Weekly NBA Rundown: January 13th – January 19th

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January 23, 2013 10:30 AM by Dick Pepperfield

Lakers Problems
What the fuck is going on with the Lakers? Yes, ESPN is outcovering the SHIT out of them right now (who did Kobe stare at during that last timeout!?) so feel free to glaze over this if you’ve watched Sportcenter anytime in the last three weeks.I don’t think it’s that complicated. Even great players take time to mesh. Remember the Heat when they first came together? Eric Spoelstra was on the hot seat, just about anyone not named LeBron James was being discussed in trade rumors, and fair weather fans across the country were checking the return policy on their Heat jerseys. But they eventually learned how to play off of each other and you know the rest.I mean think about it, all 4 stars have been healthy for about a quarter of the season (if that). They’ve already had two head coaches with two very different coaching styles, and Nash and Howard haven’t played with a remotely talented teammate in about 4 years. So it’s not “lets blow the team up” type panic. Yes, 3 of the 4 are on the wrong side of 30, their styles aren’t exactly complementary, and their transition D is about reliable as an internet girlfriend.

But there is just too much talent to not put it together. First, Pau coming off the bench might be the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard. Earl Clark? Earl fucking Clark starting over Pau Gasol? Insane.  Second, how would a high-low offense through Howard with a cutting Kobe and Nash/Artest (I’m refusing to acknowledge that ridiculous fucking name) spreading the floor not work? I’m not saying they’ll be crowned champions come June, but at the very least I think they’ll sneak in as a 7 or 8 and make life very difficult for a top-seed. Unless of course teams keep fouling Dwight down the stretch and this keeps happening:

Lines of the week:

Kevin Durant @ DAL: 52 points (21-21 FT), 9 rebounds, 2 steals, W

Dwight Howard vs. MIL: 31 points (14-18 FG), 16 rebounds, 4 blocks, W

LeBron James @ LAL: 39 points (17-25 FG), 7 rebounds, 8 assists, 3 steals, W

Coach of the year race:

I always find the coach of the year race to be interesting. Mostly because it seems to have less to do with actual team performance and more to do with out performing expectations. So while you’d think the front runners would be a Scott Brooks or Erik Spolestra, the reality is both of these teams were supposed to be this good and have rosters full of talent. Instead, at mid-season the coaches who are in discussion for coach of the year are middle-to-top tier teams who are over performing. Mark Jackson, Larry Drew, and Mike Woodson have all been discussed but after all three teams have started slipping, I think as it stands it’s a three man race between Tom Thibodeau, Gregg Popovich, and Vinny Del Negro.

What the Bulls have been able to do without a top-3 player/MVP PG is nothing short of amazing. If they can keep it up without Deng it’s Thibodeau’s award to lose. Popovich is taking an extremely aged roster and keeping up with the young Western rivals. It’s no secret he’s not a darling with the media, but if they can finish with the 1st or 2nd seed I can also see him winning. Vinny Del Negro has found an amazing rotation in LA with great roles carved out by a number of bench players. Ultimately, I don’t think he’ll get enough credit due to the talent on the roster and come up just short.

MVP Race:

Still Durant vs. LeBron. If you try and tell me there is a third candidate right now I will laugh in your face immediately before giving you an atomic wedgie. Internet threats! Yeah!

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