The big story from this game was the fact that in the middle of the ‘Wolves third quarter run (more on that later) Andrew Bynum jumped for a rebound, was a bit stiff after he landed, and left the game not to return. Reportedly, he has a strained left achilles tendon and will be reevaluated tomorrow. Obviously, we all hope for the best with this latest set back for big ‘Drew as he was once again starting to turn the corner with his play, even earning praise from Phil Jackson before the game for his improved play, conditioning, and better health of late. A “strain” is not typically a major injury (though, I’m no doctor), and I would hope that he’s day to day. But with a game on Sunday and then a pretty important road trip coming up the Lakers can ill afford for ‘Drew to miss too much (if any) time. I’d happily take a missed game on Sunday for a healthy ‘Drew on the upcoming roadie. We’ll update the site as we get more info. Now, back to the recap.
The Lakers won. The end.
Oh, you want more than that? Well then, the Lakers played the type of game we’ve come to expect from them when they play a team like Minnesota. When the Lakers don’t feel threatened in a game or feel like they can’t really lose to a team, they let their guard down. They let lesser opponents hang around and stay within striking distance, because in the end their talent will win out. And that is exactly what happened tonight.
The game started with Kobe in a passing mode as he racked up 7 assists in the first quarter and 9 total in the first half (he’d finish the game with a season high 13). He passed willingly and created easy buckets for his teammates – feeding Pau and Bynum for dunks and layups, hitting Ron for open jumpers, and feeding Fisher for…never mind. One play in particular that stood out was a classic “showtime” fast break with Farmar and Kobe running a two on one with Kobe eventually making a wrap around pass to a trailing Gasol who proceeded put Darko on a poster. This game was looking like a rout in the making as Minny showed that they are in fact not very good and the Lakers talent was obviously several levels above. A ten point half time lead only seemed like the beginning.
But in all to familiar fashion, the Lakers gave back the lead in the third quarter. They relaxed on defense, didn’t care to even try to execute on offense, and watched as the ‘Wolves took a two point lead. Time out Phil Jackson. What then proceeded is what you’d expect when the defending champs face one of the worst teams in the league. The Lakers picked up their defense, Minnesota committed several bad turnovers in a row, and the Lakers closed the third quarter on a 12-0 run that recaptured their ten point halftime lead. And in the fourth quarter, the Lakers would do just enough to keep their lead in the seven to ten range and would make the plays that they needed to when they needed in order to pull out the win.
A perfectly uninspiring game on a Friday night in Los Angeles against one of the worst teams in the league. If this game wasn’t pretty much a guaranteed win before the game started, I might feel different about this one. What with the mid game struggles, Fisher not making a single shot in six tries, and the Lakers not rebounding on the defensive glass the way they needed to. But in a contest where Kobe was attempting behind the back passes with the same frequency that he normally shoots fade away jumpers and Odom taking (and making) more three pointers in a single game than he’s taken in his past seven games combined, I’ll take the results and move on. I mean, this was a game that was pretty lifeless for most of the contest with little to no excitement and not much action to keep the crowd into the game. I think the presence of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes caused more of a stir than any thing that went on during the game, save for (maybe) the aforementioned Pau dunk on Darko. So, ring up win number 51 and lets get ready for the Wizards on Sunday. And for now, think happy thoughts for Drew and enjoy the college hoops on tomorrow.