How can you develop the intuitive sense of timing and teammate tendencies necessary to achieve success on the basketball court without spending a substantial amount of time working together?
Yes, we are talking about practice, the quality time a team spends getting to know where to put the pass on anything from a fast break, jumper, or a post up.
Or, exactly how many steps away from the lane they must wait while a defender is on an island in iso.
Injuries often bare the brunt of the burden for the justification behind a team’s inability to come together.
In the case of the Lakers, causes have been debated and argued as if the injuries they have endured cannot explain the lack of effort at times. The roller coaster ride so far is making some fans sick and they prefer running for the exits. A win over the Cavs won’t raise any eyebrows, but it sure didn’t raise any ire as well. The precipice for greatness, constantly within reach in 2012, seems tactile. A run in the playoffs might actually come to fruition in 2013.
The Lakers are getting healthy. They have coupled the return of one member of their oft-injured frontcourt with games against teams also searching for their identity. As the Cavs mull their rumored decision to hold their chips close to usher in the 2nd coming of LeBron, the Bucks, although sitting pretty in the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference standings, fired Scott Skiles, also hoping their fortunes will fare better with new leadership.
Maybe they will court Phil Jackson as well.
Milwaukee’s version of small ball features the potentially explosive, 18-points-a-piece-per-game backcourt duo of Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis. Coupled with a series of lanky, athletic front court players, the Bucks present Showtime2 with that bit of kryptonite that tends to weaken their repeated attempts to find some extended bouts of rhythm – youth and exuberance. The evidence jumps off of the stat sheet in the form of ubiquitous offensive rebounds. The Bucks wore out the o’boards to the tune of 21-8, resulting in 24 second-chance points. Normally, these reoccurring discrepancies on the wrong side of the ledger equal a great big L for LA. Fortunately for the Lakers, they had Dwight back for the 2nd straight game, and, despite the shoulder setback, he seems to be rounding into form.
31 points on 14 of 18 from the field and 16 boards prove why Kobe and Nash spent most of the game getting him the ball. D12 is averaging almost 80% from the field in past two games. 30 team assists later and the Lakers found themselves in complete control of a game, albeit for stretches in the 1st and ultimately in the 4th quarter, for a 2 straight contest, winning 104-88 at Staples. The Lakers transformed a 79-73 lead heading into the 4th quarter into a 16-point margin, outscoring the Bucks 25-15. Kobe matched Dwight’s contribution with 31 of his own on 12 of 19. More importantly he chipped in 6 assists, including passing up a three in midair for a frozen rope alley oop to Dwight to open up the books. Then, he did it again on the very next trip down the court, setting the all-important tone of PITP. Nash shared willingly, as usual, with 11 dimes.
As the All-Star Break steadily approaches, merely a month away, Showtime2 can no longer rely on the narrative that patience and time will tell the story of this team’s success. They need wins against quality teams. They need to find team chemistry. For their impressive roster to reach the lofty goals commensurate to their talent level, the Lakers must share the court for extended periods of time. Pau could return as early as Thursday, and Blake might still have to struggle through complications. In the meantime, another double-digit victory leading into the vaunted Thursday night meeting with the World Champs can create the necessary confidence for a team that is looking up in the standings for the playoffs.
Two-in-a-row represents a significant achievement as of late, especially coming off of a six-game skid. Any stringing together of wins, regardless of the opponent, is a welcome change. If Pau moves right into the starting lineup, then Clark and Jamison can lengthen the bench at a time when the Lakers cannot afford to lose many more games against the better teams. In this case, repetition is a good thing. Rote memorization would be better. A win is a win, but Miami is hardly a push over. With all of the injuries, setbacks, and other reasons why this team underachieves with frightening regularity, they should view this game as a final, not a midterm. Not that the Lakers are begging at this point, but they definitely cannot risk being too choosey about who they defeat.