On a night where Kobe didn’t even have his ‘B’ game the Lakers still won. On a night where they rolled around in the mud with the Charlotte Bobcats for four quarters, the Lakers came out on top. And, on a night where Pau started 3 for 9 and our back up guards combined to shoot 6 for 20, the Lakers came out victorious. It’s been said many times before – an ugly win counts the same as a pretty one and you don’t get extra points for style. As history has proven time and time again, the Lakers struggled through a long night against the Bobcats. Only this time – the first time since 2005 – the Lakers pulled out a home win against the visiting team from Charlotte.
As I mentioned earlier, Kobe was clearly off his game. Connecting on only one of his first seven shots, Kobe struggled on offense the entire night (ending 2 for 11, for only 5 points) and was not much better on defense. Sure, he was picking his spots early and not forcing any shots, but when he did shoot they just did not fall. Throw in another rolled/stepped on ankle and we had a night where our best player was hobbled and ineffective. But, in the end it didn’t matter. Why? Because that vaunted Lakers front line came to play this evening. Andrew Bynum started out hot and active collecting 8 points and 9 rebounds in the first period. In the 2nd quarter, it was Gasol’s turn as he scored 7 points and grabbed a couple of boards. It was also in the 2nd period that Odom joined the party and he continued to be effective into and through the 3rd period, scoring 10 points with a level of activity that we all love to see from my favorite southpaw. When it came to Odom’s game, I think Joel B. said it best in the comments:
Ladies and Gents, we had a Lamar Odom sighting. For the past week I’ve been saying Lamar has to play inside, today he was aggressive around the rim and not settling for jumpers. He got offensive rebounds and put packs, took the ball to basket, posted up. Lamar has to continue to give himself opportunities, if so, the lakers become difficult to beat, even in a game where kobe goes 2-10 or whatever he was this game.
And so it went for the Lakers this evening. The advantage that this team has held over almost every team in the league resurfaced against the Bobcats as the Lakers’ front line put up the kind of stats and had the type of impact that this team will need to make a deep playoff run. The final tally for our 3-headed PF/C combo? – 50 points, 24 rebounds, 9 assists, 3 steals, 4 blocks, with only 2 turnovers. That is getting it done. You throw in an efficient night from Ron Artest (14 points on 9 shots, 1-2 from three, 3-4 from the line) and you have a team victory with our best player walking around like the tin man from the Wizard of Oz (before the oil can).
It wasn’t always pretty. Who am I kidding, it was never pretty (save for Shannon’s spinning drive that led to LO’s sweet up and under with the crazy english). But in the end, I’m happy with a win against a team that has just seemed to have our number since they formed the franchise.
A couple of other notes from this game:
*As I noted, our back up guards did not shoot well. However, they did play well (for the most part). Yes, they could play a bit more under control (I’m looking at you Shannon) and they could be a bit more focussed on running the Triangle (do you really need to run the P&R that much Farmar?). But, they were aggressive all night and Farmar essentially clinched the game with a last second steal and dunk. Overall, I was happy with their contributions.
*Fisher, for all the heat he takes in the comments, had a pretty good game. He did not force shots and ones that he took went in. Fish finished with 9 points on 3-5 shooting including 1-2 from three. Could he run the break better? Is the sky blue?
*The Lakers defensive rebounding was a problem in this game. The ‘Cats grabbed 18 offensive rebounds on just 45 misses. I counted at least two possessions where they got 3 tries to score on a single trip down the floor. The Lakers are not the strongest defensive rebounding team, but an effort like that is not acceptable. Squeeze the orange, fellas.
Enjoy this win for what it was – another ‘W’ in the win column. And with Denver going down to Phoenix tonight (in Denver) be thankful that we gained some ground on our closest competitor in the West.
Update: I’d be remiss if I did not mention one other important aspect from this game: Phil Jackson passed Pat Riley as the all time leader in victories as coach of the Lakers. This is a great achievement and it speaks to Phil’s fantastic ability as a coach and his longevity with the Lakers franchise. In typical Phil fashion, he deflected all credit to all of the players that he’s had the pleasure (and pain) of coaching, but as fans I think we know better. I mean, he took a team that had felt the pain of playoff disappointment for several consecutive seasons and turned them into champions when he came on for his first stint as Lakers coach in the ’99-’00 season. In his second stint as coach, he took a team that featured Smush and Kwame in the starting lineup to the playoffs. And now, he’s back on top of the mountain looking for more. I can’t imagine another person coaching this team and I hope I don’t even have to consider it for several more seasons. I really can’t say enough about Phil Jackson, so I’ll let other do it – check out Eric Pincus’ take here and friend of this site Antwonomous’ tribute to Jackson here.