How bout’ them Lakers? How bout’ not.

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here's the hype (image SI)

Here’s the hype (image SI)

The Lakers have a losing record. Let me say that to you again. The Lakers have a losing record. At the beginning of the season, it was the dream team. You couldn’t beat them. They had superstars, and they were not going to be touched. Turns out they were half right, as it turns out, another LA team rules now.

The Clippers. Lob City. They’ve beaten the Lakers twice now. Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, Caron Butler, Willie Green and DeAndre Jordan are the starting lineup that lead LA to this 27-8 record and a 17 game winning streak.

Do you remember in 2010, when the Cowboys were failing, and everyone was going: How bout them cowboys? And everyone else was going: How bout not? I feel the same way here too. We get it. The Lakers stink now. But we don’t need to see it on the front of ESPN every time Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard get hurt.

 

But for a Lakers fan, the worst part of this is Kobe Bryant. He has completely turned his back on the team, shown no respect at all, and the criticizations of  the Lakers as “An old team – we’re slow as s—” were just a few of his many rants this year, along with “Sticks in the mud” – and telling his fans to “Shut up.” and that they were “Stupid”. Also, he said one of his former teammates shouldn’t have played in the NBA, and they were too cheap to spring for a point guard.

This isn’t the superstar kids are supposed to look up to, the one who criticizes his coach, his former teammates and his team. He said he was “Trying to push the right buttons” to light a fire under his team, and didn’t care about being perceived as the villain.

Which, in my opinion came out simply as “I’d rather be known as a winner instead of a good teammate.”

And then we have the coaching. The Lakers fired Brown early in the season. The team has gotten better. But according to the players and Kobe, the type of coach they wanted was like the interim coach they had – apparently, Kobe Bryant, seeming better

Here's now. (Getty Images, AP Photo)

Here’s now. (Getty Images, AP Photo)

In other words, it means that Brown was overcoaching, and the Lakers just wanted to let the players play.

So why do we care anymore? It’s all happened. We all know the Lakers are bad. Picking up Howard was a terrible move, and Gasol can’t stop getting hurt. It’s done.

This is why Lob City rules now. They have young talent that doesn’t talk back. They have a coach who coaches the right way, and not a superteam, just a team that works together.

When will people learn that putting talent together doesn’t make a team? Maybe never, seeming that it just keeps on happening, and teams aren’t winning championships, and some aren’t making playoff appearances. Take the Angels, Dodgers, Red Sox, Cowboys, Eagles and many more.

So can we please end the conversation with this sentence?

The old king is dead, long live the Clippers.

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The NBA: Upside down

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Your best records in the NBA, 33% done with the regular season in the eastern conference are…. crazy.

Look at that! Miami was predictable, but NY, Atlanta, Indiana and Milwaukee? Wow. The west seems to be going a little more to plan, looking at it, but still – Clippers, Grizzlies, Warriors, Rockets, and no sign of the Lakers anywhere? Geez.

So, how did this happen exactly? I’ll give you one word: Bench. In this era, we have been introduced to the, quote on quote, “Superteam”. A big three here, a big four there, a super coach here, a ton of money there – you get the point. But let’s look at the Clippers players – almost all of them average 10 points or more for every three quarters they play. For the knicks, every player but three has 9 points or more in that time. The Warriors have only 4 that aren’t scoring 11 or more in that time period – I could go on with this forever. (NOTE: I use this statistic because it can range over an amount of games, not just one, unlike PPG)

This season is proving a point I’ve been trying to back up for a while now – a team isn’t a superstar and his supporting cast, everyone has to be there. For instance, when LeBron left, The Cavs gave up 105 points a game and scored 95 – as opposed to it pretty much being vice-versa last year. LeBron had 2,200+ points – nobody came within 1,000 of him. Next year? The top scorer only had 1,100 points. That’s what killed the Cavs – their team was built on LeBron. When the Heat made the finals and lost, it was because only 4 players scored triple digits during the playoffs – the next year, they had 7.

While Blake Griffin and CP3 are a big, if not the biggest parts of the Clippers, the bench takes off the pressure, giving them easy wins almost every time. It’s a new philosophy for winning, which I love, and if you’re not a Heat fan, you probably enjoy this too.

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NBA Preview!!!

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I know I’m pretty darn late to the party. This one has been in the works for a while, and only now have I really just gotten around to finishing it. But no more procrastination! So, without any further ado………. my NBA Preview.

EASTERN CONFERENCE:

1. Miami Heat. I hate to say this, I really, really, really, really hate to. But unfortunately, they forced me. Unfortunately for the rest of the world, this team is (A) Pretty good, (B) Playing with a swagger that’s just hard to describe, and (C) finally finding talent that doesn’t involve LBJ, DW or CB.

2.  Chicago Bulls. The only reason they should be number 2 instead of 1 is simple. No Rose. While they will still be good, the Bulls are Defined by D-Rose. Without him, they’re good. With him – they can be unstoppable.

3. Boston Celtics. Remember when I said 2011 is the last year for Garnett and Pierce? I was wrong. But now, this is Rondo’s team. So expect another few years out of this lineup before it’s back to square one.

4. New York Knicks. I really don’t feel confident in this prediction. But if everything goes decently well for the Knicks, then they’ll have the 4 seed taken just because of the talent they can produce. Not saying they will, but it’s very possible.

5. Brooklyn Nets. I feel a bit more confident on this one. With the new image, new players and a new chance, I feel good about the Nets. They have a decent bench and a great starting lineup.

6. Philadelphia 76ers. You know the name, Seventy Sixers? I feel like they’ve been hovering in this area for a bit – now they take a step up. Next year, maybe they’ll get rid of the name, change to the Fifty Fourers.

7. Cleveland Cavaliers. Kyrie Irving looks poised to make a sophomore stretch, and become one of the elite point guards in the game. Next year, this team will be ready for prime-time.

8. Atlanta Hawks. This team is getting older, but I still think they’re playoff caliber. They can play with the big boys, but it could be hard in the division owned by the Heat.

EASTERN PLAYOFFS.

Heat Over Hawks, In 6

Bulls Over Cavs, In 7

76ers Over Celtics, in 5

Nets Over Knicks, in 7

 

76ers Over Heat, in 7

Bulls Over Nets, in 6

 

Bulls Over 76ers, in 5

 

WESTERN CONFERENCE 

1. Thunder. With the playoff experience checkmark off the list, the only thing standing between them and this spot is their ego. Keep it low, and Aloha, Number one seed.

2. Clippers. Also mark the playoff experience checkmark off. But this will be more than a checkmark season. This season will be the second breakout. Get ready, because LA has a new king.

3. San Antonio Spurs. Seriously. When will they go away?

4. Lakers. It’s not going to be the same. They’re on the way out, and don’t be surprised if they finish lower than this. Kobe, Meta, Gasol and Howard are getting older and more prone to injuries. Sorry LA – there’s a new King here.

5. Houston Rockets. With the addition of Harden and Lin, this team is going to be offense heavy. And while the lack of defense might be scary for Rockets fans, the offense will be enough to propel them to the number five spot.

6. Denver Nuggets. It’s a new look for them, and it’s looking good. Don’t expect a miracle season, but definitely a good one.

7. Memphis Grizzlies. One spot up from last year, they look ready – and they will be. Returning veterans are everything here, and they want to give Memphis a long journey through the playoffs, and look poised to take the first step.

8. Mavericks. One last time for them. Nowitzki is past his prime. Terry waved goodbye, and the Mavericks might be doing the same with the playoffs for a while starting next year.

PLAYOFFS

Thunder Over Mavericks, in 5

Clippers Over Grizzlies, in 7

Nuggets Over Spurs, in 7

Rockets Over Lakers, in 6

 

Thunder Over Nuggets, in 6

Clippers Over Rockets, in 5

 

Thunder Over Clippers, in 7
Which brings us to the NBA Finals. And I predict the team that will hoist the Larry O’ Brien Trophy, in 7 games, with the MVP Kevin Durant, will be the Oklahoma City Thunder, bringing a championship to the franchise for the first time since the seventies.

 

Is it over for the Lakers?

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The Lakers are in a tough situation right now. Kobe Bryant is the face of a renowned franchise, and yet struggling. His criticism of the Lakers front office and the players could land him in a spot where he doesn’t want to be. And while we all think the Lakers are the greatest, they would actually barely be the number 6 seed in the playoffs on this day.

Now, to all my friends in Los Angeles (which I’ll admit there are few), I’m not trying to say the Lakers stink, and they don’t. But, they need to do a couple things here, like get points from other sources aside from Gasol and Bryant.

Let’s take a little pressure off of Kobe here, okay? In case you noticed, he isn’t bad – in fact, he’s the only player on the team that is in the twenties for scoring. And Pau, for a center is playing pretty darn well. But, after Steve Blake, everybody else is below 5.5 points a game.

Getting a little more out of everyone else could keep Kobe and Pau in the place they want to be – Los Angeles. But can they? Well, we’ll know as soon as the trade deadline approches if Pau Gasol will stay a Laker, or wear another uniform, which will greatly effect Kobe. And we wait another day.

It’s time to think about the Thunder

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Last night, Kevin Durant and Russel Westbrook combined for 91 points. I don’t know what catchy catchphrase I can use for that. Alright, I’ll just say this – they lead the Thunder to a 124- 118 win.

Now, let’s be honest – we kind of forgot about the Thunder. There was Linsanity, the Bulls, the Heat, the Knicks, the Clippers and the Wizards (just kidding about that last one), and they have all gotten our undivided attention this year.

But, now we see the Thunder again. And while I’m pretty sure they aren’t going to be putting on those performances all season long, I have a feeling they could go all the way.

If a few guys can step up, they would be able to take a little pressure off of Westbrook and Durant, resulting in a more balanced game, which puts them in contention for the Larry O’ Brien trophy.

I’m not saying teams like the Heat, Lakers, Bulls and Clippers won’t get in their way. But, with a little work, these guys could win it all.