You can take the man out of crazy, but
you can't take the crazy out of Ron Artest.
Welcome back to the NBA playoffs Lakers. Soft? Finesse? Scared? These words can no longer be used to describe these Lakers. I went through so many different stages of emotion last night, that I'm not sure how to describe it. I'll break it down by quarter.
Finally! The Lakers put it all together executing as only they can and thoroughly dominating the Rockets. Kobe was electric. Odom and Gasol had their new found two-man game running to perfection. Even Fisher didn't look out of place guarding Aaron Brooks. (Fisher received a first and second place vote for the all defensive team. Phil, you're not fooling anyone.) When everything is clicking, the Lakers are unbeatable. But that's the problem, "when" everything is clicking. Speaking of which...
Anyone else getting déjà vu? Proving that losing game 4 of the 2008 NBA finals to the Celtics after being up 24 points in the second half wasn't enough of a lesson, the Lakers continue to blow huge leads against their opponents. Maybe they're just into the whole S & M thing? You know, self punishment? This quarter was so bad, that Kyle Lowry nearly outscored the entire Laker team by himself. This continues to mystify my logical brain. How can the Lakers be so good for 12 minutes and within the same game, be so bad? Everyone talks about the players’ commitment, but no one ever mentions that attitude starts directly at the top. Phil Jackson and his coaching staff need to shoulder the blame on this one. There's a reason they call him "The Zen Master." Maybe this team doesn't need Zen focus. Maybe they need someone to kick them in the ass, create an extreme sense of urgency and a killer instinct to kick your opponent once they are down. This is not Phil. He's too...well, Zen.
This team is so talented that blowing leads in nearly every game still may not be enough to derail their date with destiny against the Cav’s in the finals. But the Lakers are kidding themselves if they believe that they can continue to blow sizable leads game after game and not suffer the consequences. If the Lakers don't learn their lesson now, they'll have plenty of time to think about it when they're on vacation in a week or so.
And they're back. Schizophrenics think the Lakers are insane. I've given up trying to understand the motivation behind this Laker team. I'm just happy they finally figured out Houston isn't blinded by the purple and gold and are starting to fight…for their right…to parrrrrrrrrrrrty!
Things are getting chippy and I like it. Odom cracks me up. He's the guy that starts the fight in the club, but retreats back to the table where the alcohol and girls are at while his boys finish the fight. And I agree with Mr. Bill Simmons. I’m praying for the day that someone finally punches Sasha in the face. Sasha would cut off his nose just to spite his face...and would do it again and again and again.
Fish, Really? Talk about out of character. Manny Ramirez has a better chance of being caught for steroids than Fisher has of committing such a flagrant foul. Wait, what? Oh. Never mind. I'm actually happy Fish did what he did. The Lakers coasted through last years playoffs and it led them to the beat down of the century in game 6. While Boston faced hurdle after hurdle on their way to a ring. The Lakers have had this aura of entitlement the entire season. Maybe the least likely person to get suspended on the Lakers is exactly what the Lakers need. Maybe, just maybe, it will force this Laker team to treat every game as if it was their last. Maybe.
It's officially a series. Bodies are flying everywhere. I think even Jack Nicholson picked up a technical at some point. And then it happened. You know the old saying...You can take the man out of crazy, but you can't take the crazy out of the man. Wait, that's not a saying? Whatever. Ron Artest is all kinds of crazy. The referees missed an obvious foul on Kobe Bryant and instead called it against Crazy McCrazerstein. Ron Ron raced over to Kobe to give him a piece of his mind and Kobe did his best France impression wanting no part of the skirmish. Artest was T'd up and why no one is talking about what happened next is shocking. Artest made a throat slashing gesture towards Kobe and the refs had seen enough. Moments later, Artest tried to make the case that he was simply re-enacting Kobe's foul. Sure, and he also charged the stands in Indiana to politely convince the good patrons of The Palace of Auburn Hills that he is not appreciative of the alcoholic beverage that befell his person and would encourage them to strike up a friendly conversation if they feel an injustice had been incurred. The Rockets buckled under the pressure and the Lakers sailed to a comfortable win.
There will be no more sleep walking. No easy wins. No coming back from blown leads. No easy baskets. No excuses. And you know what? I’m excited. The Lakers are going to have to earn a trip to the next round, forget about the finals. And that may not be such a bad thing. The Cav's are blowing teams out just like the Lakers did in last years playoffs. Where did that get the Lakers? Nowhere. If there is a silver lining to dropping a game at home and losing Fisher for game 3, it's that the Lakers may finally understand that no one is handing them anything. They’re going to have to take it, just like the rest of the teams left in the playoffs.
If the Lakers are fortunate enough to play for banner number 15, they’ll be better equipped to get up after being knocked down. Alfred says it best to Batman in the Dark Knight…”Why do we fall sir? So we can learn how to get back up.” I just hope the Lakers are Batman, not Houston. We’ll find out Friday night.