Lakers-Magic practice report: The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
For those unfamiliar with this 2004 movie, first and foremost, run to the nearest Blockbuster or prioritize better your Netflix, because it's a must-see, a wonderfully funny and original movie. So the uninformed are in the loop, the plot centers around a couple (Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet) with a serious tendency for combustion. Carrey's character is so traumatized after a breakup that he undergoes a surgical procedure that wipes out bad memories. Unfortunately, as he learns, incidents so painful tend to persist no matter what measures are taken. Thus, the key is how they're eventually handled.
What does this flick have to do with the Lakers and Magic after a 100-75 Game 1 blow out? Well, victors and losers alike expressed a desire to let yesterday go. For the Lakers, that means not allowing a ferocious start to spark bravado chest swelling. Kobe Bryant certainly wasn't uncorking champagne and "It's one game. No big deal." The message wasn't lost on Andrew Bynum, Lamar Odom, or Sasha Vujacic, but it also may not have required required sharing to begin with.
"We didn't collectively talk about it," explained Bynum. "But we know Game 2 is important. It could really change the series."
"Change" being exactly what the Magic are hoping for, of course. But the onus for straightened heads after a 25-point loss falls squarely on their shoulders. According to veteran center Adonal Foyle, however, it's actually easier to move forward after a beatdown than falling short by a point, and on several useful levels. "I think sometimes it's better to get whupped and get it out of the way, because there's no ambiguity about the fact that you got whupped. If we had lost by one point, I think we'd be under the misguided illusion that somehow we played well. This way, it makes it quite clear that we did not play well and the level that we need to get to is extremely high. We need to get better." From there, as Foyle noted, it becomes easier for the coaches to coach and the leaders to lead.
By the way, this wasn't the first time the veteran center and I have spoken, but I'm still amazed by how a five minute chat with Foyle makes me feel like a total moron. As one might expect from a guy who not only received his college basketball scholarship from Colgate, but earned his degree while in the NBA to the tune of Magna Cum Laude, the man's not lacking for smarts. The politically active big man writes poetry and a legit, non-NBA.com blog (which is probably better than mine). Once the series chat was over, the topic turned to the books he's either reading or desiring to read. Let's just say, nothing by Spellings Tori or Candi. BK and I have joked about avoiding conversation Foyle, because it crushes one's self esteem.
But Sunday won't serve as an entirely a blank slate. Certainly, the useful information and specifics will be tucked away for a rainy day. For example, Drew has a better idea of how to defend Dwight Howard while hopefully picking up a whistle or two fewer, plus the adjustments that Orlando might attempt. Even more interesting was Foyle's perspective on why Howard was unable to get it going. Among other factors, it was a matter of patience. Not enough displayed by Howard, plus an exceptional amount on the Laker defenders' parts. They waited until just the right moment before moving to double Howard, and allowed Howard to rush himself into trouble.
Even more of an eye opener was rookie Courtney Lee's night guarding Kobe. Safe to say, that didn't quite work out as hoped (unless Orlando was specifically hoping for a 40/8/8 explosion, and if that's the case, adjustments truly are in order). Having said that, and to his credit, the young 'un is treating this just like any other assignment, albeit a very tough one.
Lee also praised the job by the Lakers creating a recognizing mismatches. Kid oughta know, having offered suffered the brunt end, whether giving up size to Kobe Bryant or Luke Walton.
I also enjoyed Lee's explanation in regards to Howard's remarks about a lack of energy. Lee didn't think the problem centered around mailing it in, so to speak, but rather not enough energy being devoted towards proper execution on either end. Some might consider that a matter of semantics, but I tend to think the rookie's explanation is accurate. Maybe I'm naive, but it's hard to believe a team underdogging its way to the Finals will all of a sudden stop trying upon arrival.
It reminds me a lot of how Laker losses are often treated, with an explanation typically along the line of killer instinct lacking. Putting aside that the opponent actually gets a vote, activity means jack if it comes without purpose. There were stretches of Game 6 against Denver and the Finals opener where the Lakers barely seemed to break a sweat, but busted the doors off the hinge. A game plan followed to a tee will create that scenario.