It’s been just two games, two victories over poor to mediocre factions, yet it’s meant something. It’s meant everything.
Los Angeles has throttled the likes of the Cleveland Cavaliers and Milwaukee Bucks over the last two contests en route to its first two victories of 2013. And while some will be quick to point out that the Cavaliers are horrible and the Bucks are a fringe playoff team, this was only the second time all season that the Lakers had won back-to-back games by double-digit point margins.
Kobe and crew were “supposed” to win these games. On paper, they had these games locked up. But that’s been the case all season, and look how that’s turned out.
Yes, Los Angeles is still a sub .500 basketball team and yes, its still three games outside of the playoff picture, but this convocation is finally starting to look like a team that trusts each other, that believes in one another.
These were two games where the Lakers held their opponents to under 100 points. These were two games in which Dwight Howard posted 20 or more points in consecutive contests for just the third time all season. These were two games where the Lakers looked like the dominant two-way powerhouse they were supposed to be.
Trust me, exciting yourself over just two games is premature and not at all logical. At the same time, however, these past two victories serve as an emblem of what the Lakers can do, of who they have the potential to be. They’ve infuriated the masses with their inconsistent performances all season, and that may very well continue. But, even if only for two nights, we were able to understand—understand that this isn’t a lost cause.
I’ll be the first to admit that Los Angeles is shallow and needs two or more shooters who can run the floor with the still mobile Steve Nash. And I’ll be one of the first to admit that Howard’s lack of aggression on offense and Pau Gasol’s (when healthy) lack of everything are of concern. But I also feel compelled to acknowledge that this team isn’t a waste; that there’s still hope.
Even at their worst, I’ve firmly believed the Lakers were going to make the playoffs, and I still do. This has nothing to do with misplaced loyalties (I hail from New York), but rather, I comprehend the potential of all the key components involved here.
Bryant leads the league in scoring at 34, Nash can still dish out 10 or more assists on command and Howard (back spasms aside) is still the most dominant center the league has to offer. After watching Pau’s Olympics display, I’m convinced there’s a shred of two-way greatness in him as well.
Just like I’m convinced the Lakers have turned a corner (finally). Not because they’ve beat up on two inferior teams. Not because they’ve put together a win streak of at least two games for just the third time this season. Not because the names on their roster suggested they had the ability to turn a corner.
But because, in these two games, more so than any other games this season, the Lakers played like a team; they played freely and together on both ends of the floor.
For that, even after just two games, I believe.
And you should too.
Dan Favale is a firm believer in the three-pointer as well as the notion that defense doesn’t always win championships. His musings can be found at Bleacherreport.com in addition to TheHoopDoctors.com. Follow @danfavale on Twitter for his latest posts and all things NBA.