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Westsider Rider

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

"OK, This smells familiar for us"

It's been 4 long years since the Lakers have won a playoff series, 6 years since a sweep and damn does it feel good. The Nuggets finally showed up for a game and looked like they were on the verge of winning it until Kobe stepped up and reminded everyone why he is considered the best closer in the league finishing with 14 points over the last 5 1/2 minute to send the Nuggets to vacation and the Lakers waiting for a 2nd round opponent.

The first half went very well looking like the Lakers were ready to just take the W without getting much of a fight from Denver. Turns out the Nuggets did have some fight in them as they fought back in the third and kept it close for the rest of the game. But Kobe did what he needed to do to get the W. The turnaround jumper over K-Mart as the shot clock expired was ridiculous as was the stretch when he made the 3, then got an and 1 on JR Smith. Only concern is with his Free Throw shooting which has been troublesome at times, but when it comes down to it he makes them when he needs to but it has been enough of a problem for me to mention it.
Luckily for the Lakers, Denver is a team that is not very mentally tough. They gave up at times throughout the series making it easy for the Lakers to go on some runs and put games out of reach. That will not be the case as we wait for Utah or Houston, most likely Utah. But the Lakers have had success against the Jazz this season and I am confident we can get the job done in the next round. The good news is the extra time off will help Trevor Ariza get some work in and it sounds like he could make a contribution in the next round. Still no positive news from the Bynum camp but I am not worried about it, if he's ready great bring him along slowly, but there's no need to rush with the long-term future to think about. For now I'm going to enjoy this series win since it's been so long and worry about all that stuff once we officially get the 2nd round set.


Tuesday, April 22, 2008

What a difference a year makes

The following is a post I started writing halfway through the series but never was able to finish up. Full update a little bit later.

I had planned to write about the Michigan hockey team prior to the Frozen Four but considering the run we were on I didn't want to jinx it and I guess it didn't matter since either way. That said the NBA playoffs began this past weekend and it's just amazing to think how different the Lakers situation is in just one year. From Kobe and no help and a 7 seed to a real team that isn't solely dependent on Kobe and the #1 seed. Considering Kobe's comments during the offseason and then Bynum's injury, I don't think any Lakers fan even the most optimistic ones, could have seen this team winning the West this season. I came into this season thinking that getting to Round 2 would be good enough in conjunction with the development of Bynum but with the addition of Gasol and his seamless integration into the offense the expectations have changed.
With that, the Lakers opened the 2008 playoffs with high expectations of bringing home another banner. Although I can dream of that as a fan, I know this years Western Conference playoffs will be extremely difficult, even as a #1 seed considering the gap between teams 1 and 6 was only 3 games.