Welcome to first place, the view is amazing from up here. Canâ€™t quite see all the way to the playoffs from this vantage point, but I bet on a clear dayâ€¦.
There were a lot of things to like out of last night, and not just frustrating Clipper fans. Here are a few notes I made.
â€¢ This was the first game that Kobe looked like the explosive Kobe of old to me. Q. Ross is a good perimeter defender, so the Lakers were smart early to post Kobe up on him and let him use is strength advantage on him. But this was one of those nights Kobe was feeling it, and no one or two men was going to slow him. Plus, a team best 5 assists with just one turnover. Easily his best game of the season.
â€¢ Kobe shot 54.5% (eFG%), the rest of the team 37.1%. And the Lakers shot 40% of their shots from beyond the arc.
â€¢ Luke is shooting 71.4% on three pointers, a sign that he has both worked on the shot and his picking his spots well, shooting just when he gets a good look (like from the corner with :30 seconds in the game). The other thing, after every Laker game, if you read an opponentâ€™s blog, they almost always say, â€œWhen did Luke start to play like that, heâ€™s not that good?â€ Um, yes he is.
â€¢ There are games you can see the tandem of Bynum and Kwame making a solid 1-2 inside punch for seasons to come. There are still things that Kwame does that irritate â€” he made some bad defensive rotations and poor plays on high picks, plus was out of synch when first hitting the floor during a Lakers first quarter run. That said, seven offensive boards, 14 total and 15 points with some solid defense at other times, it was the kind of game Iâ€™ll take from him nightly.
â€¢ It was nice to see another team struggle to defend the pick and roll. When the Lakers made a run in the third running a pick and roll at the elbow with Kobe having the ball. Three consecutive times he drew the double, passed out at the top and the Lakers (either off that pass or with one more) got a clean look at a three for Lamar or Smush. It was a fast nine for the Lakers.
â€¢ Cassell abused Smush off the dribble in the third, then the Clippers went away from that in the fourth (yes, they went on a run in the fourth, but that was because the Lakers went 0-11 shooting). Not sure why they didnâ€™t exploit that more.
â€¢ I may do more on these later, but want to thank Ian for pointing me toward two new Laker posts up by Roland Lazenby. One, before the Clipper game, was Tex Winter talking about Kobe. The second was about Texâ€™s role as bad cop, allowing Phil to be good cop. As always with Roland, great and interesting stuff.
â€¢ Sorry this is up so late, the MAN is making me work hard today. (Weird, I know, but busy day at the office for me.)