Aging, Hulking Lakers Face Warriors, Like Goliath with Little David

NBA: Los Angeles Lakers at Denver NuggetsSaddle up, Goliath, we’re wading into another bunch of angry pissants who want a piece of us.

We learned the Biblical story from David’s perspective but this season, the Lakers get to walk a mile in the big guy’s sandals, heading into another hot time in the old town tonight against the resurgent Warriors in Oakland.

Ho, ho, ho, what’s that in your hand, a slingshot?
How cute!
Thud.

By now, it should be clear that the Lakers have had more problems injuries, personality clashes and the transition to Mike D’Antoni.

Their injuries have largely healed.

Their starting lineup is once more whole.

D’Antoni has been here four months, time enough to install his offense, then re-jigger when his personnel proved incapable of playing it.

The 27-year-old post-adolescent Dwight Howard has at least made contact with the deadly-serious Kobe Bryant across the chasm that separated them.

Howard is playing better, if still not Dwight of old.

As for the metaphysical claptrap they trot out after losses to explain taking nights off or blowing 18-point leads over the Wizards, no, that’s not it, either.

To borrow Kris Kristofferson’s line, the Lakers are a walking contradiction – part fact, part fiction.

The fiction is that they’re contending for a title.

In fact, they’re still an aging, hulking team, as they have been for three seasons.

If they now have a healthy center (compared to Andrew Bynum, anyway) and a real point guard (even if a 39-year-old one), it hasn’t made them any younger or quicker to the ball.

The contradictions are all over the place.

Numero uno was the combination of the determinedly post-adolescent Howard with the demanding Bryant.

The second was turning their big hulks over to an offensive-minded, floor-spreading coach.

If Jim Buss has been ritually blamed, choosing D’Antoni over Phil Jackson was his father’s call, according to people close to D’Antoni and Jackson.

Various reasons are given. One is that Jerry Buss was leery of Phil and Jeannie Buss overwhelming Jim after he was gone.

For sure, Jerry wanted to go back to Showtime, which was Mike, not Phil.

This one goes back years, to 2004, the first time Phil left, or, actually, was shown the door.

They had yet to hire a successor when I ran into Larry Drew, then an assistant coach, who told me everything they were doing at the facility in El Segundo was about going back to running.

Oh my heavens, I thought. Don’t they know that the game has changed, as teams took more threes, spacing the floor on offense and taking away Showtime-style three-on-two or two-on-one runouts?

No, they didn’t.

Next Page: Lakers Don’t Pick Phil, Things Begin Falling Apart

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