From Andy Kamentzky, Land O’ Lakers: It’s hardly a secret The Mamba has a certain flair for lighting up the Garden. (He entered the building averaging a honkin’ 30 points per game on his career in New York, and an honkin’-er 42 points in his last four appearances.) That’s a high mark established for showmanship, but the All-Star didn’t fail to live up to his own legend. The performance started out a little rocky with consecutive turnovers, but from there, YOWZA! After the Lakers fell behind early, a 3-pointer was drilled to get back within five and kick-start some momentum. From there, eight consecutive points were racked up to push the Lakers ahead 20-18, all part of a flat-out clinic. A trio of triples were drained. Rookie Landry Fields was duped by his self-described “idol’s” patented sweep through move. A one-handed floater was casually dropped from between the circles. The quarter ended with 19 points, despite an opening four minutes without a shot attempt. KCAL color commentator Stu Lantz had a great description of the MSG sound as the 12 minutes concluded and Kobe was the presumed talk of the building: “A nest of bees.”
From Jimmy C, Knickerblogger: But while Phil Jackson certainly brought a more tested and talented squad to the World’s Most Famous, the Garden’s Charmin-soft rims didn’t seem to know the difference: the Lakers shot a very loud 54%, including a solid 6 for 15 from distance. In fact, of the players who took more than one shot, only Ron Artest (2-9) and Steve Blake (2-5) managed to shoot below 50% from the field. It was the 5th time in 6 games the Knicks have surrendered over 50 for FG%, with the lone exception being a 100-98 loss at Philly a week ago. Meanwhile, the Knick’ shooting woes continued, as they once again mirrored their opponents’ proficiency with a head-scratching under-50% outing for the 4th time in 5 games. Overall the Knicks shot 41% from the floor, including 5-20 from downtown. The lone bright spot – at least statistically – was Raymond Felton, who banked 20 with a gaudy TS% of 75%. Stat, meanwhile, again had trouble getting to the rim against the Lakers staunch interior, netting 24 on 20 shots. Ironically however, and despite playing in the veritable Laker forest of bigs, Stoudemire managed to grab 10 boards for the first time since pulling down 12 against the Thunder on January 22nd – a string of 8 games that has coincided with an equally confounding overall rebounding famine for the Knicks.
From C.A. Clark, Silver Screen & Roll: Consider the scene; Kobe loves playing in New York. He has a higher scoring average in Madison Square Garden than in any other arena in the league, over 30 points per game. He already has 22 points in the 2nd quarter, and a player from the opposing team does something to piss Kobe off. Was there any doubt in your mind as to what was going to happen next? Were you pondering whether Kobe would hit for 40 points in this game, or 50? 60 even? Sure enough, the very next Lakers possession, Kobe gets the ball, attacks the basket hard and … dumps it off to Andrew Bynum, who misses a chippy. Next time down, another aggressive drive and … another dump off, this time to Pau Gasol for a dunk. Throughout the remaining four minutes of game action, Kobe Bryant attempted zero shots, and had zero trips to the free throw line. Make no mistake, Kobe was on fire in this game. He was feeling it, in a city he very much loves to feel it in, and the other team gave him motivation he didn’t even need to go for the jugular. And he responded by backing off of his own personal gas pedal, and going into distributor mode. I’ve never seen anything like it. I’ll tell you what, that Kobe Bryant, he’s like an onion. He’s got layers.
ESPN Stats & Information, TrueHoop: Kobe Bryant scored 33 points in a 113-96 win for the Los Angeles Lakers over the Knicks, and was at his most dominant in the first quarter, when he hit six of seven shots from 15 feet and beyond. That’s the most shots he’s made from 15 feet and beyond in any quarter this season. His 19 points in the first quarter were his second-highest total in the opening period this season. He had 21 first-quarter points on Jan. 28 against the Kings. Bryant was 4-for-4 on isolation plays when guarded by Danilo Gallinari, and went 7-for-9 from the field on those plays for the game. The Lakers continued their recent defensive success in half-court situations, holding the Knicks to 39.3 percent shooting in those instances, according to video review. In their past four games, Lakers opponents have shot just 41 percent when working out of a half-court offense.
From Mike Bresnahan, LA Times: Road, sweet road. The Lakers have definitely found a comfort zone away from Staples Center, leaving behind their uninspired play last week with yet another road victory. The opponent wasn’t as stacked as the Boston Celtics, the venue not nearly as charged as TD Garden 24 hours earlier, but the Lakers did just fine in putting away the clearly inferior New York Knicks, 113-96, Friday at Madison Square Garden.
From Mark Medina, LA Times Lakers Blog: If anything, the Lakers’ effort against New York continued a pattern on this latest trip where a balanced offense proves the necessary ingredient to ensure success. But that doesn’t always show up in the statistics, such as field-goal attempts, number of assists or touches. It points to the moments when Bryant’s teammates appear just as engaged offensively during his scoring spree as they would if he facilitated. It points to the moments when the Lakers continued to secure the lead when Bryant sat out through quick ball movement, timely cutting and sharp passing. And it points to Lakers’ ability to adapt to both scenarios interchangeably. The formula has proven effective so far on this trip. There’s no reason why it can’t stay that way.
And to polish this off, a few other items to check out before you finish your day:
- At ESPN Los Angeles, Ramona Shelburne looks at what was quite possibly Phil Jackson’s last visit to Madison Square Garden.
- Personally, I’m going to miss Jerry Sloan. And as rumors swirl that Sloan’s resignation should be placed at the feet of Deron Williams, Kobe says not so fast.
- Lastly, Sekou Smith has been putting up great posts chronicling the top 10 plays from the different seasons in Kobe’s career. Up today, last season. Go check out the video.
And because I can’t get enough of it, here’s Shannon’s alley-oop from last night. Still don’t understand how he reaches back and then still throws it down.