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The Lakers are playing some uninspired basketball as of late, but come playoff time, count on the more focused championship team to re-emerge. Kobe Bryant is not about to let this team come up short. Photo by Jeff LewisDo not believe anything you see or hear from the two time defending championsBy Jason LewisSentinel Sports Editor
The Lakers are a bunch of phonies. After a 17-1 record following the All-Star break, they have turned into a team that does not play any defense, turns the ball over too much, and seems to not have much of an interest in winning. The Lakers have turned off the switch. They did not just dial it down, they completely turned if off. This is the same team who lost seven out of their last 10 games at the end of the regular season last year. The same team that had everybody in a panic heading into the playoffs, only to flip the switch on and turn into a championship team. In a few days the Lakers will become a team that hustles, that enforce their will, that moves the ball around, that plays defense. They’ll be a championship team. If you look close enough, you’ll even be able to see the triangle. Under Phil Jackson the Lakers have at times made a mockery of the regular season. Going back to the days with Shaquille O’Neal, they only held home court advantage throughout the playoffs once, which was their first title of the 3-peat, in 1999-00. That year they won 67 games. They played like they had something to prove so they ran through the regular season.The next year the San Antonio Spurs held the No. 1 seed, as the Lakers cruised through the regular season, with nothing to prove, only winning 57 games. The Spurs looked like they were going to win their second title with Tim Duncan, but the Lakers swept them, and the entire Western Conference, on their way to their second title of the 3-peat. The following year the Sacramento Kings ran through the regular season and grabbed the No. 1 seed while the Lakers sleepwalked their way through the season, winning 58 games. Well that story ended with the Lakers winning a third title. This current title team is not any different. After losing to the Boston Celtics in the 2007-08 NBA Finals, the Lakers had a lot to prove. So they won 65 games and did not go on a three game losing streak the entire year in 2008-09. That season ended with a championship, and the Lakers have been blowing off the regular season ever since. Last year their win total dropped to 57, and they did not make any efforts to finish the season with the best record. But they ended up winning another championship, even though they totally blew off the end of the regular season. Going by history, why would anybody believe that the Lakers would win 60+ games this season? The Lakers cruised through the first half of the season, and then decided to flip the switch after the All-Star break. It was almost like the 18 game period was a pre-playoff season, where they needed to fine-tune their game. After running through the Spurs, Mavericks, Hawks, Magic, Hornets, Trailblazers, and everybody else in their path, they seemed to have found their championship rhythm, so they shut it down again. Anybody counting the Lakers out because of this late season slump has not been paying attention to this team. Do not believe what is on the court. When the playoffs start, they will look more like that team that went on a 17-1 run, and not like the team that recently lost to some of the bottom feeders of the league.
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