat. And, this year, neither Shaq nor Kobe played. Meh. Shaq sat his big butt on the sidelines dressed in street clothing, while Kobe didn't even make the trip down to San Diego... had to confer with his legal team, I'm sure.
Anywho, the game was fun to watch, even though the last half was scrubs v. scrubs. Those scrubs try so hard, they sprint up and down the court and turn the ball over so many times you quickly lose count. As mentioned in a previous entry, watching the scrubs in like watching a bunch of high-school players jacked up on meth. They try too hard. No one brings it up the court patiently, letting the offense setup. It's full court press after full court press; steal after steal; poor pass after poor pass. Oh well.
Here is a shot from our seats. Don't let the poor quality of the shot fool you, the digital camera is on the fritz, the view was pretty good.
ESPN.com has a recap of the game...
On a side note, those damn Cubbies, why couldn't they have won tonight. I'm not a baseball fan in the least, but have some good friends in Chicago who have been die-hard Cub fans for life. Prior to entering the stadium the cubs were up 3-0 heading into the top of the eighth. I came home to find out they gave up 8 runs in the eighth and lost 8-3! Cripes. Let's hope they can win Game 7...
Looks like, as a team-building exercise, Phil took his team to play paintball. Reading this news item brought me to laughter as I thought about what it would be like to watch extremely tall and wide men playing paintball. Did they only play against each other, or were there locals there? I could imagine 5'7” 14-year old kids having a distinct advantage over concealability and providing less of a target than the likes of, say, Shaq. Too, those paintball guns probably look pretty small in the hands of an NBA player.
On a happy note, I have tickets to the Lakers sole (preseason) game here in San Diego - October 14th, Lakers v. Suns. I was able to make it to Laker's sole San Diego game preseason game last year as well (then it was Lakers v. Cavaliers - pre-LeBron, of course :-( ). Last year's game was really fun to watch in the first and fourth quarters. The middle part, though, was all rookies, and they played like a bunch of high schools jacked up on meth - sprinting up and down the court, bad passed, turnover after turnover. In the end, though, it came down to a last second shot from Kobe, for the win, which he............. missed.
Hopefully this year's game promises to have as an exciting ending. Also, hopefully Shaq will play, as he did not play last year due to his surgery.