Lakers squash New Orleans (the basketball team, not the city)
Tuesday night at Staples, the Lakers welcomed another substandard squad (the New Orleans Hornets) into the building, and once again dispatched them with little problem (a 20 point lead at the half) en route to another double digit, taco-laden win. You've been reading a lot of this book lately, the latest chapter being last night's 110-99 victory, LA's seventh consecutive. It's an entertaining read, notwithstanding the parts about end-of-game performance which admittedly tend to drag, and good enough to put the Lakers at the top of the NBA's winning percentage food chain.
Yes, the Lakers have made the push by feasting on the weak and sickly of the NBA like a pack of lions might antelope in a National Geographic special, but as we noted last night, the Lakers can only play the teams on the schedule, and they're absolutely dominating games. Meanwhile, there is awareness, as noted in Tuesday's game wrap, that the guys entrusted with late leads need to perform with more consistency.
Dwelling too much on this point, though, is a little like nailing the Pick 6 then focusing on the taxes. Kind of misses the bigger picture, you know?
Andrew Bynum missed only one shot en route to 21 points. Kobe Bryant and Ron Artest each notched 18 points, Jordan Farmar 10. Lamar Odom had eight boards and six assists in limited minutes, and Derek Fisher led the team with seven assists, six in the first quarter. Feel free to rummage for more figures in this handy-dandy box score.
More Lakers/NBA news below the jump...
-Pau Gasol has transformed the Lakers since his return from a hamstring injury, but might need a little help getting into the All Star Game. But not the opera. Definitely not the opera.
-In a candid interview hitting stands this week, Ron Artest talks with The Sporting News about many personal issues and admits to drinking Hennessy at halftime as a member of the Bulls. Makes Tweeting during games seem harmless in comparison.
-The Lakers are doing the work defensively.
-Former UCLA standout Darren Collison, who had 20 points for the Hornets in Tuesday's game, has done good work in place of the injured Chris Paul.
-Allen Iverson is officially back in Philadelphia. It's a situation that makes sense for both sides. There's really only one sort of squad that ought give Iverson a look. Top shelf teams can't, because they don't want to screw with what is already working. Bottom feeders shoudn't bother, because what's the point? Sure, he might mean a few more wins, but what's the difference between 23 and 28 besides some ping pong balls? Meanwhile, any PT he gets is time younger players part of a hopefully brighter future don't. But Philly, a team with legitimate playoff aspirations as the season started in a weak Eastern Conference can benefit from Iverson's talent. The injury to Louis Williams (broken jaw, eight weeks) leaves them with Jrue Holliday as the starting PG, and as much as Holliday may be a talent, he can't lead a team to a postseason slot.
Iverson can step in, logically makes sense as a starting guard, and hopefully get them on the right track. The Sixers will have to make some choices when Williams returns, but for the time being, Iverson is a good fit. Plus, Philadelphia may be the only place in the country where Iverson really does sell tickets in a meaningful way. If he can help them get back in contention for a six-to-eight seed (Philly may be 5-13, but Charlotte has a seven seed right now at 7-10) it'll be well worth the investment.
-A fantastically funny quasi-PSA from Alando Tucker and the Phoenix Suns.
-Now that he's the (or at least a) man in Houston, Trevor Ariza needs to demand the ball.
-Rasheed Wallace isn't shooting well in Boston, but he is managing to pick up technical fouls faster than my buddy Chris used to acquire Grateful Dead bootleg tapes. Which is saying something, because that guy had an SUV's worth of those things.
-The Heat, coming to Staples on Friday to play the Lakers, beat Portland last night. The Blazers are now 12-8, and struggling to find an identity. A young team with young leadership, they need to work through the growing pains that come with stretches of bad play.