Pau Gasol #16 of the Los Angeles Lakers drives with the ball past Dwight Howard #12 of the Houston Rockets during the game at Toyota Center on November 7, 2013 in Houston, Texas.
First, these Los Angeles Lakers have the ability to rise to the occasion and defy the odds.
On opening night, the Lakers beat the Clippers in the battle for LA after almost no one gave them a chance. Even the brave few who gave them a shot did not expect them to blow out a team that was the hot pick to win the title. After that opening night shocker, the Lakers overcame long odds again when they came into Houston as 13-point underdogs. They won on a last second 3-pointer, but the strong first half once again showed the fight in this team. If the Lakers are counted out before the opening tip, they tend to take it personal and prove people wrong. Don’t count these guys out.
Second, the Lakers are a poor road team, but they are getting better.
Starting the season 1-3 on the road is a pretty strong indication that the Lakers need to improve away from Staples Center. However, LA is improving. The first two road losses were blowout games that were never competitive. The last two away games featured the Lakers playing better. The win in Houston was an emotionally charged game that meant a great deal to the fans back home. However, the Lakers were more likely motivated by breaking their duck on the road than necessarily beating Howard head-to-head. In the loss at New Orleans, the Lakers were neck-and-neck until the final three and a half minutes. Running out of gas on the second night of a back-to-back in the third road game in four days is excusable. Also, that Anthony Davis kid is pretty good.
Third, Pau Gasol has not lived up to expectations, but he’s not as bad as most think
With Kobe Bryant out, Gasol was expected to carry the extra weight and keep the team afloat until Bryant was able to return. Instead, the Lakers’ bench has been the dominating factor in winning games. Through the first seven games, Gasol is averaging only 12 points on 35.2 percent shooting--both career-lows. Although the Spaniard was the first person to point out that he has not delivered, Gasol has improved his rebounding. Gasol has been a necessary force on the defensive glass and is averaging a career-high 9.3 defensive rebounds per game. Also, Chris Kaman has taken on more of an offensive load down low, and a great deal of Kaman’s opportunities result from Gasol’s spacing and passing. Finally, Gasol is shooting 43 percent from behind the arc this season, and that was not something anyone expected coming into the season. Gasol may not be playing up to expectations, but he will always find a way to contribute.