I initially thought the Lakers just needed some rest in order to get back in contention. They had played well into the finals for the past three seasons. But when you tally how much rest they will be getting this season, it would only amount to about 14 games at the max.
It’s not as if the Lakers ran into a bad matchup and won a couple of games. They were completely exposed by the Mavericks.
Gasol was probably just tired from being ridden so hard early in the season and the Lakers as a whole probably punched themselves out with that huge post all-star break surge that saw them nearly catch San Antonio for the number 1 seed. (But judging from his huge drop-off in play, you have to consider the possibility there is an undisclosed injury hampering him.) He and Odom (31 years old) seem to be the healthiest key players on the roster.
Bryant has been as durable as a cyborg, but finally appears to be slowing down. He is no longer a lock down defender, and can only occasionally take over a game on offense.
There is no denying that Artest is extremely limited on offense and his defensive play has diminished considerably. The Lakers are now stuck with an overpaid small forward, a situation the Spurs are in. Andrew Bynum is an excellent big man but will probably be plagued by injury problems throughout his career, Derek Fisher has no business manning a starting PG position for the Lakers or any team for that matter.( I don’t think Blake is the answer)
The Western conference will probably not be any friendlier next season as Westbrook and Durant continue to grow up and the Grizzlies continue to improve. The more I think about it, barring a not unthinkable trade for a gun like Dwight Howard, the Lakers title window has slammed shut. Your thoughts please.