Sometimes, the better team just wins
I’m sure there’ll be all kinds of hand-wringing today about what’s wrong with the Lakers and how they can be two games down to the Thunder in their playoff series after losing last night.
They’re not as good.
Sure, they’ve got one great player (the Bryant lad) and a couple of very, very good ones (Gasol and Bynum) but, really, what’s behind that?
Point guards who are average at best, a dreadful bench that has little or no consistency, they aren’t athletic and they don’t really have the ability to play fast.
The Thunder, on the other hand, has advantages almost everywhere on the court. They are as a big and far tougher with Ibaka and Perkins, they are vastly more athletic, they shoot it better, they’re deeper and, after last year’s disappointing end to the playoffs, they are hungry and experienced.
They finished last night with a flourish, scoring the last nine points of a 77-75 win while Bryant kicked the ball all over the floor and the Lakers got a possible game-winning shot from Steve Blake – STEVE BLAKE!!!! – during what was as big a cough-up as anything we’ve seen in the post-season so far.
No, there seems to be nothing really “wrong” with the Lakers, they just aren’t good enough. Now, we know Bryant has the ability to go all other-worldly and win a game on his own and there’s a chance Bynum and Gasol both play well on the same night and maybe the Lakers get a game once the series gets back home.
But when they put the lid on this series, it’s going to be about how good the Thunder is and not how bad the Lakers were. The best teams tend to win these things – the other guys might steal a game, maybe two – and the best team would seem to be Oklahoma City.
And that’s going to set up what could be an epic Western Conference final after the San Antonio Spurs coast through the Clippers.
At that point, we can do the hand-wringing about what’s wrong with the Lakers; for now we should be thinking about what’s good about the Thunder, they’re the best team and the better story in this series.
Why am I looking at a headline that says “Gas prices likely to hold steady this summer” and knowing that means somewhere near $1.30 a litre instead of spiking to $1.40 and thinking “oh, that’s good news?”
No, I didn’t see any of the game – forgot to watch on the computer in my late-night daze watching NBA games – but the national women’s team beating China last night out in Langley, B.C. has to be a bit heartening.
Anyone see it? Fill us in?
China, which has already qualified for the Olympics and finished fourth in Beijing, is a pretty good measuring stick for the Canadian women and a win is far better than the alternative.
Now, I’ve been around long enough to know that one exhibition game result means nothing – especially one played at home – but, I’m telling you, I like this team and am very anxious to see how it does at the final Olympic qualifying tournament in Turkey in late June.
They shuffled some seats around the big kids table at the NBA yesterday, replacing the old “competition committee” – which comprised 30 GMs and which was responsible for proposing rule changes – and going with a hybrid committee that includes four GMs, three coaches, two owners and a player.
(Yes, Bryan made the cut; he’s one of the GMs, no one from any of the profit-driven media giants who are taking over production of “programming this summer were asked to be on the committee)
Now, the numbers are still there so that the people who actually know what’s going on with the game on the court (the GMs, the coaches, the player) can carry the day on any proposals so I guess that’s good.
But the first – the very first – thing they have to do when they first meet is deal with the flopping issue and I sure hope they can.
So, Hobbs gets four games – sounds about right to me – but keeps playing during the period leading up to his inevitable appeal and something sticks in my craw about the whole baseball discipline system.
Having a suspended player being pretty much able to pick and choose what games he sits outs would seem to run counter to the discipline process. I understand due process and all that junk but why let everyone appeal in every case? Why not only let appeals come on significant suspensions – say, 10 games or so – other than that, let it be routine league-enforced discipline.
If you want to massage the appeal process and pick your time to sit out, taking into account the schedule, the opponent, the pitching matchups or whatever, go ahead, it’s your collectively bargained right.
But if you lose, you get another game or two.
You appeal a four-game suspension and you lose, you get five; if you have a six-game suspension and appeal and lose, you sit out eight.
Makes a little bit of sense to me.
I don’t, however, know what to do about pitchers, and here’s the true mess with this whole process.
Philly’s Cole Hamels throws at the kid from Washington, fully admits it and is set down for five “games.”
Well, it’s actually one game, or one start, and that’s hardly what the intent of the ruling was. It doesn’t really disrupt a team’s rotation – one spot start for someone out of the bullpen is not really a big deal – and it doesn’t really disrupt the suspended party, he’ll still throw on the side, get his bullpen sessions in and, once a team reconfigures its rotation, he’ll probably get some much needed rest.
How’s that get fixed?
I don’t know; already solved the position player problem, can’t do it all.
Hey, it’s Opening Night tonight for the urchins.
We’re in tough, moved up an age group so we could keep the same kids together – it’s as much about the social aspect of the game for players and parents as anything – and we have no idea what we’re up against.
We’re in an amalgamation of leagues – tough to find enough mid-teens in one association to have a full house league – so we’re known as the MNBA Red Tigers.
I thought about getting us known as the Crouching Tigers but the league wanted to go with uniform colours rather than esoteric movie names.
So think a good thought for our merry band of baseballers, would you?