11/29--New Jersey at Lakers
I know it was against the Nets, but the Lakers won their sixth game in a row in ridiculously easy fashion. In all six games, they've scored more than 100 points and won each by a double-digit margin. They ended their October/November schedule with a 13-3 record, but all three losses were without Pau Gasol. It reminded me a lot of last year's championship season, when the Lakers finished October/November at 14-1.
But how are they doing it? Why is it that they're not only winning, but dominating?
"The defense is getting better and better," Kobe Bryant said after the NJ win. "We're working really, really, hard at it. Energy has been consistent. This is something we feel like we can maintain."
But how have they adjusted so quickly to one new player (Ron Artest), and another who missed most of training camp (Gasol)?
"I think the experience, as far as us playing together, understanding the triangle," Lamar Odom says. "Ron is an incredibly smart basketball player. I think he understood what he had to do to take over for Trevor. He's fit into that role well."
I really think they're on to something here, but we won't know for awhile just how good the Lakers are. The schedule doesn't exactly get tougher in the coming days. The next five games are at home (New Orleans, Miami, Phoenix, Utah, Minnesota), followed by a five game road trip against teams with mostly losing records (Utah, Chicago, Milwaukee, New Jersey, Detroit). After that, they play Oklahoma City at home before the big Christmas day showdown with Cleveland.
That's 11 games before the Cavs come to town. If the Lakers go 9-2 (certainly possible), they would go into that Cleveland game with a record of 22-5. That would be within a game of what the team was last Christmas, when they beat the Celtics and the season took off.
Next up: Chris Paul and the Hornets in their final visit to Staples this season, on Tuesday. The Lakers beat the Hornets, 104-88, back on November 8.