Dwight handled his biz in the Lakers first win.
The Lakers won their first game of the season after starting off 0-3. It was a must-win so much so that Laker coach Mike Brown had his stars playing in the fourth quarter even though they were up by 20. No one expected the Lakers to struggle for their first win like this and every Laker fan and NBA analyst overreacted a bit. It was warranted though. This is a super team that is supposed to stomp over opponents and they lost handily in their first three games and only one of their opponents is expected to be a good team this season (that team is the Clippers. The Mavs will be good when Dirk gets back and Portland will most likely be mediocre). The Lakers played well in the first half of game 1 and have looked like shit until tonight. People were seriously calling for Mike Brown’s job. Kobe called Laker fans stupid. Dwight kept on smiling. I wanted to punch him. The Laker’s offense and Mike Brown’s Princeton system were bashed mainly for handcuffing Steve Nash who had some of his worst games ever in games 1 and 2. Then their defense was ripped apart after they gave up 116 points to Portland. Steve Nash broke his fucking fibula (a small fracture) against the Clippers and may miss up to a month.
There were some positives though. Kobe shot the ball very well and Dwight and Pau played well together in the first three games. This was offset by tons of turnovers and confusion on offense even by the stars. The reserves have uniformly been terrible (and unlike the stars, its an accurate reflection of their talent). Their defense was the worst though. The Lakers let guys blow by them again and again in the first three games expecting Dwight to save them and Dwight wasn’t just late; he usually never even made it into the play.
None of these issues were present tonight as the Lakers dominated early and never let the Pistons compete. In the first quarter Dwight and Pau beasted, Kobe made all the right passes and the Laker reserves hit shots. Defensively LA shut the pistons down and looked every bit the dominant team that we expected. Pau and Dwight combined for 6 blocks and Dwight looked much better defensively. This game is more representative of who the Lakers will be but they wont be this great every night yet. The biggest factor is Dwight Howard. He is not in basketball shape. Stu Lantz the Lakers analyst estimated that Dwight is about 85% right now. That’s a big jump form how he looked a few games ago and as soon as he gets himself to 100% The Lakers will win games consistently. Dwight’s defensive ability covers up so many holes for the Lakers that they can’t function defensively without him playing well.
The issues the Lakers had in the first three games will still be there and so will the angry mob of Laker fans/media members if they fail. Steve Nash may miss a month of action and the question of whether the Princeton offense suits him will linger. The Lakers reserves are not very good and this won’t change. Questions about Mike Brown coaching ability will persist until the Lakers win a championship and we’re a long way from that. The Lakers don’t need to resolve all of these issues right away though, for now they just need to keep on winning and keep the drama in the background.