Are the streaking Lakers peaking too soon?

March 30, 2011

No peaking too early

Ira Winderman

Sun Sentinel

The notion of peaking "too early" is absurd. Last time I checked, it wasn't as if Kobe was playing 48 minutes or Phil even was making him practice. And it's not as if the Lakers didn't have their uneven moments earlier that provided vital lessons.

While the Lakers and Celtics came off uneven finishes to the 2009-10 regular season to make it to the 2010 NBA Finals, it does not make it the preferred path. Since when is having your house in order a bad thing? The greater concern is when a team has to fight to the very last week, as the Bulls, Celtics and Heat do at the top of the Eastern Conference. That's when a coach might push an ailing player too far.

Winning is a good habit. There is nothing wrong with such repetition. Somehow, we figure the Celtics envy where the Lakers stand, aren't wondering, "Boy, all that winning is gonna ruin those guys."

Right time to hit stride

Zach McCann

Orlando Sentinel

Peaking too early? It's almost April. When, exactly, would you like the Lakers to peak? Remember when the Lakers went 8-8 over a 16-game stretch back in November and December? Winning back then would have been peaking too early. Instead, the Lakers felt out the first half of the season, remained healthy and felt confident they would return to the elite level they played at when they won championships in each of the last two seasons.

The timing couldn't be better, as they've won 15 of 16 games and are playing at an NBA Finals level. Especially with a team like the Lakers, which is filled with veterans who have won titles, performance in the regular season isn't as important as figuring out how to win in the playoffs.

The Lakers know how to win in the playoffs, and there's nothing wrong with peaking in late March.

Driven cast hits gas

K.C. Johnson

Chicago Tribune

The Lakers absolutely are not peaking too soon. More than any team in the league, the Lakers know when to hit the gas pedal and when to coast. They peak when Phil and Kobe say it's time to peak. And with several league observers writing their obituary during a stretch of hiccups near the All-Star break, Kobe and Co. decided enough is enough.

For years, way back to his days coaching Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen, Phil Jackson's style has been to build to the playoffs. The Lakers are building. They're winning games with defense and rebounding and timely scoring — the ingredients needed to win titles.

Phil and Kobe know a little something about those. So what if they've lost just once since the All-Star break? Kobe creates his own motivations. So that first playoff loss — whenever it comes — will drive him again, right back to a Western Conference title and trip to NBA Finals.

No, it's perfect timing

Barry Stavro

Los Angeles Times

Nope. The Lakers won Game 7 in the Finals last June because they had home court and weren't playing in Boston. Since the All-Star break, Phil Jackson has sprinkled his magic pixie dust and whammo, the Lakers are 15-1, and still have a faint chance to catch the Spurs for the best regular-season record.

Meanwhile, other title contenders have been fading. Check out their second-half records: Bulls 15-4, Mavericks 12-5, Spurs 11-7, Heat 10-7 and Celtics 11-8.

Granted, you still have to win 16 playoff games in the spring to get a ring. But it's easier to do it with home court on your side. Advantage Phil and Kobe.

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