And the Laker season starts with a bang a 114-106 victory over the Phoenix Suns. Even without Kobe (or possibly without Kobe), the defense was solid and the ball movement was crisp, especially in the 2nd half. Lamar took the team on his shoulders and flat out led them. The offense was running entirely through his hands. It'll be interesting to see how much of that control he'll keep once Kobe returns.
What I liked last night
- Odom's outside shot. Lamar was 3-4 from beyond the arc, which is quite promising. He's always been able to exploit his size/speed combo by posting smaller guys or driving past big guys. He improved his 3-point shot last season and if it takes that one more step, Odom should be a no-question all-star.
- Mo Evans. This guy is a tough mo'fo. He's strong enough to back down SGs and quick/strong enough to guard a big 1, a 2 or a 3. The Lakers have historically had a tough time with post-up guards like Bonzi Wells and I think Evans is a guy who'll be able to contain him.
- Andrew Bynum. What's not to love? The 2nd year guy showed a nice offensive touch around the basket, pretty good hands and a knack for rebounding. His most impressive attribute, however, was his ability to pass out of the double-team. This is generally a very tough skill for big men to learn and it seems to come naturally to him. He finished with 5 assists and only 1 turnover.
- Jordan Farmar. He came in as a spark off the bench and instantly raised the energy level. He has the quickness and defensive vision to slow down opposing quick guards (another continual Laker problem).
- Ronnie Turiaf's playing time. C'mon Phil, only 3 minutes? Get this man on the floor.
On the BRS sports blog, I predicted that the Lakers wouldn't make the playoffs. I'm still not certain, but it seems (albeit after only one game) that all of the young guys have made huge strides. If Phil can keep a nice balance and rhythym to the team once Kobe returns, this is going to be a fun team to watch that again will end up in the 6-10 range of teams in the West, but could make a lot of noise if it gets into the playoffs.