NBA Playoffs 2012: Can the Lakers Beat the Thunder?

Peace be with you.  And also with you.  All hail the return of Metta World Peace.  The Lakers finally closed out Denver in Game 7.  A task they should have done two games ago.  

But the series stretched to 7 because of the inexcusable lack of effort in Games 5 and 6.  Especially Game 6.  Kobe Bryant battled a terrible stomach bug all day game day and still showed up to play. Which is more than I can say for Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol.  Bryant was so severely dehydrated that he needed four IVs just to make it through his own flu game. But Bynum and Gasol were just invisible. 

Actually, Bynum wasn't invisible.  He was worse.  He didn’t hustle and bratted it out on the bench again at the end, refusing to join his teammates in the huddle.  How do you not have your sick teammate's back?  This is why Kobe is the superstar he is: max effort regardless of circumstances.  Kobe was heroic, but the Lakers still lost.

The fallout the next day here in Los Angeles was predictably severe.  The media and the fans (and Magic Johnson) went straight to whose head(s) would roll.  The general conclusion being, with the exception of No. 24, no one is safe.  Not coaches or players.

For the second year in a row, Gasol failed to show up consistently in the playoffs.  We already know that Mitch Kupchak does not look favorably upon such behavior.  Gasol should know that.  And if he doesn't, he need look no further than where Lamar Odom's locker used to be.  Gasol is expensive and getting older and is no lock to be wearing a Lakers jersey next year.  His only hope is to bring it for the balance of the playoffs.  And in Game 7, he finally played with the passion and energy we know he is capable of. 

Andrew Bynum is another matter.  I think Andrew thinks he is untouchable.  He is not.  You are playing ...

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