Question of the Day: Are the Lakers peaking too soon? [Updated]
Writers from around Tribune Co. weigh in on the Lakers, who have won 15 of their last 16 games. Check back throughout the day for more responses, vote in the poll and feel free to leave a comment of your own.
Ira Winderman, South Florida Sun-Sentinel
The notion of peaking "too early" is absurd.
Last time I checked, it wasn't as if Kobe was playing 48 minutes or Phil even was making him practice.
And it’s not as if the Lakers didn't have their uneven moments earlier that provided vital lessons.
While the Lakers and Celtics came off uneven finishes to the 2009-10 regular season to make it to the 2010 NBA Finals, it does not make it the preferred path.
Since when is having your house in order a bad thing?
The greater concern is when a team has to fight to the very last week, as the Bulls, Celtics and Heat do at the top of the Eastern Conference. That's when a coach might ask too much, push an ailing player too far.
Winning is a good habit. There is nothing wrong with such repetition.
Somehow, we figure the Celtics envy where the Lakers stand and aren't thinking, "Boy, all that winning is gonna ruin those guys."
[Updated at 1:14 p.m.:
Barry Stavro, Los Angeles Times
The Lakers won Game 7 in the Finals last June because they had home court and weren't playing in Boston.
Since the All-Star break, Phil Jackson has sprinkled his magic pixie dust and whammo, the Lakers are 15-1 and still have a faint chance to catch the San Antonio Spurs for the best regular-season record.
Meanwhile, other title contenders have been fading. Check out their second-half records: Bulls 15-4, Mavericks 12-5, Spurs 11-7, Heat 10-7 and Celtics 11-8.
Granted, you still have to win 16 playoff games in the spring to get a ring. But it's easier to do it with home court on your side. Advantage Phil and Kobe.
Zach McCann, Orlando Sentinel
Peaking too early?
It's almost April. When, exactly, would you like the Los Angeles Lakers to peak?
Remember when the Lakers went 8-8 over a 16-game stretch back in November and December? Winning back then would have been peaking too early.
Instead, the Lakers felt out the first half of the season, remained healthy and felt confident they would return to the elite level they played at when they won championships in each of the last two seasons.
The timing couldn't be better, as they've now won 15 of 16 games and are playing at an NBA Finals level heading into April.
Especially with a team like the Lakers, which is filled with veterans who have won titles in the past, performance in the regular season isn't as important as figuring out how to win in the playoffs.
The Lakers know how to win in the playoffs, and there's nothing wrong with peaking in late March.
K.C. Johnson, Chicago Tribune
The Lakers absolutely are not peaking too soon. More than any team in the league, the Lakers know when to hit the gas pedal and when to coast. They peak when Phil and Kobe says it's time to peak. And with several misinformed league observers writing their obituary during a recent stretch of hiccups near the All-Star break, Kobe and Co. decided enough is enough.
For years, way back to his days coaching Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen, Phil Jackson's style has been to build to the playoffs. The Lakers are building. They're winning games with defense and rebounding and timely scoring. Not surprisingly, those are the same ingredients needed to win championships. Phil and Kobe know a little something about those.
So what if they've lost just once since the All-Star break? Kobe creates his own motivations. So that first playoff loss -- whenever it comes -- will drive him again, right back to a Western Conference championship and a berth in the NBA Finals.]
Photo: Kobe Bryant and Shannon Brown. Credit: Gary A. Vasquez / US Presswire