NBA Fact and Fiction: Are the Los Angeles Lakers Really This Good?

The Los Angeles Lakers have an early season look of a team on a mission, and their 124-105 demolition of the Memphis Grizzlies on Tuesday night provided another illustration of why they will be so tough to beat in June.

Popular theory says the best way to defeat the Lakers will be to turn every contest into a track meet, and the Grizzlies followed that blueprint and were promptly run out of the Staples Center.

Los Angeles led 73-46 at halftime and the 27-point margin at the intermission does little to justify how thoroughly dominant the Lakers were against a pretty good Memphis team.

The strength of the Lakers team is in their frontcourt, and even without the injured Andrew Bynum, the Lakers have been arguably the NBA's top interior team through their first four games.

Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom have averaged a combined 40.4 points and 23.3 rebounds, while shooting an astonishing 62 percent from the field.

As a team the Lakers lead the NBA in scoring at 114.2 points per game, are second in rebounding at 51 per game and are only one of three remaining undefeated teams after the first week of the NBA's regular season.

So, are the Lakers really this good?

Most observers felt Los Angeles entered the 2010-11 season as an improved version of last season's championship team, especially after acquiring key free agents such as point guard Steve Blake and forward Matt Barnes.

But, I'm not sure if anyone anticipated the level of focus and purpose that the Lakers have displayed during the beginning of their quest for a three-peat.

Most concerns about Kobe Bryant's knee have been erased in the face of the Lakers' impressive start, and the loss of Bynum has been an afterthought in the wake of the efforts of a motivated Odom.

Coach Phil Jackson has been able to not only limit Bryant's minutes, but Gasol's and Derek Fisher's as well, and Barnes so far looks lik...

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