I suppose we should start with Kobe: He wasnâ€™t the explosive Kobe that strikes fear into the hearts of mere mortals. There was certainly some rust. It appeared as if he looked to pass first and shoot second, feeling his way into the offense.
All that said, Kobe did a good job of blending in to a team that has been playing well, taking the ball to the hole when the opportunity presented itself and setting guys up other times. He finished solid stat line: 23 points on 8 of 15, a team best six assists and a +8 for the night.
The best news is Kobe practiced Saturday (although sat out a scrimmage) and his knee responded well.
Defense? Friday night certainly wasnâ€™t the best four quarters of defense the Lakers have played, but they held the Sonics to 39% shooting in both the first and fourth quarters, and that was enough.
While he racked up 30 points, the Lakers actually did a decent job of keeping Ray Allen from being efficient in getting them — for the game Allen shot 47.9% (eFG%). The Lakers did a particularly good job in the fourth quarter, when Allen went 0-6 from the floor. Lamar and Kobe split time on him in the fourth, and both did well.
However, no Laker gave Rashard Lewis much trouble as he shot 57.1%.
Feed Me! Among the things I want to see more of in the second game of the home-and-home is the Lakers getting the ball inside to the post. The Sonics, like the Lakers, were down to their third string center but they finished with six more points in the paint than LA.
Particularly, get the ball more to Bynum on the block. When they did, Bynum made some nice plays and some crisp passes, but he didnâ€™t get as many opportunities as the first two games. They need to feed the big man, and preferably early.
Things I donâ€™t want to see again: One of the great things about all the depth on the Lakers is the coaches are playing around with lineup combos. They should, and they should take notes.
In the middle of the second quarter, the Lakers went with a lineup of Farmar at the one, Evans and Kobe at the two/three, Radman at the four and Cook at the five. Ugliness ensued. Farmar had trouble staying in front of Earl Watson (all the Lakers did) but the combo of Cook and RadMan along the baseline were slow to rotate and provided no shot blocking threat. Thatâ€™s when the Sonics went on their run. Chris Wilcox and Damien Wilkins had some of their best play of the night. Iâ€™m sure the coaches made note.
By the way, while Farmar had his off moments he also had one play in the fourth quarter where got slowed by a Wilcox pick but recovered, caught up with Ridnour and blocked his shot. You remember Smush ever doing that (not to mention Atkins)? That hustle shows why heâ€™ll be getting more minutes down the line.
Sonics that impressed: Damien Wilkins played well, 12 points on 6 of 8 shooting, and was +13 (best on the Sonics). Also I thought Earl Watson gave the Sonics a boost off the bench.