Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Trouble in LA

After last night’s loss to Utah, the Lakers have to think that they’ve fallen out of the playoff race. They’re now 4.5 games out of the 8th spot, currently occupied by the red-hot Denver Nuggets. The Lakers have lost six straight games, and of their 11 games in April, TEN of them are against Western Conference playoff teams, including 2 vs. Phoenix and 2 vs. Sacramento. And to no one’s surprise, the weight of this losing streak is falling squarely on the shoulders of Kobe Bryant. After being completely outplayed by Dwayne Wade earlier this week, he has fallen apart in the fourth quarter of a couple straight games, and has gotten reamed by his interim coach. That’s right, his INTERIM coach is criticizing him. Not exactly where he thought he’d be at this point in the year.

Nonetheless, he’s still shooting plenty, as evidenced by his season-high 30.1 ppg in March. What he’s not doing, though, is passing the ball well, only 4.1 assists per game this month. This has meant that despite Lamar Odom’s absence from the lineup, other role players have had trouble establishing themselves during this losing streak. Chucky Atkins remains a quality starter, as does Caron Butler, but outside of those two, there are really no Lakers reliable enough to pick up for short-term help. You’d like to think that when 15 points and 10 rebounds go to the bench, somebody else on the team will pick them up, but apparently not.

One-Day Wonders
Pick ‘em up today, so you can play ‘em tomorrow!

G – Devin Harris, DAL
Well, that was quite a way to make a nice impression on your new coach. In his first major action under "new" head coach Avery Johnson, Harris lit up the Hornets for 17 points on just 7 shots, all in just 25 minutes. Considering he totaled ONE point over the past 4 games, odds are he’s on your waiver wire. Johnson may decide he likes playing the rook more than Don Nelson did, and he may well be worth playing tomorrow night vs. the Warriors.

F – Anderson Varejao, CLE
Yeah, we pumped him yesterday a bit, but he came through so we’re going to re-recommend him, just in case you weren’t paying attention. 11 points, 6 boards, 2 assists, a steal and 2 blocks last night in 25 minutes is a nice line indeed. He’ll provide a little help all over the stat sheet, and is quickly becoming an FBB favorite and potential sleeper for next year. We like him Thursday vs. Houston.

C – Shawn Bradley, DAL
Can you believe he’s been in Dallas for NINE straight years? Well finally, he might be playing well. I guess it was bound to happen. He’s still among the league leaders in blocks per 48 minutes, and he’s gotten 6 in the past 2 games while enjoying 31 and 23 minutes, respectively. With Avery Johnson still finding his rotation and Erik Dampier still out, Bradley could show up and get a couple more blocks and boards on Thursday night.


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