With three games under Los Angeles Lakers’ belt in the 2013-14 season, it has been difficult to get a true gauge of what type of team they will be this year.
What has made it hard to assess the Lakers, is fact that in each game they have performed like a different team by playing like a team that will vastly exceed the low expectations placed on them or one that will live up to those predictions.
In Tuesday’s season opener against the Los Angeles Clippers, the bench carried the team to a 116-103 win by scoring 76 points that included the last 46 points of game, and played the entire decisive fourth quarter where they outscored the Clippers 41 to 24 on 65 percent shooting from the field.
In team’s second game on Wednesday night against the Golden State Warriors at the Oracle Arena, the Lakers played the exact opposite by struggling to score early in the game and were not able match the energy level that lead to a Warriors’ trouncing 125-94 defeat.
Golden State was led by guard Klay Thompson who scored 27 of his career-high 38 points in the first half and David Lee who had 24 points and eight rebounds. The Lakers in their first loss of the season looked a step slower and the defense allowed the Warriors to get many wide open looks that resulted in easy baskets.
Although Wednesday’s game was the Warriors’ season opener and was played at one of the loudest arenas in the NBA, it still does not take away from the fact that the Lakers were unable to match Warriors’ energy and high level of play to go along with porous defense that could not get consistent stops.
And finally, in Friday’s game against the San Antonio Spurs at Staples Center, Los Angeles began the game well as they built an early 15-point lead, but followed it up by becoming stagnant on offense and allowing Tony Parker to use his ability to penetrate to create scoring opportunities from himself and his teammates to chip away at the lead and eventually squeeze out a 91-85 victory.
The Lakers did not to take advantage of a home game against a Spurs’ team missing Tim Duncan, who is sat out the game due a chest contusion. But even with Duncan out San Antonio is still a tough team, but with that said the Lakers had a golden opportunity to earn a win in a game where they held a double digit lead.
So through three games of the season and sitting at a 1-2 record, where exactly does that put the Lakers? Are they a good team? Or will things continue to go down hill from here on out?
All of these question won’t be truly answered until a certain No. 24, who still does not have a timetable for his return, is on the floor with this Lakers’ team.
On Friday there was some positive news on that front from Kobe Bryant, as he stated that he has increased his conditioning in rehabilitation.
“This week has been pretty [good],” Bryant said. “I’ve been doing OK. I’ve been able to push pretty hard, and the next day, come back and push hard again. The recovery of it has been pretty good this week.”
He also added that he considers this past week to be included as one of the three weeks of conditioning that he will need in order get back into shape and return to court.
“I think this is a good start,” Bryant said prior the Lakers game on Friday against the San Antonio Spurs. “This week was a good start. I was able to run and run pretty well, so I would probably count this week.”
But even then when Bryant returns, the team will have to adjust once again to reintegrate him back into the flow of things and then there is the questions of what type of player he will be once he returns and how much of the offense he can carry.
The list of questions concerning Bryant goes on from there, and rightful so as Bryant is the linchpin to the team’s success this season.
So what this truly means is that this Lakers’ team cannot be truly assessed until Bryant not only returns to the court, but also are able to see what type of player he is at this stage of his career following his Achilles injury.
If the Lakers do continue to struggle or bounce back from the current two-game skid: The bottom line is that all of that has to be taken with a grain of salt until Bryant returns, because then and only will you know how good or bad the Lakers will be this season.
Photo Credit: Jeff Gross/Getty Images
Bob Garcia IV
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