John McEnroe vs. Bjorn Borg in the 1980 and ’81 Wimbledon Finals. Boston Celtics vs. Los Angeles Lakers in the 194 and ’85 NBA Finals. Muhammad Ali vs. Joe Frazier in the 1974 and ’75 boxing heavyweight title matchups. Those are amongst the greatest rematches in the history of sports.
Tonight’s Los Angeles Lakers vs Houston Rockets, the second matched up three days between these two teams, was not a great rematch. In fact, it wasn’t much of a match at all. The Lakers led 35-14 after one quarter and the Rockets decided they had seen enough. Honestly, it wasn’t even competitive after that. This is a tale of two teams going in different directions. The Lakers look like a team with Championship asperations, again. The Rockets, well, like I said, they are going in the other direction.
Star of the Game
LeBron James led the Lakers with 26 pts, 8 rbs and 5 asts. He was, in a word, spectacular. The fact that he is 36 years old is relevant because of what he is doing at 36 years of age. Most players at that ripe old age are either riding the pine and functioning as a pseudo bench coach, like Udonis Haslem (40 – no stats). Or they are a spot-starter/bench contributor while averaging well below their career highs, like Andre Iguodala (36 – 4.3ppg.), Carmelo Anthony (36 – 13 ppg.) and J.J. Redick (36 – 7.3ppg). LeBron James is 36 and averaging 24 ppg, 8.3 rpg and 7.7 apg.
Star of the Game, indeed. Star if the Season, possible. Greatest of all time, no doubt in the conversation.
The only real risk in a game like this is complacency. You saw hints of it as the Lakers were demoralizing the Rockets midway into the second quarter. Instead of making the right pass, players looked to make the flashy pass. Sometimes, when you play into the lead, you lost it. Thankfully for this veteran and well coached Lakers team, those moments in the game were few and far between. I expect no lasting issues, but, its a concern.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope was back in the starting lineup and he delivered. Sometimes it takes a while for a player to get back in sync with his teammates after being out. KCP’s 14 points on 5 of 9 shooting and three steals showed there was no out of sync issues to be concerned about.
Oklahoma City Thunder, Wednesday January 13th