Saturday, February 21, 2009

Laker Watch: Game 1

Game one of Laker watch:  Lakers 115, New Orleans 111.

The purpose of Laker Watch is to follow their performance relative to the spread over the next two weeks and see if their performance has been hurt due to Andrew Bynum's injury and the aftermath.  

My theory is that all professional teams respond to an injury the same way:  with increased intensity and effort.  Their are public doubters, players on other teams doubt them, and the overall intensity is ramped up a notch.  

However, there can be no action without a reaction.  The increased effort and intensity helps them in the short term but is followed up by a period of lower intensity where the players are forced to recharge their batteries and will perform at a below-average level.  

Their energy was expended, pshychologically and physically, during their six game road trip.  The trip was right before the all-star break so it gave them a definite end to their push, it was on the road (so they had to focus more), and Bynum is not their super-star, but still a major factor.  And he is a big-man, so the loss is magnified.  

The spread was nine points.  It took overtime (and a late Fisher 3) for the Lakers to even make overtime.  Also of note, the Lakers missed 15 of 16 shots during one stretch in the first half.  This is the type of thing that a fatigued team does. 

Lastly, nobody responds better (or more predictably) to adversity in the NBA than Kobe.  During his rape trial in Colorado, he would fly in from games and be so mad and focused that he would hit game winning shots and have great performances.  

So of course Kobe will ratchet up the intensity and play harder, but he is human too, and that takes a toll.  

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