A lot of Lakers' fans are talking today about how the Lakers blew another big lead on their way to winning game five against Utah. That's significant, but it's not as big of a deal as most people think.
The Lakers have blown leads all year...since the first week of the season. You know what? They normally win anyway.
I'm not trying to cover up a problem here. I fully admit that the Lakers need to figure out a way to close games better than they have been. But keep in mind that the team that was on the court at the end was mostly comprised of subs. When Phil Jackson put Kobe, Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom and Trevor Ariza back in....they closed the game quickly.
I think by winning the series in five games, they've set themselves up for a nice rest before round two. I think their opponent will be Houston, although I wouldn't mind seeing Portland stretch out this series and beat the Rockets up a little bit.
Some general observations:
--Lamar Odom is playing the best basketball of his career. He's doing everything, and then some. If he keeps that up, I don't seeing the Lakers losing to any team--even Cleveland.
--Andrew Bynum is down, but not out. He didn't play well at all in round one, but Phil Jackson indicated after the game that Bynum will go back to the starting line-up in round two. Lakers assistant Craig Hodges was in studio with us on Tuesday, and he made a great point: these are really Bynum's first playoff games. He's been on the team, but has never played real minutes. The experience he gets in each round figures to help him down the road.
--Shannon Brown has played so well in the last three weeks, I wonder if Jordan Farmar will ever get off the bench in the post season.
--Mychal Thompson, the Lakers' color analyst on radio, insists that Portland (who is down 3-1 to Houston as I write this) will turn things around and beat the Rockets in seven games. He's wrong.
--I don't know anything, and Phil Jackson has never said this, but I'm starting to think that if the Lakers win the title this year, Phil might step down. He's made tons of money, he's in the Hall of Fame, and his challenge now is to get the Lakers back to the top. Once he does that, I think he seriously considers leaving.
I'll blog again once we know the Lakers next opponent...