Sports Beat, 1-14-08

--Andrew Bynum's sprained knee reminds us just how fragile success can be in the NBA. We don't know the extent of his injury yet, but it's become obvious that the Lakers need him in order to be a serious contender in the West. Up until now, the Lakers success had seemed geniune. They were playing some of the best team basketball that I had seen them play in years. But much of it hinged on Kobe creating opportunities for others on the floor, Bynum playing strong down low, and the bench providing a spark. They still have two of those three parts. Hopefully for the Lakers, Bynum won't be gone long.


--Elgin Baylor expressed his disappointment with the Clippers season, saying he expected a better record than 10-23. Some message board posters have called for Mike Dunleavy's job. I think it would be a serious mistake to fire him. Dunleavy has proven to be an excellent NBA coach. The reality is that the Clippers have faced a plethora of injuries from Elton Brand to Shaun Livingston to seemingly every one of their starters missing games for something. In a loaded Western Conference, it's hard to see how the Clippers could compete with all the injuries they've suffered.


--Reggie Miller said he was impressed with UCLA in their 81-74 win over Washington State, and so am I. Kevin Love is the real deal, and the Bruins seem as deep as any team in the country with Russell Westbrook developing into a solid player. It's a long season, but if UCLA continues their level of play, they should be looking at a No. 1 seed in the West with a road to the Final Four through Anaheim and Phoenix.


--In the meantime, USC has to be concerned about missing the NCAA Tournament. The Trojans inexplicably lost to Cal last week, and were out-hustled in a loss to Washington State. They took care of business in a must-win victory over Washington, but the Pac-10 is deeper than ever this year. The Trojans will likely need a winning conference record to reach the Big Dance, and 1-3 isn't a great start. O.J. Mayo needs to improve his shot selection and find ways to set up his teammates. His defense is excellent, but his game still has a ways to go if he wants to be a superstar in the NBA. Taj Gibson might be the key to the Trojans success this season. He needs to stay out of foul trouble and play like he did against Texas and North Carolina last season.


--The Falcons hired Thomas Dmitroff as their general manager, all but ending speculation that Pete Carroll could go to Atlanta. Carroll has said he would only take an NFL job if he was given full control over football operations.


--A few weeks ago, someone came up to me and asked "Who is the best player on the LA Kings?" The answer? Anze Kopitar. The 20-year old Slovenian center was selected to the NHL All-Star Game last week, a well-deserved honor. If you haven't had a chance to see him play, I recommend checking out a Kings game some time. In the meantime, Ryan Getzlaf and Chris Pronger of the Anaheim Ducks were also selected for the All-Star Game.

January 14, 2008 8:19 AM • Native Intelligence • Email the editor
 

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