By Craig Kwasniewski
Time to do my favorite thing of all time... outside of cracking on Pat Riley and the Miami Heat, which is way too easy these days, especially after getting rolled by the Celtics' Big One (KG and Ray Allen were out). I mean rolled... at home by a score of 117-87. And all D-Wade could do was score a Barkley-needs-to-remove-him-from-his-five 7 points.
Where was I? Oh yeah, my OTHER favorite thing... outside of cracking on the Golden State Warriors, which is never not fun, especially after losing to Houston 111-107. But I'm sure it's because the refs screwed over Tha Dubs, right? Actually not, the Yao Ming-led Rockets shot 2 more freethrows than the perimeter-oriented Warriors (32 to 30 in Houston). But unlike Miami, Golden State is expected to drop a roadie to a very good Houston team, so there's nothing embarrassing about it...
I'm just happy.
So AGAIN, where was I? Oh yeah, my OTHER, OTHER favorite thing... outside of cracking on the San Antonio Spurs, which... is... pure... fun! Especially after losing to a team currently on a Miami Heat-esque 14-game losing streak. Yes, the San Antonio Spurs fell to the redneck-owned Seattle Sonics 88 to 85. The loss puts the Spurs at 0-2 on their annual Rodeo trip.
RODEO-SMODEO... it's called a long road trip and many teams have their own brutal roadies every year (Chicago has the circus trip and the Lakers have the Grammy's trip), but all I hear over and over again is "Rodeo... Rodeo... Rodeo..." Deal with it and move on! Every team has 41 home games and 41 road games, unless your the Clippers where its 39-43 because of the Lakers. So what does a 9-game roadie at the end of January/early February mean? It means you have a crapload of home games coming up!
Suck it up San Antonio!
Anyway, my real favorite thing of all time... blockquoting myself (only because, as many of our regular readers know, I'm rarely right). Anyway, because of a first half injury to Son of Walton (vaginal inflammation?), the Lakers were forced to use a lineup that I've been suggesting for days. This is what I said on Monday:
Simple solution to Son of Walton crapfest: Shift Kobe to the 3 and start a backcourt of D-Fish and (heavy sigh) Sasha Vujacic. I can’t believe I wrote that, but Vujacic is a lot better offensively this year and his defense gets under the opposition’s skin. And Kobe at the three spot is a ton better than Son of Walton.
So with the Lakers trailing 100-91, a line-up of Jordan Farmar, Sasha Vujacic, Kobe Bryant, Lamar Odom and Kwame Brown put the Lakers on a 29-9 run on their way to a 121-109 win at Staples Center. Two key adjustments were made down the stretch: Kobe was moved to small forward and Son of Walton was NOT on the floor. And as I hoped, Vujacic's scrappy/annoying defense got under the skin of Nate Robinson, drawing a technical foul along the way.
One of the biggest flaws in Phil Jackson's coaching is his inability to change line-ups from game to game. Once he finds his rotation, he sticks with it all season. In many cases he'll start a rarely-used player instead of messing with his set rotation. The best example was with the 1994 Chicago Bulls, the season after MJ's first retirement. Instead of acquiring a big-time scoring guard, Jackson stuck journeyman Pete Myers in Jordan's shooting guard spot and maintained the same rotation from 1993 throughout the rest of the line-up.
Well, son of Walton's case of sudden vaginal inflammation caused Jackson to make the change tonight and hopefully this'll shed some light on the Zenmaster. Until Bynum and Trevor Ariza return, the Lakers best chance is Kobe at the three, facilitating, passing and attacking from the post and sides of the court.
Here's a few other things that I saw from Section 316:
Robinson and Lee were tired at the end: One other reason why the Lakers were able to pull away late in the game was that David Lee and Nate Robinson were simply gasses at the end. Both were having great games; Lee with his hustle and put-back points (21 points!) and Robinson who was hot from the perimeter. They both played a big part in that 100-91 lead but all the hard work and long minutes finally caught up with them. Lee had to fill in for the foul-plagued Eddy Curry and Robinson's taking up a lot of Marbury's minutes, both playing 10 more minutes than normal.
Nate was on fire! The Knicks were running Rip Hamilton-type of screens all over the floor and giving him decent looks, which mostly he hit.
Knicks bigs can finish: Curry, Z-Bo and Lee are all long, strong and have soft hands. Once they got the ball inside 3 feet they rarely missed. The Lakers, on the other hand, blew a lot of easy shots for various reasons. Obviously Kwame has no hands and Mbenga has no offensive games, but it was Odom and Turiaf who missed a few easy put-backs. Odom goes through these stretches where he puts so much English on his shots that they lip out.
Knicks fans not as much of a force tonight: Normally a huge contingent of transplant Knicks fans roll out to Staples for the Laker-Knicks game (with their "back home's" and "out here's"). But maybe the Isiah era has finally taken a toll on west-coast Knicks Pride or maybe they're all at the Super Bowl. Either way, Knicks games are always fun because of their fans but this year was a 3 on a 10-scale.
Laker haters rest easy: This is the last 316 section report until February 19th because the Lakers head out on a 9-game roadie because of the Grammy's. (Grammy's Trip... Grammy's Trip... Grammy's Trip!) So outside of a 10,000 word anti-Son of Walton post, there will be a lot less Lakers stuff here at TAB for the next few weeks.