Now That’s More Like It

 —  December 17, 2004

Let me add my voice to the chorus — what the hell are the Dodgers doing?

Oh, wait, not that chorus, this is a Laker blog. Let me try again:

Let me add my voice to the chorus — last night’s win in Sacramento was, by far, the best game the Lakers played this year.

So many things went right. Lamar Odom was aggressive early, finally. And the Lakers got him the ball in a position where he could do damage, 15-18 feet out, isolated on a guy, Chris Webber, who couldn’t cover him (Webber wasn’t the most mobile of defenders in his younger days, now he’s approaching pylon status). In the second half, Miller started to help out on Odom, and other guys stepped up. (Personal side note to Lamar: In post-game interviews, don’t refer to yourself in the third person. It leaves this bad, Bob Dole ringing in my ear.)

Kobe was at the heart of that second half run, penetrating, scoring and dishing it out. Everyone was making the extra pass — and hitting the open jumper. There was good play from the bench — Tierre Brown had 15 points (but 4 assists and 3 turnovers), Cook had 12 and Jones had 8 and played good defense. Overall, the defense was not spectacular but it was good enough.

Part of it is that everything looks good when the shots are falling, the Lakers’ eFG% was an insane 62.7%. (We also should note that Sac missed more than its normal share of open looks, especially Peja, which helped, too. The Kings’ eFG% was 48.3%.)

But this win was more than just the hot hand. It was Kobe’s best game — getting others involved early, picking his spots well to get his shots (no off-balance leaners at the buzzer). The Lakers held the Kings to 9 fast break points. They scored 50 of their points in the paint.

This game was a sign of maturity — shaking off a tough loss to get a quality win on the road against one of the five best in the deep West. While there have been setbacks, this Laker team is getting better as the season goes on (just like we all knew would happen but have been impatient waiting for). After a harsh loss on Tuesday, this game was a ray of hope for the future.

And isn’t hope the best of things?