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Under the Heat Wave, Lakers Chug Along

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The minute LeBron James decided to take his talents to South Beach, the Miami Hype Machine started working overtime. They were deemed to be able to break the 1995-’96 Chicago Bulls record 72 wins with jaw-dropping panache that would rewrite the books on NBA history. They might still do it, but their 5-2 record is anything but transcendent.

Meanwhile without the pomp and circumstance the Lakers quietly made moves to add Steve Blake, Matt Barnes and Theo Ratliff while re-signing Derek Fisher and Shannon Brown. Now they are 7-0 leading one to wonder when they will get their first loss.

Over the last couple of season, the Lakers have had a favorable schedule and this season is no exception. Their most resounding win came on Sunday against the Portland Trail Blazers while they have also beat up on the Memphis Grizzlies and Sacramento Kings.

Looking forward in their schedule they might get tests at the Denver Nuggets on Nov. 11, at Milwaukee Bucks on Nov. 16, at Utah Jazz on Nov. 26, but their first true test won’t come until they host the Miami Heat on Christmas Day. The question now is whether they will be 29-0 heading into that most-hyped matchup.

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That would normally sound absurd seeing as how they were 23-4 in the 2009-’10 season and 23-5 in the 2008-’09 season heading into those Christmas Day games, but looking at this team there seems to be no ceiling on possibility.

A lot of the Lakers’ potential is that bench. Let’s look at the points per 36 minutes from the main three bench players from the 2009-’10 season versus this season:

2009-’10 season Points per 36 Minutes After 7 Games
- Lamar Odom: 10.3
- Jordan Farmar: 11.3
- Shannon Brown: 14.2

2010-’11 season Points per 36 Minutes After 7 Games
- Shannon Brown: 18.8
- Matt Barnes: 15.9
- Steve Blake: 14.1

The bench production has gone up while head coach Phil Jackson has trusted the bench to play more minutes this season. They have rewarded him by either holding onto leads or extending leads.

It’s nice to see the Lakers do so well, but the idea of the Lakers reaching 72 wins is premature at this point. However they are laying down the foundation for their third consecutive championship.

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