It’s widely accepted that players who come off the bench play better at home than they do on the road. Maybe the basket appears to be wider, maybe it’s the hardwood, or family members in the stands or the fact that instead of taking a two hour plane ride, they took a two hour car ride on the 405 to get to the game. Okay, so the latter may only apply in Los Angeles.
Now, it’s one thing to have a slight drop-off offensively on the road, but if the bench at least had decent defensive efforts, the disparity between production on the road and at home wouldn’t be so disheartening. It would also prevent me from having that recurring nightmare where Nate Robinson and Glen Davis put up a combined 30-points in game 4 of the finals, celebrate by having Big Baby piggyback Robinson as he slobbers all over the parquet at the Garden. Oh wait, that’s right it wasn’t a nightmare, it actually happened. Donkey, Shrek and the rest of the Boston bench had 36 points to the Lakers’ then “bench mob’s” 18 points. I’m no expert, but I know that’s not how the Lakers anticipated the game to pan-out.
Case and point, should the Lakers fail to get home-court, consistency from the bench on the road is imperative.
This isn’t anything new. A bench that comes in and doesn’t completely dismantle whatever lead, if any, that the starters have built is a welcomed sight. The Lakers’ bench has exhibited signs of being able to make a difference in the game, even on the road, but the question is can they be consistent.
Sticking to the basics, not trying to get too fancy by running erratic fast-breaks and preventing oneself from falling into the ill-advised, three-point shot trap, are just a few ways the bench is successful in hostile arenas. Clamp-down defense doesn’t hurt either.
Sometimes the Lakers’ bench gets it done, other nights you sit there and wonder why the bench player on the opposing team, that you’ve never heard of is all-of-a-sudden playing lights out against the Lakers.
The good news is, you just never know, the guys who struggle off the bench now might come out of it by the playoffs. It’s January, I’ll stay optimistic until about the second week in April.