The Los Angeles Lakers take out their arch-nemesis, the Portland Trailblazers in the confines of The Staples Center 103-92 on President’s Day. Monday’s night victory was a good way to bounce from a terrible outing in Phoenix on Sunday.
The Black Mamba, as always, led the way with 28 points, while Andrew Bynum had 14 points to go along with a monstrous 19 rebounds. The man of the hour, Pau Gasol finished the night with a solid double-double of 16 points and 12 rebounds. The surprise of the evening was Steve Blake’s 17 points off the bench, as he went 5-6 from behind the three-point line. It appears Blake is starting to somewhat round in to form after coming back from his injury.
The Lakeshow have appeared to compartmentalize the recent surge of trade rumors regarding Gasol, as they’ve won 4 of their last 5 games. The interesting thing about this hot bed topic, is that it has existed since training camp. He’s handled it like the consummate pro, but how long can he be the bigger person? Meaning how long will it be before he personally asks general manager, Mitch Kupchak, to be traded rather than have his Lakers status remaining in limbo?
When Gasol plays good, everyone from the media and fans rave about his polished skills at the power forward position and wonder why the Lakers are thinking about trading him. When he has a sub par game, the media pundits and overly-emotional fans believe “Pau must go”. Sometimes I can’t seem to wrap my brain around Gasol’s roller coaster-like performances (even though I know it largely has to do with the trade rumors), because that ”high level of play” he use to play at has been inconsistent since the end of last season. Bottom line, he’s a rare talent, and if he’s not getting traded for another all-star, I wouldn’t pull the trigger on any deal.
Now on a side-note, am I the only one who is tired of Kupchak’s cliche-like press release statements? I know Kupchak has a job to do, but I’ve never seen a GM play two key pieces of their past championship teams like expendable pieces in such a cold-hearted manner (the other being Lamar Odom). I know being a GM is a tough, complex job, but his demeanor shows you the kind of loyalty (or lack their of) that will forever remain in the NBA if you’re not the franchise player.
Even though the recent Gasol hoopla is mainly media generated, and Kobe was strategically set up when he was asked Gasol-related questions after a horrible loss to Phoenix, the Black Mamba is right, Kupchak has to address the issue ASAP one way or another, as the trade deadline looms right around the corner.
The Lakeshow will head into All-Star break, with two big road tests, as they take on the defending champs, the Dallas Mavericks (and their old buddy Odom) on Wednesday, and then take on an up-tempo Oklahoma City Thunder team on Thursday. Both of the teams are favored to come out of the Western Conference to compete for an NBA title ahead of the Lakers at this point in the season. These two games will be a challenge, and beating these two teams as they enter the break could possibly restore some of that “championship-like swagger.”
But hold up, I just remembered they’re on the road, so Laker Nation can prepare for two outcomes; hope this squad surprises you with two big road wins, or settle for a possible split. Ummmm….yeah, good luck with that.
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Written by Arthur Kai