After scoring 39 points in game 1, it's
clear that Lebron wasn't the only one who
learned something from Kobe last summer.
I checked in with The Hypeman (Happy birthday) before game 1 of the Western Conference Finals for our usual state of the union. Surprisingly, we were both a bit tempered in our excitement for this series. A lot of that has to do with the bitter taste still lining the walls of my mouth from the last series. But, didn't the Lakers
blew blow the Rockets out in game 7? They sure did, but they also only showed up for every other game. The Rockets were tough. They deserve a great deal of credit, but the Lakers clearly proved that when they had to win, they did; but only when they had to. It made it morally difficult to get excited about a team that only chooses to play when it suits them or their backs are up against the wall. That makes it hard to invest emotionally into another series where the Lakers may or may not play defense, may or may not play hard, may or may not care.
The Hypeman shares the same sentiments. He actually wants to see the Lakers lose a close game, but go down swinging till the very end. I'd prefer a game where the Lakers play the same way from tip off to the final buzzer...and win. That's what the Lakers gave us with a tough game 1 victory last night...finally.
After a six day layoff, Denver showed no signs of rust, jumping out to a 13 point lead in the first quarter. Unlike the last series, the Lakers actually took it on the chin and played through their shooting woes, lack of any type of offensive movement and defensive deficiencies to tie the game up by halftime. Denver led for most of the second half until Kobe went into Mamba mode, Fisher rejoined the NBA, Ariza illegally used a trampoline to steal an inbound pass and Denver, true to form, buckled under the pressure.
This is the game I've been waiting for. Win or lose, the Lakers played a gritty 60 minutes of basketball. They still have problems on defense, Pau still doesn't show up for all four quarters and they shoot way too many jumpers and 3's, which will cost them at least one game in Denver, but they won. Even a potentially career changing game from Melo wasn’t enough to steal game 1.
Game 2 is Thursday. Everyone expects the Lakers to have a let down. If anyone wearing a purple and gold jersey last night is reading this, prove them wrong. Not out of hate or spite or arrogance, but out of pride.