As I mentioned in my postgame report, nothing about last night's game mattered except the Lakers's health after the 48th minute. Thus, a major injury to Sasha Vujacic and smaller dings to Ron Artest and Luke Walton were a harsh reminder of how the injury bug has kept the Lakers stuck in neutral:
- Heading into the postseason, the Lakers remain a team desperate to get healthy, devoid of rhythm and robbed of opportunities to develop continuity. It makes you realize just how much good fortune the Lakers enjoyed during their championship season.
For example, Andrew Bynum was their only major injury, and the team happened to be well seasoned in dealing with his absence. Shannon Brown emerged an astonishingly quick fit. Trevor Ariza suddenly morphed into Reggie Miller during the Finals. And the list goes on. Not that the road to O'Brienville was a cake walk through the daisies, but championships rarely come without a few breaks, and the Lakers certainly received their fair share in 2009. All things considered, there were surprisingly few bumps in the road.
The second time around, not so much. Things have never quite clicked quite as anticipated or hoped. The minute one obstacle was hurdled, another emerged. It's only fitting the Lakers would close the season even more shorthanded. What better way is there to compliment kicking things off with Pau Gasol sidelined?
Among the questions ESPNLA.com's Dave McMenamin has regarding the Lakers postseason, injuries are also among them:
- It was a fun story for the first couple months of the season when Bryant was playing through elbow, back, knee, finger, groin and ankle ailments and still hitting game winners, but now there's no joy in recounting the tales of old scars for the Lakers, because many still haven't healed.
Bryant missed four of the Lakers final five games of the season to rest his legs and to alleviate swelling in his right knee and discomfort in his fractured right index finger. Bynum missed the Lakers last 13 games with a strained left Achilles' tendon. Sasha Vujacic could miss the entire first round with a severe left ankle sprain and Luke Walton (back) and Jordan Farmar (left hamstring) are not at full strength heading into the series.
All of the postseason experience in the world can't magically heal the wounds the Lakers are dealing with right now. If Bryant can return as the player he's known to be, he can disguise a lot of those downfalls. If Bryant returns and plays like he did in his last three games when he shot a combined 21-for-70 (30 percent), the Lakers will be in some trouble.
Mike Bresnahan, Los Angeles Times
Kevin Ding, Orange County Register
Elliott Teaford, Los Angeles Daily News
Bresnahan (LAT), on Bynum's return to action
Teaford (LADN), with more on Bynum
BLOGS AND COLUMNS
-Ding (OCR), on Kobe's MVP-ness.
-DexterFishmore (Silver Screen And Roll) is also sweating the lack of healthy bodies for the Lakers.
-Forum Blue and Gold foresees an interesting postseason road for the Lakers.
-They're just the Staples Center step-children to many, but if you're interested in the Clippers, ESPNLA.com's Ramona Shelburne relays some interesting comments to interim/likely-to-become-ex-coach Kim Hughes about Baron Davis and Chris Kaman.
-Kevin Durant didn't appreciate Phil Jackson's comments about his residence at the free throw line.