30th April 00:24
The Fab One: Lakers still playing catch-up
The Lakers are catching up to the Spurs.
If they can add a fifth Hall of Famer, they should win in the SBC
Center someday without going to double overtime.
Until then, the Lakers will have to wonder what happens when Tim
Duncan and Tony Parker show up, and what happens if an Argentine is
just coming into his own.
America saw him, really, for the first time Thursday night.
America also saw something it never expected. Most wonder if these
Lakers will lose 10 games all season, and most figured they wouldn't
even be bothered by the Duncan-less, Parker-less Spurs.
The Lakers sensed the same. Before the game, watching tape of the
Spurs, Gary Payton fixed onto one moment. There was Duncan, all right,
going down against Memphis.
The Lakers likely relaxed. It's an old story in the NBA; when teams
lose their best players, the best comes out in the subs.
But Duncan has been out for a game and half already, and Parker hasn't
played a minute yet. It's too early in the season, too, for the Lakers
Besides, isn't indifference always the Lakers excuse? Next time
Shaquille O'Neal will vow he will not only show up in shape, but he
will also pay attention.
Last season ended with him looking similarly confused. That's when
superstars everywhere came to his assistance.
They all had similar motivations. Payton lost in the playoffs as a
Sonic for the last time against the Spurs, and Karl Malone as a member
of the Jazz had lost 13 consecutive times to the Spurs. So they joined
the same Lakers who had been eliminated by the Spurs last spring.
To continue with their fab-four storyline: How many times do even
comic books allow the most fearsome superheroes to gang up?
Enter a man with an "M" on his chest (or is it an "A" for Argentina?).
Ginobili had a lot of electric moments last season, but he did so as a
He'd never been that before. Whether playing for his native Argentina
or playing professionally in Italy, he's been the center of
everything. With Duncan and Parker out, he's become that again.
The Spurs sensed as much. For 14 years they waited until the last to
introduce David Robinson during the pre-game. Now they introduce
Last on the floor, first to take Bryant off the dribble. Ginobili
attacked from the beginning, and, if you squinted your eyes, it looked
as if Argentina was going against the Dream Team.
When Ginobili wasn't taking a charge, he was swatting a steal from
behind his back. For 45 minutes he slashed with the ball, looking for
teammates and the rim, and here's an extraordinary stat: He ended with
only one turnover.
He finished with 33 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists. And when he
dumped in a trey midway through the fourth quarter, for a nine-point
Spurs' lead, he had become something else entirely.
Ginobili confuses those who bank everything on the past. Everyone sees
the famous L.A. stars and don't realize that primes change. Malone is
a Hall of Famer, for example, and his steady start this season is all
the Lakers could ask for. His 19 rebounds Thursday would be impressive
for anyone half his age.
But Malone struggled, too, bricking one jumper to end regulation, then
air-balling another. He wasn't close to what he had been in Utah.
Ginobili isn't close to what he was a year ago, either. He'd been the
talk of training camp, and now, after career highs in both points and
rebounds, he's the talk of a tough loss.
If Popovich looks for something out of this, it's Ginobili. Add this
kind of surge to Duncan and Parker, and the Spurs have a chance again.
Ginobili tired at the end, and he admitted as much afterward. "In the
second overtime," he said, "I was worn down."
He also limped out of the locker room. "I don't know how that
happened," he said.
The Lakers likely left the building with a similar feeling. They were
healthy, rested and pressed by a guy who came off the Spurs' bench
just a season ago.
The Lakers have to wonder. Are they really catching up?
3rd May 17:09
The Fab One: Lakers still playing catch-up
The Lakers are healthy and rested?
Wow, I guess the second game of a back-to-back and knee surgery means
something else in the Mermaid land.
There is only one thing for the Lakers to catch up, and thats boston's
record of championships won.
Everything else, including our own record of 33 games winning streak, are