Ted Green: Lakers are beat up and weary
I’m not saying Oklahoma City is deep enough or experienced enough to beat the Lakers four out of the next five, even with Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and whoever that Hakeem Alonzo Manute Eaton Ibaka guy is who was throwing everything out of there in the middle. But if that looked anything at all like the fast, fluid, dynastic-looking Laker team that won the 2009 title less than 12 months ago, we’d all better get our eyes checked.
Two words come immediately to mind: old and weary.
A third word, this one hyphenated: beat-up.
Even at home in Staples Center, and even with Kobe Bryant willing his broken body to a fairly incredible 39 points, the Lakers were no match athletically for the young OKC thoroughbreds who blocked 17 of their shots.
The difference in athleticism between the Thunder and Lakers actually shocked me. I wonder if it shook up the Lakers too?
Seventeen blocks? Usually one must flirt in high school to experience that much rejection.
Block party? I haven’t seen that kind of blocking since John McKay’s USC teams were running Student Body Left for O.J. Simpson.
Now my great friend Harry, a Laker fan to the very end, points out that the mighty (and fully healthy) best-in-the-NBA Cavaliers had two similar struggles at home in Cleveland against the pedestrian 8-seed in the East, the Chicago Bulls. Harry says the Bulls are nowhere near as good or talented as OKC and he’s right. So Harry says: Stop making such a fuss over two narrow, nervous Laker home wins. They won, didn’t they?
Yeah, they did.
But fess up, Laker fans, you can easily see them getting hit by Thunder and lightning in the next two in Okie City, can’t you?
And finally this: I predicted a Laker title after the ’09 winter roadie when they ran the table in six cities. It wasn’t especially brilliant. You could feel their championship vibe. But right now you’d have to be a borderline whack job to predict a re-peat today.
And unless Ron Artest and Derek Fisher start shooting their threes toward a ZIP code that starts with a “9” or 731-something in the case of Okie City, hitting some triples, and until Lamar Odom snaps out of his latest Khloe coma, I don’t see the Lakers winning 14 more games playing the way they are, in the physical shape they’re in.
Be honest: Do you?
-- Ted Green
Green, enior sports producer for KTLA Prime News, formerly covered the Lakers for the L.A. Times.
Photo: Lakers guard Kobe Bryant, left, tries to get off a shot past Oklahoma City's Serge Ibaka, top, and Thabo Sefolosha during the first half of Game 2 of the Western Conference quarterfinals on Tuesday. Credit: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times