The NBA: Sustainability

Metta World Peace thinks all LA needs is to
be more sustainable. Will a trade help that happen?
(image by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

"We've just got to get to a point where we can sustain." – Metta World Peace on the state of the Lakers.

At 17-12, tied with Denver behind four other teams out West, the Lakers are still trying to find themselves. They’re still trying to get a good rhythm going. They’re still figuring things out. They’re still far from the stable sustainability that has gotten them so far for so long.

This is just a team that should be much better than how they’ve played. Anytime Kobe Bryant has two top-tier big men backing him up, the Lakers have got to be next to unstoppable, right?


Not when the fourth leading scorer is Matt Barnes at just 7 a game. 

Not when Matt Barnes is averaging 9 points lower than Andrew Bynum’s third-best of 16.3ppg.

Mike Brown has a nice Big Three combo to lead his LA team, but nothing much outside those three has really made a big impact on the team.

Metta World Peace, Josh McRoberts, and even Andrew Goudelock have had their breakouts, but nobody has consistently stepped up to be, for the lack of a better term, this season’s Lamar Odom. Who’s the match-up nightmare? Who’s the guy who can surprise the other team? Who’s the wildcard who can turn the Lakers’ fortunes around with just one made three?

Not since the post-Shaq, pre-Pau days has Kobe needed to exert himself so much, or at least it appears so. He has the two bigs down low to help the team lead the league in rebounds, and score at will, but who can he really rely on for help on the wings? For that big jump shot? For the defensive stop on the opposing team’s wing scorers?

Barnes is okay. World Peace is okay. McRoberts is okay. The thing is being “okay” is never going to be enough for LA.

And that Steve Blake and Derek Fisher PG pairing? Forget that.

They’ve won 6 of their last 10. They’ve been great at home. They’ve been awful on the road. They have two All-Stars. But they’re no longer the best team in Los Angeles.

This is a strange LA Lakers team.

Too bad strange doesn’t usually make for a good bedfellow with sustainability.

After the JUMP, key stat-stuffers for today’s games:

NYK over TOR, 90-87
Jeremy Lin's transformation from couch-warmer to NBA sensation took another big step in Toronto. Lin made a tiebreaking three-pointer with less than a second to play to cap his finishing flurry of 6 straight points, and the New York Knicks rallied to beat the Raptors, extending their winning streak to six games.
MIA over IND, 105-90
LBJ scored 23 points and nearly produced his first triple-double in 11 months, D-Wade had 16 points, and Miami became the first team in 33 years to win three straight on the road in three days. Miami is also the first club in 42 years to win each of the three by double digits.
OKC over UTA, 111-85
James Harden scored 22 points, Kevin Durant added 21 and Oklahoma City beat Utah for the second time in five days. The well-rested Thunder never trailed and led by at least 12 throughout the second half on their way to an eighth straight win at the Chesapeake Energy Arena, extending the team's longest home winning streak since moving from Seattle in 2008.
SAS over DET, 99-95
Tim Duncan had 18 points and 13 rebounds, and San Antonio overcame a spirited Detroit rally to beat the Pistons for its eighth consecutive victory.
Detroit trailed by 15 in the fourth quarter, but came back to take the lead behind Ben Wallace, the veteran big man who set a record by appearing in his 1,055th career game — the most for an undrafted player since the NBA-ABA merger.
DEN over PHX, 109-92
Arron Afflalo scored 20 points, Ty Lawson had 17 and Denver broke open a close game in the third quarter to beat short-handed Phoenix. Chris Andersen had 16 points and 7 rebounds and rookie Kenneth Faried had 13 points and 9 rebounds for the Nuggets, who snapped a five-game home losing streak.
CHI over SAC, 121-115
Luol Deng came through with 23 points and a career-high 11 assists, and Chicago beat Sacramento after watching a 19-point, fourth-quarter lead dwindle to two. Joakim Noah added 22 points and 11 rebounds as the Bulls clinched the Eastern Conference coaching spot at the All-Star game for the Tom Thibodeau.
MEM over HOU, 93-83
Mike Conley scored 21 points, and Rudy Gay added 20 points and 8 rebounds to lead Memphis over Houston. Conley scored seven points in the final 2:26 after the Rockets had trimmed what had been a 15-point lead in the third quarter to 84-79 on Kyle Lowry's steal and layup with three minutes left.
LAL over ATL, 86-78
Pau Gasol scored seven of his 20 points in the final 5:20 and grabbed 13 rebounds, and Los Angeles beat Atlanta. Andrew Bynum had 15 points and 15 rebounds for the Lakers, who returned from a 3-3 road trip and improved to 12-2 at home — compared to 5-10 away. Kobe Bryant, whose jumper in the final 5 seconds beat Toronto on Sunday, finished this one with only 10 points in 34 minutes on 5-for-18 shooting.
WAS over POR, 124-109
Nick Young scored a season-high 35 points, John Wall added 29 points and 9 assists, and Washington beat Portland for its third straight road win. Jordan Crawford added 21 points for Washington, which put together its best game of the season, shooting 60 per cent from the field and 52 per cent on three-pointers. Young was 7-of-8 from behind the arc.

Super Scorers (Top scorers of the night!)
Nick Young (WAS) – 35
Nicolas Batum (POR) – 33
John Wall (WAS) – 29
DeMarcus Cousins (SAC) – 28 

Ragin’ Rebounders (Top rebounders of the night!)
DeMarcus Cousins (SAC) – 17
Andrew Bynum (LAL) – 15
Marcin Gortat (PHX) – 14

DeMarcus Cousins had a monster game against
the Bulls, but it was all for naught.
(image by Jonathan Daniels/Getty Images)

Dynamic Dishers (Top playmakers of the night!)
Luol Deng (CHI) & Jeremy Lin (NYK) – 11
John Lucas (CHI), Jose Calderon (TOR), & John Wall (WAS) – 9 

Terrific Thieves (Top thieves of the night!)
Kosta Koufos (DEN) – 5  
A LOT with 4 

Boomin’ Blockers (Top blockers of the night!)
Serge Ibaka (OKC) & Chris Andersen (DEN) – 6
Amir Johnson (TOR) – 5 

Sharpshooters (Top 3-point shooters of the night!)
Nick Young (WAS) – 7
Kyle Korver (CHI) – 4
A LOT with 3

Nick Young's 7 threes helped the Wizards
upset the Blazers.
(image by the AP)

Feb. 14, 2012 First Five
C – Joakim Noah (CHI) – 22pts, 11rebs, 4blks, 3asts, 1stl
F – DeMarcus Cousins (SAC) – 28pts, 17rebs, 3stls, 2asts, 2blks
F – Nick Young (WAS) – 35pts, 7 treys, 3rebs, 2stls
G – John Wall (WAS) – 29pts, 9asts, 3rebs, 2blks, 1stl
G – Jose Calderon (TOR) – 25pts, 9asts, 7rebs, 3stls, 3 treys, 1blk
Joakim Noah is all smiles after helping the Bulls
make Thib the 2012 East All-Stars coach.

Honorable Mention:
Tyreke Evans (SAC) – 27pts, 8rebs, 8asts, 1blk
LeBron James (MIA) – 23pts, 9rebs, 7asts, 4stls
Luol Deng (CHI) – 23pts, 11asts, 7rebs, 1stl, 1blk

For a full summary of the day, here’s the NBA Daily Zap:

*Game recaps were compiled and compressed from the Associated Press.

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