It was the Lamar Odom show at the Quicken Loans Arena Sunday as the Los Angeles Lakers handed the Cleveland Cavaliers their first home loss of the season and left the Lakers with the best record in the Association. Kobe Bryant awoke to flu-like symptoms and clearly appeared under-the-weather. But he persevered and fought through bouts of vomiting as he and the team capped a perfect 6-0 road trip. Was his performance Jordanesque? Perhaps not quite, but given the circumstances, it again proved Bryant’s warrior-like mentality with his ability to channel out pain and/or discomfort and still be able to lead his team to victory. He clearly set the tone in the first half and harassed Lebron James into an uncharacteristic 5 for 20 shooting performance. The Lakers help defense also came in abundant waves against James as player after player switched immediately onto him if the prior defender was beat. This forced King James to either put up a low percentage shot or to pass off to teammates who could not find enough answers to the Lakers stifling defense. The pressure of this marquee match-up was obviously evident on the pained faces of the Cav players. Chalk one up to Lakers experience from last season, and this season’s new found grit and determination.
Odom put up a season-high 28 points along with 17 rebounds. He had a double-double in the third quarter alone, scoring 15 points and grabbing 10 boards. Again, my sincere gratitude goes out to Boston Celtics forward Kevin Garnett. Whatever you told Lamar during your intimate conversation has sure worked out nicely. Thanks for the inspirational message and oh, sorry about that latest loss to Tim Duncan and Tony Longoria. I didn’t catch the game but I did see Desperate Housewives Sunday night.
dEDGE Post Scriptum
Last but not least, thanks are in order for the recently departed Vladimir Radmonovic. Although his shots infrequently brought down enough rain to rip through the nets, and even though he was constantly occupying Phil’s doghouse, he never stirred up any controversy in the locker room (other than that little snowboarding affair), badmouthed the front office, or created animosity amongst his teammates. In an age of Stephon Marbury and other athletes that make you want to cringe, this ended up being a financially driven business decision as well as closure on an experiment that didn’t quite work out as planned. As all true Laker fans or dedicated sports fans for that matter know, you pull for every single guy on the bench. He was one of us. And although he moves on without the warm, fuzzy feeling you get from the good ones, he nonetheless provided us with some sweet jumpers that were pretty to watch as they ripped through the cords. The notion of opening up the court so that Kobe, Pau and Andrew could attack inside the lane still holds true. But with Bynum’s injury and Lamar’s recent resurgence, the need for a long range shooter in the line-up became less and less of a need. Physically speaking, with Andrew out, that alone opens up the lane for Pau and Kobe to operate. Add to that that Lamar is a perimeter player who attacks from the outside in, and a $30-million dollar player competing for time with Yue and Mbenga doesn’t make a whole lot of fiscal sense.
What we got in return from the Bobcats were Adam Morrison and Shannon Brown. I guess this is our punishment for Gerald Wallace’s collapsed lung. But we will learn to love them once they put on the Forum blue and gold. And we will root for them with their small insignificant successes, and we will show them patience as they develop into their unfulfilled potential. And in the meantime, we say “Good bye” to Vlade and we wish you well.