Monday, February 9, 2009

Three random observations ...

... about the NBA:

1. So the Lakers look like they'll be OK, Bynum or no Bynum. They just knocked off the Celtics and Cavs on the road in less than 72 hours. The story Sunday was the performance of Lamar Odom, who was there for 17 rebounds, seven of them on the offensive glass, to go with a game-high 28 points in the 101-91 victory in Cleveland. And you thought this game was about Kobe and LeBron. If he plays anywhere close to this level, the Lakers look like the favorites to win it all. The Lakers' defense, too, deserves a nod after limiting the Cavs to 39-percent shooting and LeBron to 5-for-20 from the floor.

2. Greg Oden delivered one of those difference-making games we have been waiting for from him last night. He was a force on the offensive glass, picking up six of his rebounds on that end, blocked six shots and scored 17 points. His all-around performance was pivotal for the Blazers as they avoided what would have been a damaging loss to an inferior Eastern Conference team that just endured a draining "Dream Week" at Madison Square Garden. Granted, Oden's performance came the small-ball Knicks, but it's still representative of major progress for a guy who's missed more than half of his two-season career so far to injury.

3. We know the line about the Spurs "knowing how to win." Sunday's game in Boston demonstrated exactly what that means. They got a 23-point, eight rebound bonus from Matt Bonner to offset a rough night for Tony Parker, and got another clutch shot from offseason acquisition Roger Mason to go ahead with 20 seconds to play. Then they sealed the 105-99 win with a steal by Manu Ginobili off the subsequent inbounds pass. Gregg Popovich has a team that expects to win, and indoctrinates that idea into each of San Antonio's new acquisition. It's not just the mainstays with championship experience who act like they've been there before. It's everybody.

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