Don Nelson, Ringmaster of the Golden State Warriors had a simple game plan. Outgun the Los Angeles Lakers. For over 3-1/2 quarters, his plan worked to perfection. But then defensive stops by the Lakers culminating into Golden State turnovers proved the difference as Trevor Ariza sank consecutive treys to put the Lakers in the lead for good. In a game which proved to be highly entertaining and fun to watch, the outcome was never really in doubt, just the timing as to when the Lakers would decide to step up their defensive stance and end the Warriors offensive run. We all know what the Lakers are capable of doing on the defensive end, and to that point, we are all familiar with what the Warriors are incapable of doing as well. As the Lakers produced the necessary stops to take final control over the game, Golden State floundered in confusion, picked off on effective screens, then re-screens, finally forcing them to foul to stop play. Six Lakers scored in double figures, led by Kobe Bryant’s 30, Pau Gasol’s 24, Lamar Odom’s 22 and Trevor Ariza’s season best of 17 points. Sorry folks, only 7 rebounds for Lamar last night. But chasing perimeter players for most of the night, as well as getting into early foul trouble limited his ability to chase down rebounds. An unexpected lift came from the bench in forward Josh Powell as he provided 16 points and 7 rebounds in 24 minutes of action. The increase in playing time resulted from the trade of Chris Mihm earlier in the day to Memphis for a conditional second round pick in 2013. Another luxury tax move in these economically trying times.
dEDGE Post Scriptum
The business side of the NBA is often cold and unemotional. All teams are personally affected by trade rumors, transactions and ultimately, the economy. How professionally disappointing do you think it is to move from a championship caliber team to a bottom dweller? Sure, Chris will get more minutes in Memphis, but his playing time had recently increased due to Andrew Bynum’s knee injury and it looked like he was finally getting his chance to reprove himself, after multiple ankle and heel surgeries had sidelined him for the past two years. Flashback to the start of the 2004 season when the Lakers were floundering after the break-up. Fish had left for Golden State for his much deserved payday, Phil was out, Rudy T was in, everyone was up-in-arms over the Shaq trade and wondering what we were going to do with two stiffs in Brian Grant and Vlade Divac, and then the Kobe/Mailman spat had ended our only hope for a decent season… Boston had been in the dumps for some time and had become perennial Atlantic division doormats and were willing to take expiring contracts and flotsam just to clear their books. In return for an angry Gary Payton and a retiring Rick Fox, the Lakers got Chucky Atkins, Jumaine Jones and Chris Mihm. Mihm, originally projected as the third string center behind both Divac and Slava Medvedenko surprised us all with his hustle, shot blocking ability, and his ability to finish around the basket. Clearly one of the only bright spots in an otherwise forgettable season, Chris Mihm started all 75 games he played in the 2004 season. He came back in 2005 and was averaging just over 10 points a game with Phil back in the helm when he went down with a ankle injury which was originally diagnosed as a moderate sprain. The Lakers were finally starting to gel and were making a late push for the playoffs. Chris was expected back in the line-up in time for the first round, but his injury proved to be much more problematic. This injury and subsequent re-evaluations of his foot ultimately sidelined him for the better parts of two years. He ended up sitting out the entire 2006 season, came back briefly in 2007 for 23 games, then had season ending surgery again. This season, Chris Mihm returned and appeared healthy again, finally free from the constant ankle and foot pain he had suffered from for so long. Unfortunately for him, the Lakers had accumulated an overabundance of players at the center position with Andrew, Pau and DJ Mbenga, and he was the bearer of an expiring contract.
Hopefully Chris will prosper in his new environment as a member of the Memphis Grizzlies or wherever he ends up after the season. He deserves a chance to reestablish himself, but more importantly, he deserves a break.