Thursday, December 31, 2009

Can The Lakers Maintain This Level Of Complacency?

The Lakers have showed early on this season that their talent level is no fluke. At 25-6, they've got the best record in the league (yes, they've only played 11 road games, but it's still impressive), but, if you ask me, they still haven't completely hit their stride. I'd say their defense is much improved (of course it can get even better yet) compared to this point last year and their offense is very close, but needs to be executed a bit better before the second season begins. While all of that sounds great, I've noticed a real rise in the Lakers complacency of late.

Take their last game against the Warriors for example. Kobe Bryant is a seasoned veteran, a legend, a special player with an amazing basketball IQ. He was frustrated with a non-foul call and got hit with a technical around the two minute mark in the fourth. The game was close at this point and even though the Lakers did pull it out eventually, things like this can't continue. While Kobe does have legit gripes at times, you can see that some of the calls he wants are not true fouls. They're, "I'm Kobe, call that," types of calls. I'm as big a Kobe fan as anybody, but if he wants to truly project maturity and a leadership role, he has to quite down a bit and complain only when it's needed (and in a kinder manner).

This goes for the whole Laker team, not just Kobe. The Lakers are second in the league in technicals with 43. They've played 31 games. That's about 1.4 T's per game. Phil Jackson knows that giving a free point away a game won't make beating the elite any easier. Nothing can be free, nothing can be easy. The Lakers have failed to cool down and let their game control the whistles instead of their mouths. That's not true title winning basketball. That's a factor that the opponents will key in on. They will find ways to irk the Lakers and that will lead to technicals. It must stop.

Since this is the same team that won it all last year (only one real change in Ron Artest), I'm confident that it will. But, one can't help but get mad that you've given up 43 possible free points. The goal is to give up nothing for free. Now the Lakers must set goals in order to make everything tough. Scoring needs to be as expensive as living in a five-star hotel all year, not a visit to Family Dollar. Got it, Lakers?

Photo by: Stephen Dunn/Getty Images, from ESPN