Seems like a long time ago. Of late, the Lakers defense has been more sieve than trap. Jason Kidd, Devin Harris, T.J. Ford and Andre Miller have waltzed into the paint. The Lakers screen and roll defense looks the worst it has since Shaq was totally disinterested in playing it back in 2003. Sure, the Lakers are still winning, but how far can they go with questionable defense?
And give the Lakers way, way, way more credit for continuing to take teams completely out of what they want to do. Unless the 76ers really don't want to go to Elton Brand, which in that case I'm kind of bummed by both sides, then.
Let's assume they do, and Brand ended up missing six of seven shots, and a day later I can't even recall a single one he took. The Lakers' D just forces you into impatient, goofball shots, and when you have an impatient, goofball team like the Sixers, things tend to fall into place.
For all the Lakers issues on the defensive end, and there are some, they continue to take away the opposing team’s best option most nights. Even when they lose. Danny Granger from Indiana shot 10 of 27 on the night, not exactly lighting it up, what killed the Lakers that night was rebounding (and boxing out Troy Murphy).
You just get the feeling Lakers fans are going to be on pins and needles until the Christmas Day showdown with Boston. No other win will be good enough.