Thursday, December 30, 2010

Cam & Bilbo Weekly Chat: THE Christmas Day Massacre; Lakers & Heat

Bilbo teaches son to work for him

Cam teaches son to do the Blue Steel

Bilbo: After a morning of pork and an earful of mother-in-law, I was ready to relax and watch the epic Christmas battle between The Heat and The Lakers. I had actually been looking forward to this game since the start of the season and I will freely admit that I was hoping Kobe would demolish LeBron. But then something weird happened. As the game went on, I started loving it when The Fakers struggled early and I found myself cheering when LeBron drained 3 after 3 in Ron Ron’s face. And then I realized, as much as I disliked the way LeBron handled his move to Miami and the media orgy that followed, I had to admit to myself that they are very entertaining to watch. I also realized that no matter how much I tried to convince myself, I could never, ever, ever root for the Lakers.

Cam: Yes, as true blue (and yellow) Warriors fans it is very tough to feel anything but spite (and jealousy) for the Lakers as a whole. You can respect what they do on the court but their fakeness and ego perfectly personify the LA region. This is a very Nor-Cal perspective and is really the only way Warriors fans can cope with the disparity in accomplishments, but it is important to know where we’re coming from. Regardless, I hope that our liberated fandom (dude, we rock) allows us to be somewhat appreciative of the Lakers and how they play the game of basketball. On the other side of this matchup, you bring up the communal eye-rolling that collective EXTRA! EXTRA! pop-culture-knower has towards the Heat and LeBron in general. I’m pretty sure my wife’s mom knows that “The Decision” has to do with LeBron James, basketball, and is bad. So here we had two of the best and most hated teams in the NBA. I had been looking forward this game too and was happy to see somebody lose big with the game not living up to the hype. From Phil Jackson complaining that playing on Christmas is a bad idea to Kobe saying that it’s “just another game” to the Heat keeping their mouths shut (finally) and just going out there and kicking the Lakers ass, it was fun. I would have avoided my family for 2 hours on the holiest of present-opening holidays if the Mavs played the Spurs, but this matchup was fun to drink egg nog to and chat with your family about. Shall we dissect the game?

Bilbo: I skipped the egg nog and had a 6 pack of IPA at my side for this game. Minus the suite opening alley oop dunk from Bryant to Odom, the first quarter was horrendous for LA. Gasol was very timid, Kobe was in his “lay-back-the-first-half-and-turn-it-on-in-the-third-quarter mode taking only four shots, and Artest was trying to “get in LBJ’s head” and failing miserably by picking up two quick fouls. Kobe/Gasol/RonRon were 0-12 in the 1st quarter!! Meanwhile The Big Three shot 50% and Chris Bosh was on fire with nine points in the quarter. He threw down a huge dunk off a great pass from D-Wade and Odom stood motionless as he flew by. That would be the theme for the Lakers. No passion, no urgency, no nothing. But despite the slow start the Lakers were only down 6 going into the second so they were still in the fight…for now.

Cam: The only thing the Lakers had going for them were those glow shoes they were wearing. Maybe if they went with green socks and red shoes like the Warriors did later that night they would have had the Santa karma on their side. This game was so hyped that I couldn’t believe there wasn’t another Nike jive talking puppet commercial set in a puppet barber shop or in the shared puppet house with puppet Kobe and puppet LeBron. Word on the street (literally) was that tickets to the game were fetching $15,000 a piece and that crowd was ready to cheer. Two great Odumb dunks set it off for the Lakeshow fans until Bosh hammered one down off a dump pass by Wade. I found it funny that Bosh outplayed both Bynum and Gasol. The Lakeshow should have a huge advantage in the post but credit CB-4 for having a great game on the block. Bosh has been playing much better of late and is the key to this whole win streak. As a basketball enthusiast, I’m really glad he figured it out. Wasn’t it just a few weeks ago that the Heat were doomed and the Lakers were unstoppable? Oh, how things change quickly in quick-hit forget the past sports media land.

Bilbo: Speaking of those hideous shoes, I found it interesting that only three of the five Laker starters chose to wear Kobe’s new neon green kicks. Maybe Pau Gasol and D-Fish didn’t like the color, or their size wasn’t available. But maybe they said to themselves, fuck Kobe, I’m not going to support him by wearing his gear during the biggest regular season game since 2004 (ratings-wise). To me this speaks to the detached, individualized style of Laker basketball. This is not a new idea, obviously, but in the next game I saw that ALL five starters for OKC were wearing Durant’s shoes. Unity, apparently, is more important for The Thunder (and Team Crunk Juice?) than it is in LA. I just wish that it would translate to more titles for Durant and co. than for Kobe and Phil.

Cam: Though the Lakers cut their deficit to single digits with around 4:30 left, they ended up losing by 16. Kobe shot 6 for 16 and his plus/minus was a -21. Gasol and Bynum combined to shoot 11 for 22 and their plus/minus (-11 for Gasol, -4 for Bynum) wasn’t as bad as Kobe’s. The week went on and the Lakers had a “really great” post Christmas Day Massacre practice and ended up getting blown out by the Spurs by 15 led by Kobe’s 8 for 27 from the field gem. Kobe has recently called his teammates complacent. He says they don’t work hard enough. He got thrown out of a game with two technicals a while back just to make a point. We are in one of those “Kobe being Kobe” phases which is code for being an asshole and the blame game is on. In these phases of Kobe he doesn’t trust his teammates and does some awfully weird stuff. This can involve shooting way too much while taking terrible shots (not quality shots, as he once explained to Gilbert Arenas) or just not shooting at all as in Game 7 vs. The Suns in 2006. To break out of this pout-fest I would recommend that Kobe start giving it to his big men. If there was any advantage on Christmas day, it was that Gasol and Bynum should have torched Bosh and whichever lackluster body they put down low. But they didn’t. I’m pretty certain that LA will turn this thing around. But if they are going to win the NBA Championship and 3-Peat, it will only be if Gasol ends up being the Finals MVP. Mark my words. Or don’t.

Bilbo: Right on. Check out these Laker big-men quotes from Johnny Ludden of Yahoo! Sports: Afterward, the Lakers offered their usual veiled criticism whenever Bryant goes off the deep end.“We need to really stay inside the system, attack teams and use the mismatches to our advantage,” Bynum said.“We didn’t play a smart game, put it that way,” Gasol said. “ …We have to recognize what’s going on and understand what our strengths are against certain opponents, and try to exploit them.” “It can’t be an individual effort from nobody,” Gasol added. “It has to be altogether on a string, like a family.”

Cam: Great find, Billy. You are a Golden God.

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