3.05.2010

Help Me Ron-Ron! Help, Help Me Ron-Ron!

Help me Ron-Ron Yea! Get Ariza out of my heart! Last year at the end of the NBA Season I said that if you can only keep one Laker, Lamar Odom or Trevor Ariza, you’ve got to keep Ariza. Boy was I wrong. In the beginning, I wasn’t really a fan of the Ariza-Ron Artest trade. I felt it was kind of a wash defensively (with a slight advantage to Artest), but that Ariza had a youthful fire that this sometimes lackadaisical LA Laker team needed. Boy was I wrong. I still think Trevor is a great asset (and a lot of Houston Rocket fans now agree with me), but recently Ron-Ron has really started to find his groove here in the Entertainment Capitol of the World: Defensive Monster.

In the last 4 games, Artest has proven that he’s worth every penny he earns. He recently dropped 10 pounds, not fat mind you, just weight. The dude is cut (as we saw recently on Jimmy Kimmel. Got to know him pretty well in his underwear). He dropped the weight to be just a little quicker, and boy has it paid off. His defensive intensity really started shining last week with the 76ers, but it was his performance against Carmello Anthony and the Denver Nuggets that really made heads turn. Artest had a sickening 6 steals and 8 forced turnovers from Anthony, holding him to only 21 points and 1 assist. Ron-Ron spent the evening constantly disrupting Mello with tenaciously aggressive 1-on-1 play. If he was any more up on Mello, they’d be doing something inappropriate. Since that game, he has single-handedly proven that Lakers aren’t just Cupcakes, but can be a Rough-and-Tumble team when they need to be, making them a much more dangerous team in the West. By the way, he’s the first Laker to have at least 5 steals in 3 consecutive games since Magic Johnson did it in ’91. Sure he’s a bit of a Wack-a-doo, but in this system, Artest has actually been able to get comfortable in his role and act relatively normal.

Still holding onto hope for the best overall record, Los Angeles still leads the Dallas Mavericks in the West by 5 games, but trail the Cleveland Cavaliers by 2. Barring some unbelievable breakdown form the Cavs, there’s no way the Lakers will overcome the 2 game deficit. The Cavs play a majority of their remaining schedule at home and in the much, much weaker Eastern Conference. LA is practically on the road for the rest of the year. Only 7 home games in their last 22. But there’s really nothing to worry about if you’re a Laker fan. Only Phil Jackson and Greg Popovich really understand the importance of the regular season: besides making it into the post-season, there really isn’t any importance. The point being, the Lakers are holding out and as we’ve seen so many times before, can turn it on when they need to. After a hard fought loss in Miami last night, the Lakers are beginning to exemplify the attitude that defending champions should, that they’re going to fight until the end. And with the important help of Ron Artest, they’re doing it with much more defense than they have ever had before.

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