by Craig Kwasniewski
Shades of the late 90's Bulls as the Lakers starters iced down their knees early in the 4th quarter during the the Lakers 112-99 win over Toronto. The Lakers have breezed through a flurry of mediocre teams and at 14-1 the they're headed for the Battle Royale on December 25th against Boston. Here are a few observations from my seats in Section 316:
Gasol is on fire! Lost in the LeBron to NY and Lakers going 81-1 talk is just how effective Pau Gasol has been on offense. It was predictable that that Gasol would get his fair share of good looks especially with defenses focusing on Kobe and bigs unable to double because of Bynum but Gasol has been NBA JAM on-fire in the past few games. And with every game his one-on- one game is more aggressive. Tonight he went right at Chris Bosh with a few post-ups and made it look easy. Plus as Phil Jackson pointed out in the LA Times, his rotational defense has been a pleasant surprise.
Bosh Off Night = Killing My Fantasy Team. My best fantasy hoops player Chris Bosh (a second round pick) has been a monster all season with double-doubles and 30- plus games left and right. Most of it courtesy of Jermaine O'Neal keeping the defense honest and preventing constant double teams. Tonight with O'Neal out (what's with O'Neal surnames and sitting out multiple games?) the Lakers swarmed Bosh, forcing him to take jump shots from the top of the key. So great... My Lakers roll while my fantasy hoops team tanks (staring five of Nowitzki, Bosh, David West, Brandon Roy and (heavy sigh) Rip Hamilton (bad draft pick because of too much alcohol because the draft was at Hooters and I drunkenly took Monta Ellis for my 5th pick thinking I got over everyone and forgetting that he's out for like 540 games, needless to say fantasy dratfs at Hooters has it's up and downs))).
Bargnani not living up to the #1 draft spot. Toronto got a quality 4th best player on their squad in Andrea Bargnani. CLEARLY he's no Dirk Nowitzki (as some scouts predicted)... he's a good role player (like Odom is to the Lakers) but nothing more. There's none of the "it" qualities that you see right off the bat in superstars. I'm not hating on the dude, I'm just saying that he's definitely second round talent and not the #1 overall pick.
Fisher - Calderon Clash: Maybe D-Fish took Rick Fox's criticism of the Lakers being soft to heart because his play was very Rick Fox confrontational tonight. Fisher was clear to establish a physical presence and was in Calderon's face all night even doing the I'm-not- fouling-him-while-leaning-in-with-an-elbow-to-the-face routine that Rick Fox was famous for. Or maybe he saw that youtube clip of the C's trying to get under Calderon's skin and went for a perceived weakness. Either way, it's nice to see a Laker play the role of enforcer... but the smallest guy on the floor?
WE WANT TAC-COS (clap, clap, clap-clap-clap)!!!!
And with the Lakers holding Toronto to less than 100, EVERONE got Tacos tonight!