Sometimes the Lakers make winning look all too easy. As the sun set on a 114-106 victory in Phoenix a couple of things became clear.
For one, the Suns are reaching the conclusion of their JV dynasty with nothing more to show for their troubles than a couple of meaningless regular season MVP trophies and a perpetually disappointed fan base.
Secondly, these Los Angeles Lakers have winning down to a science.
At no point during last night’s contest did the Lakers seem in danger of taking an L. The Lake Show even beat Phoenix at their own game shooting 44% from downtown while controlling the tempo all night long.
Sure, this game was close at one point in the third quarter but that was when L.A. dug deep into their championship vault and put Phoenix to bed. Before you could say Goran Dragic, there was Shannon Brown colleting a wayward pass and taking off from the dotted line to give the Lakers an insurmountable 8-point lead at the end of the third. Yes, a mere 8 points was too great a gap to close even for the run-and-gun Suns.
The lone bright spot for Phoenix was Robin Lopez who continues to improve and is quietly creeping his way into elite status among NBA centers. Even if Andrew Bynum were healthy enough to go the Lakers would have had no answer for the 18 and 14 Lopez put in the box.
Steve Nash was MIA shooting just 3 of 9 and Jason Richardson’s shot was looking like Kobe Bryant’s preseason jumper.
KB24 was baiting the entire league with his preseason woes. As if he and Phil Jackson quietly conspired to make Bryant’s health appear worse than what it was, Kobe is not up to speed but his 80% is still better than 100% of most. Between Bryant’s 25 on 9 of 19 shooting, Pau Gasol’s 21 and 9 and Lamar Odom’s fantastic fantasy line of 18, 17 and 5, the Lakers were never once threatened.
Matt Barnes is finally starting to look more comfortable in the offense. He dropped 11 in 17 minutes against one of his many former clubs. For good measure Matt even got his first technical of the year.
If there is cause for concern early in the season it is the constant defensive lapses that have allowed the Rockets and Suns to hang 216 points on the Lakers in the first two games. With Sacramento and Golden State up next on the schedule it will be a true test for the Lakers to make some early defensive adjustments as both teams like to play up-tempo. However, with the championship pedigree comes the ability to adjust to your opponent and beat them at their own game. That is what was on display in Phoenix last night and that is what we’ve come to expect from this squad.