Those are the words uttered in thriller suspense movie “Marathon Man” starring Laurence Olivier and Dustin Hoffman. “Is It Safe ?”: And if one can remember the scene whereby the villain of the piece Olivier an on the run Nazi war criminal subjects his prisoner Hoffman to some undue torture by way of drilling into his tooth with a drill.
What then follows is an unseemingly tortuous scene that one can only lament. As too was last night’s abysmal showing by the Los Angeles Lakers in their loss to the Portland Trailblazers. No matter which way you slice and dice it , analyze it or whatever. This may well have been the Lakers’ worst regular season display. And one might question the fact that there’d been a skirmish during the game between the two teams. But it oughtn’t to excuse the fact that they were handed their heads on a silver platter. And if nothing else it proves the point that the assumption being made that they possess the deepest bench in the league can no longer be justified. Based on last night’s performance they were anemic to say the very least.
As for the Trailblazers they’re proving to be a very young , hungry and tough team. Whatever they’re lacking in inexperience they’re more than making up for with their very determined displays. To my mind they are indeed the surprise team within the NBA this season and the fact that they’re now locked in a two way tie within their division alongside the Utah Jazz (40-23). It shows the progress that they’re now making under coach Nate McMillan. He’s providing the stability needed and the players themselves are buying into the thought process and teachings. If nothing else it has proved that this team though not yet tried and tested they’re now proving that they’re capable of contending with the best. Whether or not they can convert that into anything sustentative remains to be seen. At this juncture they’re trying to play themselves into the playoffs and garner a postseason berth.
In Brandon Roy the Portland Trailblazers possess one of the better young players within the NBA. And this season he proved that point by him being named to the All Star roster of the Western Conference for the NBA midseason showcase event. But it’s not just Roy alone that one has to be impressed with on this team. The roster has a nucleus that should they remain together over the next five or six years can contend for numerous championships. But that’d be predicated upon the desires of the hierarchy within the organization and the financial constraints that they would be under. If nothing else this team has become a pleasure to watch as they set about doing things the right way. They play with a zest and zeal not often seen in such a young and inexperienced team.
For the Lakers at present it’s not so much that questions will abound. But in all honesty the ship that’s though not necessarily teetering is now beginning to take in a great deal of water. And it appears that Cap’n Phil doesn’t appear to have all the answers. He may well nonchalantly shrug this aside as the players getting fatigued and just losing a game. But it should create cause for real concern when you’re basically pushed aside as an obstacle that’s taking up needless space. They were outplayed in every facet of the game. And as alluded to before their bench players were about as visible as one of H G Wells’ most famous fictional creations The Invisible Man. Whatever one may think as good as this Lakers’ team is. If they’re to prove their worth in the postseason then there are players on this team who’ll have to be more consistent in their play. They can’t be merely reliant on Kobe Bryant alone to play consistently at a high level , night in night out. Others will have to step up and augment the play of the current league MVP. One man doesn’t necessarily make a team but one man who’s a leader can lead and others will no doubt follow. And as of now Bryant appears to be leading but no one it seems is actually prepared to follow.
In stark contrast with the Portland Trailblazers’ Brandon Roy isn’t just leading but he’s also being vocal with his leadership and his teammates appear on the face of it are only all too willing to follow. It were as if there’s a great deal of confidence in one team whilst the other is now becoming all too apprehensive as to what may lie ahead and the uncertainty of what might follow. Could it be the Lakers aren’t as safe as they’d appear to want us all to believe that they are ?