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Garbage Time: Autobahn

March 11, 2010



In this week's edition of "Garbage Time," Teach wants you to know that a certain Australian is more than just another Dude and I share my distaste for the Lakers effort on defense.





Teach:
Number one picks are usually unforgettable, either as punch lines or as the vessels that come to embody the franchise.  Andrew Bogut is mostly neither.

Sports Center would have us all believe the Dude is simply Australian, but the Dude abides.  

Despite the constant neglect, Andrew Bogut abides the continuous waves of the NBA like a surfer.  He endures incoming wave after incoming wave and waits for his moment, which may come sooner than later; after all, the Milwaukee Bucks are 9-1 in their last ten games, cresting on a four game winning streak, and sitting in the fifth Playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

The Dude averages 16.2 ppg, 10.4 rpg, and 2.5 bpg (which is second only to Dwight Howard).  Those numbers have Bogut ready to take the place of Chris Kaman as the best center always brought up in conversation for something other than his on court production.  The only difference is people will throw around the word Australian as if it were synonymous with ugly when it's not.  

And, when someone wants to discuss the Bucks and can only mention the kidnapped Bunny, Michael Redd, or a few German nihilists: John Salmons, Brandon Jennings, and Carlos Delfino, you tell 'em the Dude abides like a rug that really ties the room together.

Langston:
Entering Tuesday night the Los Angeles Lakers were in the midst of their first three game losing streak since the acquisition of Pau Gasol, which included losses to the Heat, Bobcats, and Magic. They appeared to be having their worst run in recent memory and, quite possibly, on the verge of their first four game losing streak since April 2007. But appearances aren't always what they seem.

The Heat can play with any team in the league because they still have Wade (for however long that may be), who can win any game with enough motivation. Last Thursday, he appeared to have that drive. He was hitting shots at will and when slowed down he set up his teammates beautifully to do damage of their own. When the night was over, Wade had 27 points and14 assists, the Lakers were left with their 16th loss of the season. Then it was on to Charlotte to face the Bobcats, who like the Heat are a middling Eastern Conference team hovering around .500 and just playing good enough to stay alive in the playoff race. Yet, despite their overall averageness and their lacking of a D. Wade type talent, they have beaten them 7 out of the last 9 times they have faced off.  They own the Lakers, meaning this wasn't so much an upset, but more of an inevitable circumstance of one team outplaying the other consistently over the years. After dropping their second straight they traveled to Orlando to play the Magic on Sunday afternoon. With a lineup starring Dwight Howard, Jameer Nelson, and Vince Carter, I think it's safe to say that the Magic are pretty darn good and that it wouldn't be a stretch to imagine a rematch in this years finals. Making this a 50-50 game, one where the ball can bounce in any teams direction, this game just happened to go the other way.

Put it all together and you get a three game losing streak, that looks much worse than it really is. They didn't play their best (guarding the perimeter and the rim seemed impossible), but they were also the last team in the league to lose three games in a row this season and they still have the best record in the West. And while this streak doesn't mean a whole hell of a lot for their playoff hopes, that wasn't the case for Tuesday's game against the Raptors.


The Lakers needed 14 points in the fourth, 32 in the game, and a late game-winner from Kobe just to survive. It wasn't because of their offense, they played just fine (even if  Kobe was forced to commandeer the offense). It wasn't because Toronto is some talented unstoppable scoring machine either, they are far from it. No, it was the defense. None of them, including Kobe, seemed too concerned with guarding the opposition on the perimeter. At times they looked lazy, like they were saving all of their energy for offense. I don't know if it was because of the opposition, maybe they took them lightly. But this is easily the worst defense I have seen them play in a long, long time. And for a team hanging in the top 3 of defensive efficiency for the better part of the season, it was hard to watch. A team this talented shouldn't be allowing the Raptors to shoot 41% from downtown or 44% from the field. I should be fair and mention that Andrew played his best game of late, dropping 22, blocking a couple, and altering a lot of shots. They also forced 13 turnovers, but that has as much to do with the Raptors being the Raptors as it does with their defensive pressure. But maybe I should just be happy that they are still in first out west, as I'm sure, your tired of all this disdain I'm sharing with you. You might even be on the verge of doing an impression of Walter Sobchak, screaming to yourself  "Shut the fuck up, Donny!" But I say "Mark it zero!" Why? Because the Lakers could be making things a whole lot easier on themselves.

Instead of having to pull off a miraculous shot late in the game, they could have been playing tough defense and running their offense throughout. This is what any team does when at their best, it's how they beat the Magic last year and it's how the Celtics beat them the year before. If they continue to save their energy on the defensive side of the ball (they will probably still be tough to beat), it will make repeating that much harder and that much less likely. The Lakers know they have problems, lets just hope they continue to work on them.
  
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