Kobe Bryant, like Frankie, says relax
(UPDATE: Yeah, Jenny, we were completely serious. Thanks for the jpeg!)
On the one hand, most of us understand intellectually that championship seasons are often forged out of pain, hardship, and adversity. LA's title runs in 2000 and 2002, for example. Then again, there's a certain charm, at least as it relates to the management of blood pressure issues, in the 2001 run, where the Lakers lost only once en route to the parade and fans had to sweat the outcome about as much as that first scene in an action movie when the title character looks to be in quite a pickle.
Really, are they gonna kill him off nine minutes after the opening credits?
After losing Game 1 Monday night, the Lakers find themselves in a position rarely seen over the course of this season: Behind in something that right and truly matters. Still, while the numbers for opening game losers aren't nearly as rosy, the Lakers aren't going to panic. Instead, after a intense-for-the-time-of-year practice Monday in El Segundo, Kobe Bryant (2008 MVP, All Star, seller of shoes and high end watches, Fathead) told the media he's excited for the challenge of playing from behind against a hard-nosed, muck the waters Houston squad.
These, he says, are the tests that help forge champions. Where He-Youths become He-Men, if you will.
Monday's performance, said Trevor Ariza, was "embarrassing." Thus there's plenty to improve upon as the Lakers take the floor tonight for Game 2. One biggie: Ball movement. The Lakers know they have to do a better job attacking the basket, making extra passes, and generally not making Houston's life defensively easier than it needs to be. Knocking down a few open J's wouldn't hurt, either.
Nor would a bigger game from Andrew Bynum, on both ends of the floor. If he's up for it, Bynum will have to deliver on a still-bum knee that he admits "isn't ready." As for playing time, something Bynum would certainly prefer more of, he knows he can improve his lot by staying out of foul trouble. Phil Jackson says he can boost his floor time with better attention to defense and rebounding. (I say, aim high, and do both!)
The Lakers believe they'll be better, but the Rockets aren't in awe of their own performance, either. LA can't count on a letdown from the visitors. Would it hurt the purple and gold, Mark Heisler asks, to show a little more humility?
The Lakers will get a little help tonight, as Luke Walton practiced hard on Tuesday and should be good to go tonight, adding depth to the rotation and (hopefully) helping the reserves run with a little more fluidity than they did the other night.
I answer questions at The Dreamshake.