All things considered, Lakers are in great shape
As the man who jumped off the 20-story building was heard to note as he passed each floor:
“So far, so good.”
By now, Lakerdom should be aware anything is possible this postseason, from a sublime second title in a row to a sudden disappearance at the hands of some former punching bag.
Nevertheless, given the Lakers’ condition three weeks ago with Kobe Bryant and Andrew Bynum rejoining the team that finished 2-6, a three-day break in the second round with a 2-0 lead over Utah is like paradise revisited.
A win in Salt Lake City this weekend would put them in position to end it in five, which would mean more days off if the Suns and Spurs go longer.
Of course, the Lakers were hoping they’d have no more injuries, as opposed to learning Bynum has a partially torn meniscus in his knee.
On the bright side for them, Andrew’s still upright!
To understand how well this has gone, you have to remember where they came from. Assuming many of you blocked the memories, here’s a recap:
March 19 — Lakers win fifth in a row but lose Bynum, who strains an Achilles’ tendon.
Coach Phil Jackson says Andrew “probably will miss a little time.”
In Phil-speak, that means weeks, but everyone is thinking two or, at worst, three weeks.
It turns out to be a month, right up to the April 18 playoff opener.
March 24-31 — Lakers go East on a five-game trip. An ever-more alarmed Jackson, who usually lowballs expectations, says he’d like to go 5-0.
They go 2-3 amid reports that Jackson and/or Bryant, who has steadfastly put off signing his extension, may leave.
April 2 — Bryant signs a three-year extension, saying he’s a Laker for life.
GM Mitch Kupchak says the deal was done two weeks before, and agreed to two months before that.
The Lakers beat the Jazz in Staples Center, seeming to end the crisis atmosphere that prompted owner Jerry Buss to make a rare visit to practice and daughter Jeanie to plead for calm on talk radio.
April 4 — The Spurs smoke the Lakers in Staples, 100-81, as Manu Ginobili outscores Bryant, 32-22.
The Lakers subsequently announce that Kobe, shooting 13 for 36 over two games, will sit out with a sore knee.
April 11 — The Lakers fall to Portland, 91-88, in Staples as Bryant goes eight for 23 from the field in his return and bricks two free throws off the front rim with a chance to put the Lakers ahead in the closing seconds. Derek Fisher, fouled on the rebound, makes one of two, tying the score … before swiping at Martell Webster going up for a three-pointer, putting Webster on the line to make the winning free throws.
Bryant says he’ll play the last two games of the season, to get his rhythm back
April 12 — The Lakers say Bryant will sit out the last two games to rest his broken finger.
In retrospect, anyone believe he wasn’t really resting his sore knee?
April 24 — With no Laker having mentioned Bryant’s knee other than in passing, Kobe takes 10 shots in the Thunder’s Game 4 110-89 rout and is accused of pouting.
The Lakers are 4-0 since, with Bryant averaging 36 minutes, 27 points and 5.5 assists, shooting 51%.
In more good news for the Lakers, not even they could nod off now, I don’t think.
Last spring’s second-round pratfall came at this very point, on the first trip to Houston.
That Lakers team had better health and shooting but fatter heads, or as Trevor Ariza said after the Rockets finally fell in seven games, “We thought we could win on pure talent.”
Now there’s no getting around all the things that can go wrong at any moment. As Elizabeth Barrett Browning put it, “Let me count the ways.”
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