By Craig Kwasniewski
Here's a few brief takes from the Lakers 106-99 victory over Seattle last night from my seats high up in Section 316:
Not an easy win for the Lakers: Seattle rolls into town at 2-12, dead set on getting playing their young talent heavy minutes over going for W's. Should be an easy win for the Lakers, right? Not the case as Seattle's length and athleticism (specifically Durant, Green and Wilcox) wreaked havoc throughout the game. Luke Walton, still hung over from contract year-itis, was the biggest victim as Jeff Green continued to score at will from all angles in the first half. Walton's too slow, too short and frankly too white to stick with Green defensively. Seattle was able to take a 7 point lead with Walton "defending" Green in the 2nd quarter.
Injury problems expose Bynum on defense: This is hard to admit, but Kwame Brown is the Lakers best defensive big and they sorely miss him in half-court situations. For all the progress that Andrew Bynum has made on the offensive end, he still needs to learn a lot defensively. Don't get me wrong, Bynum's a decent one-on-one defender. He's able to keep his man in front of him and he stays away from committing dumb fouls. He's just too damn slow on defensive help and rotation. New Jersey learned this on Sunday and kept attacking the rim relentlessly. Tonight, he was late on several rotations and Wilcox benefitted early with 10 points in the first 5 minutes.
My favorite Durant moment: This is the first time I saw Kevin Durant in person. Obviously he's a good player, but my favorite moment of the night was when he threw a sweet two-handed wrap-around bounce pass from the freethow line extended to Damien Wilkins in the corner for a deep jumper. You don't see many two-handed wrap-around bounce passes from rookies let alone anyone in the NBA. Nice!
Mihm needs to be wished into the cornfield: Time to put Chris Mihm out to pasture. He's too slow, can't jump, can't block out, can't rebound, can't rotate defensively and can't shoot the ball... other than that he's a great basketball player. Obviously he hasn't fully recovered from that brutal ankle injury of a few years ago and maybe it's time to admit that he never will. All I know is that he's a huge liability on the floor and the Lakers would be better off using his roster spot for a healthy big.
Reason why I like Kobe: The guy never backs down from a challenge (even while he wants out of LA). Seattle switched Durant on Kobe in the 4th quarter and you just knew Kobe (who's been playing the role of facilitator all year) would go right at him at the first chance. Kobe eyed him up, dribbled out the clock and fired up a three from the top... MISS. Durant's length threw off Kobe's shot (flashes of the 2004 NBA Finals with Prince), but I love when two top players go head-to-head.
Reason why I hate the 2007-08 Kobe: Call it facilitator or call it Kobe's version of tanking, but he's lacking the killer instinct from 05-06 and 06-07. Back then all the Lakers had to do was keep the game close and Kobe would cut out the opponent's heart in the clutch. Usually he'd hit an array of sick baseline fade-aways or deep three pointers with Staples Center erruting in MVP chants. Not this year. Instead of closing out a very inexperienced Seattle team, Kobe spent much of crunch time dribbling out the clock looking to distribute to his teammates. Look, I have no problem with Kobe facilitating for three quarters, but he needs to close out in the fourth.