The Starting 5: LA’s Struggles, Hibbert’s Emergence & Pierce Wakes Up

starting_5_copyEvery morning, we’ll give you five things from the night before in the NBA to start your day.

1: Lakers drop their third straight

Another game of “Kobe vs. the world” with Bryant takine 30 shots and no one else taking more than 12.

We’ve said a lot about the Lakers so we’ll keep this one brief.  We can sum this up with Pau Gasol’s big stat:  10 assists.  If Pau’s your assist guy, then the Lakers offense needs to change.  If the Lakers truly want to run their offense through Gasol, then he can’t have LA’s third lowest usage rate for the game.

If Kobe took five fewer shots and Gasol got those touches, this might have been a win the way Pau was passing the ball.  But this is part of the struggle of a new coach and new system in this lockout shortened year.

2: Roy Hibbert’s fantastic season

I’m not sure how many people are really paying attention to Roy Hibbert’s play this season.  His stats aren’t eye-popping at 13.9 ppg and 9.9 rpg.  But a closer look shows he scoring more efficiently and effectively around the basket.  Last season, he shot 42.5% on shots from 3-9 feet away from the basket.  This season, he’s hitting 56.4%.  A much improved post game means teams have to worry about him more as a threat to score.  On a Pacers team that boasts a lot of solid scoring options, forcing the defense to give added attention to the post is huge.

Hibbert’s steady improvement is as much of a reason for Indiana’s success as anything else.  He gives Indiana the ability to adjust and take advantage of a mismatch, running the offense through Hibbert if the situation calls for it.  His contributions to the Paces really should not be overlooked.  His performance last night against the Lakers (18 pts, 8 reb, 4 ast) just underscored what he’s meant to this team all season.


Chauncey Billups throws it up… DeAndre Jordan throws it down.  A play so nice, they do it twice

LeBron James finishes on the other side of the hoop

4:  Line of the Night:  Paul Pierce:  34 points, 8 rebounds, 10 assists

With Rajon Rondo out with a sore wrist and Ray Allen leaving in the first half with an ankle injury, it was up to Paul Pierce to take over and lead the struggling Celtics past the Washington Wizards.  The Wizards tied the game at 75 with about 9 minutes left.  Pierce then scored 14 of his 34 to hold them off.

Pierce was not in shape coming into the season, and a heel injury hampered his ability to get right.  With the Celtics sitting at 6-9 and vultures swirling around the team waiting to see if Danny Ainge will trade any of his assets away, Pierce needed a performance like this to show Boston that the Celtics may not be dead yet.

5:  Anomalies

With the Heat’s loss to the Bucks last night, they are currently the 6th seed in the East.  The Boston Celtics are the 8th seed (barely) and the New York Knicks are a half game behind and currently out of the playoff race.

Out West, Denver is 12-5 and the second seed, with Portland and the LA Lakers currently on the outside looking in at the playoffs.

It’s still really early, but this also isn’t where we thought we’d be about a month into the season.  Can you imagine a playoffs without the Celtics, Knicks or Lakers?

Go ahead, make your parity jokes.  But I’m sure David Stern won’t be laughing if those three marquee franchises, and their huge TV markets, aren’t around come playoff time.