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Lakers, Spurs losses shouldn’t have fans nervous. Yet.

Apr 18, 2011, 2:11 AM EDT

New Orleans Hornets Chris Paul drives through the defense of Los Angeles Lakers Derek Fisher and Lamar Odom during Game 1 of their NBA Western Conference first round playoff basketball game in Los Angeles Reuters

This is not a changing of the guard in the West.

Not yet.

The day is coming when Oklahoma City and maybe New Orleans or Memphis are going to be whooping the Lakers and Spurs in the playoffs and it will not be an upset. There will be a passing torch (or more likely, the ripping of the torch out of Kobe Bryant’s hands, he’s not giving it up willingly).

But don’t read that into the Lakers and Spurs dropping their games Sunday.

The Lakers and Spurs had bad days (for different reasons) and while they may both have a tougher series than expected one game is not a huge signal.

What we really saw is that in the West, the bottom half teams are still very good, and fully capable of beating the elites when the elites are not at their peak. But we’re a ways from saying the Spurs and Lakers are not the teams to beat.

For the Lakers, their pick-and-roll defense was terrible and Chris Paul was brilliant in making them pay for it. Derek Fisher cannot guard Paul. But what Paul did brilliantly was come off the pick and when Laker big man Andrew Bynum or Pau Gasol showed out on him, he kept is dribble going and moved away from the pick, dragging the big man with him and forcing a switch. All the while Paul never gave up his dribble. It was a master tactical move and the result was Paul isolated on Bynum or Gasol a lot. And he abused them.

Hence, the three New Orleans turnovers total in the game.

It was defense that sparked the Lakers hot streak after the All-Star break, and they are a team that often does not play well if they don’t respect their opponents. And for all the lip service they gave to how good they thought the Hornets were, they did not go out and play like it. They went through the motions. It’s why the Hornets shot 59 percent on shots inside of 10 feet in the game.

This is what we have seen from these Lakers before. They eventually do show up and play hard. Expect a different defensive effort on Wednesday night.

As for the Spurs, you see just how much Manu Ginobili means to them. The Spurs shot 21 percent (7-of-33) on midrange sots in this game (compared to 42 percent for the Grizzlies). The Spurs missed some shots they make, while the Grizzlies could not miss — Marc Gasol was 9-of-10 and Zach Randolph could not miss from the midrange.

The Spurs have lost the first game in five of their last seven first-round playoff series, this is not going to rattle them. They’ve been here.

Look for the Spurs also to hit their shots next game while the Grizzles percentage drops.

One loss does not make a changing of the guard. The Spurs and the Lakers remain the teams to beat in the West.

Now two losses in a row to start a series….

  1. 1historian - Apr 18, 2011 at 7:29 AM

    Good piece – one game is one game.

  2. thestudiokida - Apr 18, 2011 at 10:34 AM

    What I want to know: What is Phil Jackson’s record when losing Game 1.

    • davidly - Apr 18, 2011 at 2:41 PM

      6-7

    • davidly - Apr 18, 2011 at 3:06 PM

      Sorry, I think that should be 7-8. I read that it was 6-8 two years before they came back and won the Houston series. You remember, the one against Artest and co.?

      Anybody know what Kobe Bryant’s record is after losing game 1?

  3. passerby23 - Apr 18, 2011 at 11:36 AM

    I agree it’s just a game, no need to sound the alarm. The Lakers will put forth a greater effort. I’m predicting a trouncing in Game 2. The Spurs, though, have a problem. They’re not a stout defensive team and the Grizzlies frontline is imposing. I still like the Spurs to win the series, but I think they’re in greater danger than the Lakers are.

  4. fouldwimmerlaik - Apr 18, 2011 at 11:41 AM

    It IS just one game. I have been repeating that to myself since my beloved Lakers lost. I have also wet myself.

  5. davidly - Apr 18, 2011 at 2:44 PM

    Wait! Standard NBA analysis – both in the regular season and the playoffs – requires that you see the most recent game as the whole — type-type-typing with blinders on. You disappoint me, Mr. Helin!

  6. rajuncajun28 - Apr 18, 2011 at 5:47 PM

    keep saying that to yourself, FAKERS fans…it will be ok….

    • fouldwimmerlaik - Apr 19, 2011 at 2:43 AM

      “Fakers?”

      17 Championships (when one includes the NBL season in 1948)

      32 ConferenceTitles/Finals appearances (when one also includes the NBL season in 1948) not to mention 3 consecutive of recent years and 7 out of the 11 recent years.

      If that is FAKE for you, then what do you call YOUR team? Pathetic exercises in futility perhaps?

      To be honest, I’m not even worried. It’s just one game of a best of 7. Haters were saying the same crap the past 2 years only to swallow their spit in June.

      If anything, it just proved that the Western Conference is packed with wicked teams from 1 to 8.

      Props to CP3 and the rest of the Hornets. Their intensity and character would make the Lakers journey to another three-peat even sweeter.

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