- Tuesday, February 1, 2011 5:25 AM
- Written By: Harry Parmenter
Well, that was quite a beatdown Sunday. Hardly unexpected, and it's still barely halfway through the meaningless regular season, but Boston looked good, as it has all year.
For a team characterized as old, the Celtics are pretty quick. Rajon Rondo: a gazelle. His second half was flawless. Nate Robinson: proving a much better fit than was expected. Doesn't hesitate and knocks 'em down at key junctures. Glen Davis: hard worker who plays much bigger than he really is. Ray Allen: continuing to thwart Father Time, his effortless stroke still makes him the best shooter in a league now dominated by dunks and three-point heaves. Paul Pierce: talk about getting your shot off decisively! He is a stud. KG: looks better than he has in years.
On the other hand Shaq looked like Henry Finkel on Sunday and Jermaine O'Neal remains MIA. Sheed was better -- and probably still would be -- than the two of them put together.
Meanwhile LA reminds me of the Detroit team that, after back-to-back titles in 89-90, got old in a hurry and swept by Chicago in the infamous Isiah walk-off in Game 4.
Kobe Bryant remains incomparable, but Fisher, Brown, Blake and Artest suddenly appear weak, making the team vulnerable. Gasol has played so many minutes this year he was gassed in Q4 against Boston and looked nothing like the take-charge animal last spring. Bynum is a beast but still getting in shape. Odom remains an enigma.
The good news for LA is that the Lakers have still got 34 games to get it together and I'm sure they will. They have the best coach in history, one of the best players ever, and a habit of hibernating until spring when they stick it in fourth gear. The challenge for them in the next three months is finding third.
I still don't think the Texas teams can take them down but OKC, especially if Ibaka steps up as he did last May, could be their waterloo. The way things sit now LA would have to get through both OKC and San Antonio to meet Boston or Miami, and that could prove too much.
But if history has taught us anything it's that you don't underestimate the Lakers. The real key for them is Bryant's health. They'll ratchet up the D when they need to, rest assured. When motivated, as they were against Utah after Jerry West's strategically stinging comments (he's a LAKER for life!) they can and will beat anyone.
But their lifelessness Sunday was telling. I don't think anyone is surprised by Boston's win. After all they blew the title game at Staples in June and needed a smidgen of revenge. Still, LA devolved into the Kobe Solo Show; no ball movement at the end, no putbacks, no stops.
LA talk radio went into a predictable tizzy, talking trade, etc. I still think Blake, Barnes, Odom, Brown and Ratliff will prove a powerful playoff second unit. Although, btw, exactly WHY is Luke Walton in the NBA? Dennis Rodman could suit up and contribute more than this stiff. Sorry, Bill.
The one move Mitch Kupchak should consider is bringing in a bench shooter like Michael Redd, Daniel Gibson or even Rip Hamilton. Money is no object to Jerry Buss and any one of those guys would provide instant offense and a charge to a lethargic defending champ. Nobody wants to help the Lakers, Redd has been hurt and Gibson erratic, but either one would be a key addition.
The best move would be Hamilton. He's a pro, he's angry at being benched and Detroit is not only going nowhere fast but looking to unload fat salary. Detroit needs bigs or picks or cash, given its ownership status, and Rip would instantly energize LA, quickly adapt to the system, and has a ring on his resume. Certainly worth cash, a No. 1 pick in a potential lockout year and even a throw-in like Caracter who might actually contribute in Detroit.
Still a long way to go, but at this point the Lakers need some jet fuel and Hamilton would provide that in spades.