Obivously, it’s been a few good weeks for the Lakers, including a fairly epic victory over Phoenix a couple of nights ago. Marc Stein suggests that they might now be the top-seeded team in the West, which is saying a lot.
I certainly hope so. But I can’t help thinking that this all could come crashing down at any minute. Pau Gasol has a chronically bad back, which go out on him at any time, and at least could severely affect the mobility that makes him so dangerous. That Kobe Bryant has been shooting so well with a torn ligament on his shooting hand speaks volumes about his competitiveness, but it also means that it is a tempting target for opposition defenders. And who knows when Andrew Bynum will be back at full strength.
Even more disquieting is the fact that Phil Jackson seems content to ride Bryant with too many minutes. Check it out: Kobe has been averaging nearly 40 minutes a game (42 last night in a near-blowout against the Clips). Without what was essentially a night off against Atlanta a few days ago, the totals would go even higher. Kobe is the most competitive player since Jordan (if not his equal in that department) and he is in superb shape, but this is a recipe for him to break down.
Tonight, the Lake Show goes to Seattle on yet another back-to-back. They should win. But these minutes, plus the nagging injuries, are going to take their toll.