Words by Phlip
I’m feeling some kinda way that the Charlotte Bobcats have a better record than the Lakers…
It was also weird to see the Knickerbockers continue to actually win against teams that one might have previously thought would murder them in how they added the Spurs to their list of victims. Granted, they would go on the next night to become victim to a Grizzlies team who has a “who’s who?” of victories themselves.
I guess what it all means is that as much as we thought we knew about the league before the season started, it seems that we really knew nothing at all.
For instance, I mentioned the Grizzlies up there. Historically, they have been an “also ran” in the league, largely expendable if not simply around for comic relief. Well don’t look now, but they’re sporting the second-best record in the league right now. I know that it matches that of the Clippers as of when I type this, but I tend to rank it higher when stopping to consider that it includes wins against the Heat, Thunder and a season-defining win over the Knicks this week. All three wins were by ten points are more.
Speaking of those Clippers, they ALSO have some definitive wins hiding in their 8-2 record. Those include an opening-night Lakers win, TWO wins over San Antonio and a 7-point win over Miami. The quality of their losses to the Cavaliers and Warriors might bother me a bit–… no, wait. The Cavaliers loss bothers me, Golden State is playing better than anyone might have thought to expect of them thus far.
Just when I noticed the curious nature of the points that LeBron was NOT scoring last week, he turned in a couple of 30+ point games and shut me up. Meanwhile, Carmelo fell out of his virtual tie with Kobe for the league scoring lead and James Harden continued to cool off. Kevin Durant is still top-fiving in the wake of his career-first triple double (overshadowed by the fact that Kobe damn near had his in the first half).
This brings me to the fact that we are now 10 games into the season, so I feel as if I can begin my MVP watch. Conventional wisdom is that LeBron will figure it out sooner or later and have to (over)compensate for Dwyane Wade’s poor sneaker decision making and then monster out another MVP season. I would be foolish to say that such a thing won’t commence to taking place THIS week, with an inferior Milwaukee and grudge matches with Cleveland and San Antonio in his sites.
Kobe Bryant is alive, and therefore is a person who is not dead. After he fired Mike Brown, they set about the task of making it look like Bernie Bickerstaff should be the coach. No, wait… Long story short, Kobe is playing smart enough basketball to be leading the league in scoring by two points per over the next guy and is doing it with .531 shooting and .410 3pt shooting. If he maintains those numbers and ever finds a good reason to HAVE to get to “Kobe Bryant” shooting volume, people will forget that ugly little chapter that started this season.
Now let’s talk about that ugly little spell that started the season. Mike Brown was fired and we cheered. Phil Jackson was NOT hired and we jeered. Mike D’Antoni was hired and we fear(ed). Right now, D’Antoni had only been facilitating practices, but the product of his “system” showed on the court and the fact is now that they have gone 5-1 since the 1-4 start. This is partly to be placed on the quality of competition they have faced, I know, but we also all know that momentum is EVERYTHING in sporting. With Dwight Howard claiming to be “only 80%” but playing as effectively as he is (top 5 in FG percentage, blocks and rebounds – typical for him), then the league should see themselves as “on notice.” I mean that to say that as he progresses and Steve Nash returns to run an offense he has owned for his most effective years AND Kobe playing maturely enough to shoot at a high percentage will mean that the Lakers can ONLY go up, even from here. The fact that he went 9 deep last night in a lineup that is missing it’s first and second string point guards, and still managed a win with a rookie starting at the position should say something. Still, I know what the guy managed to get for his efforts in Phoenix and NY, so I will wait and call it when I can know more about it. Doc Rivers apparently feels some kind of way about the Lakers taking Mr. Pringles over Phil Jackson, but I am holding my judgment.
Seriously, the Bobcats?!!? Look, I know their most “quality” win is over the Mavericks and even that avenged an earlier loss, but they are on pace to win more games this season before Christmas – when last season STARTED – than they did all of last year. I kick myself for not investing in Boobcats tickets now and keeping the Lakers/Clippers ones for myself. I can’t even present myself to make a joke about whose teams that they currently have better records than, as my team is a member of that group.
Miami needs not genuinely worry, they’re in a weak enough conference where they will STILL be the top seed (yes, Knicks fans, I said it) and won’t face much problem coming off in the east on the other side of it all. I would love to be wrong about this but with Andrew Bynum having Bynum’d the Sixers the same way he did the Lakers time and again, the last of the young gunners aiming for the top went back to the crapper. The Bulls are seeing what life without Rose is like – and they WILL make the playoffs – and I cannot much say I have faith in any other team’s ability to turn the corner and compete in the east.
All jokes aside, though. As stated, it is still a bit early to discern which teams will make what kind of noise just yet. Recovery from off-season procedures, coaching changes and gel time needed for personnel changes will become a reality or more directly cease to be an excuse. Naturally, some teams will rise and most will fall.
There are still games to be played, and as long as I have an internet connection and a keyboard, I will be here next week to discuss it.
Words by Phlip