Kobe’s Gasol-ine Pau-ered Lakers

23 02 2008

There’s been enough time elapse since Pau Gasol was traded to the Lakers to assess his impact on the team – and it’s probably fair to state that the nay-sayers on his ability can now all just ‘stfu’. Without a doubt, his impact – both tangible and intangible – has been enormous.

Lakers go KA-PAU!

Tangible – the presence of Gasol has allowed the Lakers to barely miss a step since Andrew Bynum’s injury, and should Bynum return to where he left off, the Lakers promise to be a formidable unit. Gasol has provided the legitimate second option that Lamar Odom always promised to be, and never eventuated into.
For Odom’s part, he seems to be thriving with less attention. Odom’s never been a selfish player, and as such his reduced role in the offense doesn’t appear to have bothered him overly. He’s still picking up points, and his rebounding has been fantastic. Still, it will be interesting to see how Lamar Odom copes when Bynum returns.

The rest of the team has responded accordingly – including Kobe. The team is energised, and competing at a very, very high level. This one move may not equate to a title this year, but it does mean that LA will be competing towards the top for a time to come.

Back to Gasol.
How this deal has affected LA’s premier franchise was never as much in evidence as the game in Phoenix the other night. Kobe scored 41, Gasol 29 and Odom 22. Add in a handy 15 from Vujacic, and LA looked good.
The Suns claim that they’re only getting started might be true, but if O’Neal’s performance versus the Lakers proves to be all he’s capable of, then they won’t be disappointed. In nearly 29 minutes O’Neal came up with 15 points, 9 rebounds and 2 blocked shots. Some people point to his diving for loose balls as an indication on how energised he is.
Me? Stop it Shaq – you’re not a young ‘un any more, and I’m not sure how long your hips will hold up to that kind of treatment.

How important was this game to both teams? Very. In the Kobe…oh-so-tight Western Conference, tie-breakers may end up being very, very important. With this win, LA move to a 3-1 result over the Suns this season. At the moment LA and Phoenix are locked on the same win/loss ratio – this puts LA on top. Holding the advantage in this tie-breaker could mean a difference of a few spots in the standings at the end of the year.

Even if the Suns do improve – LA still has Bynum to come back, and whilst there’ll be a teething period, that will be a formidable line up. 3 players over 6’11” (two taller), will make them a very tough opponent, and that’s not factoring Kobe into the equation.

As Ed over at MVN’s Lakers Library said not so long ago – “It’s a good time to be a Lakers fan.” (Whoops!  This was actually a comment made by Kurt at Forum Blue & Gold – apologies!) You betcha Ed.

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5 responses

24 02 2008

For the first time, the Phoenix Suns haven’t already ‘peaked’ yet this season. They, and many other teams, have learned from the San Antonio Spurs that making sure all your key players are healthy and rested come playoff time wins championships. It’s a long season, and of course you have to make the playoffs first, but the Suns acquired Shaq when they sat atop the Western Conference standings, knowing they could afford to absorb a few losses in the transition period. I’m not even a huge fan of Shaq, but I believe (and yes, I’m biased as a Suns fan) their trade will eventually pay off the most. The Lakers look great RIGHT NOW , the Rockets are hot RIGHT NOW, but guess which team is loving that the attention, and pressure, has been been completely taken off them repeating as champions? The Spurs know the the grafitti doesn’t get sprinkled down until mid-summer… and they’re lurking.

24 02 2008

Ok, you think that the Suns can expect more than 15 points, 9 rebounds and 2 blocked shots over 29 minutes from Shaq. Really?
I’d suggest that if he averaged at those stats, it would be very good from O’Neal, and that the Suns would be more than happy with those numbers.

On the Spurs, yeah – year in, year out – we hear about the Spurs lurking. And most of the time it’s true. This year tho’, you don’t think they look a bit slower? A bit older? And the injury to Tony Parker seems to be really dragging on.
And you’re ignoring that the rest of the West has gotten better. A lot better.
I’d suggest that the front office is worried about those problems (older/slower, the level of the opposition & Parker’s injury), thus the acquisitions of Thomas and Stoudemire. But unless Parker comes back at 100%, it doesn’t do it for me.

25 02 2008
Kobe’s Gasol-ine Pau-ered Lakers | Kobe Bryant

[…] Read the rest of this great post here […]

26 02 2008
Ed Ziti

Yes it was Kurt that made that comment and I do like the Gasol-ine tag, how did I miss that? The play of Lamar Odom has been special recently. Lamar has always been one of my favorite players and I’m extremely happy that he’s still a Laker and playing the best ball of his career.

26 02 2008

i don’t like the lakers, but with their current line-up, i think they have a pretty decent chance to make a run for the title. when bynum comes back, they will have the biggest front court in the league. if bynums injury rehab and gasol’s adjusment goes smoothly, we just might see the lakers at least in the conference finals.

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