I had every intention of writing something before the first round ended and certainly before the second one began. I ruminated about Kobe’s thunder-dunk against New Orleans, the surprising end of the Spurs’ season and the Grizzlies’ continuing success in the first game against OKC. And then the news of bin Laden, thoughts of writing derailed as images washed and words were said and people gathered in the streets. Our world is shape-shifting ever faster and I can’t find the gray-scale anymore.
Monday night, the first game in the Bulls/Hawks series and nothing surprises now. Atlanta won in Chicago against the league’s best record. To make matters worse, Derrick Rose rolled an ankle in the last second of a game that was out of reach. The basketball universe was continuing out of alignment, the night was cold and drizzling and order needed to be restored.
Late in the 2nd quarter of the L.A./Dallas opener, things started getting a little chippy and the Lakers made a nice run, capped off with Odom's heave from 3/4 court and he’s fouled and it’s actually called. These circus shots are usually closer to half-time entertainment than an actual game but it made me laugh out loud - free throws followed by a technical against Dirk and Mark Cuban was close to stroking out in the stands.
The 3rd period continued in promising fashion, Kobe finding his mark from outside and the building of a 16-point lead. I’d started playing around with a post, imagining something about the transcendent roar of victory. My last couple of pieces had spoken of finality and age and I didn’t want to write about the end anymore.
And then it started going away. Like it does sometimes. Hello darkness, my old friend. I turned off the TV after the loss, wiped away the page I’d been working on and went to bed.
This is who the Lakers are at this point of their storied history - brilliance coupled with a defiant abandonment of principals. The spacing and inside game works, everybody knows. The sly misdirection of Pau and Bynum’s two-man game was beautiful until forgotten. I don't want to foist the loss off on jacked-up jumpers. It’s Kobe’s brilliance, his ability to so instantly morph that causes fits for the opposition. And yet he’s too good for his own good sometimes.
Everybody knows that the dice are loaded, everybody rolls with their fingers crossed.
This team tends to reset in unpredictable ways. There’s trends in the league and there’s the Lakers. And when it comes down to it, nobody knows. Their switch is more like attention deficit disorder. They can knock you out and they can be distracted by the kiss-cam overhead. My best guess is that they’ll bomb through a lot more peaks and valleys and probably win it all before the seals blow out completely but who knows.
It’s easy to use wordplay to dismiss a team or a challenge. The simple truth? Dallas is an experienced team with quality players and a quality coach. They had the same number of wins as we had and they’ve got more size than most people realize. Chucking our game plan out the window is not the most obvious recipe for success.
Once again, it's much too late. This piece has been worried at like a bone, has come periously close to finding the dumper, like others before it. The next game looms and if there's been a stranger season in recent history, I don't remember it.