Who makes the pre-season schedule anyway? Whoever it is has no sensitivity to the feelings of the Warriors and their fans. Its hard to go into the regular season feeling good about your team’s chances when every other preseason game they’ve played has been against the World Champion Lakers.
Call me crazy, but I would make this Lakers team a favorite against the best of the Michael Jordan Bulls teams. At point guard, you have have nothing but role players: no edge there. Jordan and Pippen against Kobe and Artest: we’ll give the edge to the Bulls. How big an edge? A question for the ages.
But Longley, Wennington and Rodman against Bynum, Gasol and Odom? Hmmmmm. As much as I loved Rodman, that’s where those Bulls teams fall short. This current Lakers team is dominant offensively at four positions on the floor. The Bulls were dominant at two spots only.
The Bulls had 3 great defensive players when you add Rodman to the big two. But their frontline lacked the athleticism and incredible length of this Lakers team. This team is going to embarrass virtually every team they play.
Reggie Miller recently stated that he expects this Lakers team to tie the 72 win regular season record set by Jordan’s Bulls. A ridiculous, over-the-top prediction. That I think is 100% right.
So I don’t read too much into the Warrior’s struggles against this team. I certainly don’t see it as a predictor of their season. The Warriors are going to get massacred against this team. And so will Portland, Denver, Dallas and Utah. On to the analysis:
The Big Lineup
How great was it to see Rony Turiaf in the starting lineup? The Warriors captain has been greatly missed. He gave a great performance in his first game of the season. 12 pts, 12 rbs, 4 assists and 3 bs in 32 minutes of action. Welcome back Rony. Having said that, he and Biedrins looked like kids trying to contain Andrew Bynum, who went for 20 and 9. Its pretty disheartening that the Lakers are dominant even at their least experienced position.
The Warriors opened with a big lineup of Biedrins, Turiaf and Randolph. I hope you didn’t miss it. It’s probably the last time you see it this season. Anthony Randolph is just not ready to play small forward. His floor game is still raw, and his outside shot isn’t ready either. The Warriors looked horrible on the offensive end with this lineup: poor ball movement, and no shooting. Randolph got temporarily knocked out of the game with another hard fall on his tailbone, and was replaced by Morrow. And the Warrior’s floor game improved immediately.
The pairing of Biedrins and Turiaf looked pretty good though. Both of these big men pass well enough now, and run the floor well enough, that Nellie may give them some run together. The presence of Mikki Moore as a legitimate backup will make this easier.
Randolph returned to the game, but finished with a lousy line. Partly I’m sure because of his sore tailbone. But also because he can’t get much done against the length and physicality of this Lakers team. He did play some nice defense in the second half, when he was matched up against Ron Artest at power forward. (Yes, with Gasol in street clothes, Phil Jackson played small ball for much of the game.)
Monta was better in this game than the last. He got to the basket and to the line. He still had trouble hitting an outside shot, however, and was putrid from the line. And there was no evidence that he is progressing as a point guard. I never got the feeling that he was running the team in the first quarter. Stephen Jackson was running the team.
I am very disconcerted by the fact that the Warriors ran virtually no pick and roll with Monta. I had expected this to be a primary weapon for this team. Is this a sign that Monta can’t pick it up?
I’m also concerned that Monta still does not look like the Monta of old. He is nowhere near as quick, and doesn’t get the same elevation on his drives. He doesn’t get the same elevation on his pull-up jumpers either. The old Monta seemed to levitate. This Monta is distinctly earth-bound. Scary.
Jackson did a good job on Kobe in the first quarter, forcing him into difficult shots. Kobe being Kobe, though, he made them anyway. Jack also did a nice job on the offensive end of the court, holding things together for the discombobulated Warriors, and running the point-forward to good effect. He wound up with 10 assists, even getting Morrow a three. Unless and until Monta starts improving, point-Jackson may remain the Warriors’ best option on the first unit.
AM did a nice job burying his open shots. Unfortunately, he gave up as good as he got. He wound up getting beat off the dribble by both Sasha Vujacic and Adam Morrison in this game. That’s not easy to do.
After one off game in his return to the rotation, Watson looked like his old self in this game. Self-assured with his handle, opportunistic on defense. He was also aggressive going to the hoop and finished well, which was a weakness last year. I would be very happy to note this progress, if I weren’t sad that he looked quicker on his drives than Monta Ellis.
hit a corner three in garbage time! Should Randolph be concerned? (Just kidding. I think.)
just looks like a player. His 4-6 tonight included a nice pull-up J off the dribble, and a killer cross-over and driving layup. His self-possession is extraordinary.
who I generally despise as the ass-kissing color commentator of the Lakers, actually uttered a candidate for line of the year in this game. After DJ Mbenga made a nifty move and finish, Lantz shouted “It’s alive!”
You may have to take another look at Mbenga to get this.