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By: Jeff Girouard
Filing out of Staples after last night’s thumping of the Milwaukee Bucks, my buddy Ehsan and I were overcome with giddiness. As we made our way to the parking structure, grinning from ear-to-ear, we reenacted the most vicious dunks of the night with our balled up lineup scripts and lamented how the place came positively unglued after a Jordan Farmar three two minutes in to the fourth quarter. We noted the fact that Kwame was the only Laker to get consistently heckled and shared a laugh over a fan’s air-ball in the Jackpot halfcourt shot. (By the way, if by the off-chance you are somehow reading this “Rick from Wherever-the-fuck,” the next time you get a halfcourt shot for $115,000 make sure you draw at least some back board. I’m not one to pile on, but the miss was so horrendous he barely drew paint. That’s right paint. You make the Sports Guy look like Bob Cousy in that “E:60" piece he did a few weeks back. Shame.)
Once we found the car the realities of LA gridlock began to supplant our excitement. A few minutes of silent reflection were broken when I turned to Ehsan and asked confidently, “Too easy?”
“Too easy,” he said.
The final five point margin of victory is not indicative of the passing clinic on display Friday night. I assure you we are not the most arrogant of fans. Indeed, far from it. We were stressing over a 17-point lead third quarter lead in Wednesday’s game against the Hornets, rationalizing that it was a road game and Chris Paul really is that good... The Lakers won by 29.
The Lakers are moving the ball crisply and making cross-court passes to the corners, almost blindly, trusting that a teammate will be there to receive it. Their attack is deliberate. Even Trevor Ariza seems to be finding his way faster than most would have expected. Perhaps Phil is simply doing a masterful job of masking Trevor’s triangle learning curve by using him effectively in baseline cuts and dump-offs giving him clear lanes to slash to the basket. In any event they're making it look easy out there.
But don’t take my word for it, check out these post game comments from Buck’s Coach Larry Krystkowiak:
"A really well oiled machine that moves the ball. They get up and down the floor really fast. I think based on what I've seen they may be the best passing team that's playing right now.”
He even gave a tip of the cap to management, adding “"I think the blend that they've found over there is perfect.”
A few notes from last night’s game...
Mo Williams is worth every penny of that six-year, $51.5 million contract he signed before the season. His aggressiveness is uncanny and he’s playing with profound confidence. Television really fails to capture his quickness. In fact, he was the Buck’s offense for the majority of the game, outscoring Kobe through three quarters of play. Imagine how Miami would look today had he signed. Sad.
Yi is a quality player. He’s got a great stroke, finding nothing but net on most of his jumpers, but he was not assertive enough to be effective in any other facet.
In case you’ve been living under a rock for the month and a half Andrew Bynum is a beast. I’m not certain what was made about the fact that he was drafted 9 slots lower than Bogut in the ‘05 draft on the ESPN telecast, but Friday night’s match up was a truly one-sided affair. Bynum’s clever moves in the pivot titillated Laker fans all evening and his monster alley-oop jam brought LA fans to their feet. (Which I’m ashamed to admit is a relatively tall task, as most fans are of the “too cool for school” variety.) He even received a smattering of playful “MVP” chants from a handful of overzealous fans, when he shot a pair of free throws in the first half. He continued to impress, shooting a killer 10-13 from the floor. He made it all look too easy.