Lakers/Wolves: New Lakers In Sessions

Rey Moralde —  March 16, 2012

Box Score: Lakers 97, Wolves 92
Offensive Efficiency: Lakers 106.6, Wolves 101.1
True Shooting %: Lakers 56.4%, Wolves 47.7%

The trade deadline is gone. For months (heck, for years), us Laker fans knew what we wanted. What we really, really wanted. We wanted a much better PG. The deadline cost the Lakers Derek Fisher. But what the Lakers got back? A young, quick 1 in Ramon Sessions.

Also, goodbye to Luke Walton. And goodbye to Jason Kapono. We hardly knew ya, Jason. And hello, Jordan Hill and Christian Eyenga! Jordan Hill. She sounds hot.

THE GOOD
Let’s start with Matt Barnes. He seems to play really well against these Wolves (remember his 23-point effort last year where he didn’t miss a single shot). In this game, he scored 17 points off the bench (6/9 shooting). He made three shots behind the arc, which is three more than what the Lakers usually make per contest. He and that new point guard (who we’ll get to in a bit) were the catalysts of that 19-6 run in the second quarter. After that, the Lakers were seemingly in cruise control; the Wolves never seemed like a threat to win the game. L.A. played well enough (though by no means did they play excellent) to win the contest.

It’s really hard to make out what was extremely good in the still-together core of Kobe Bryant (who’s probably going to play a bunch of Grand Theft Auto or Mortal Kombat for the rest of the season since his BFF is gone from the squad), Pau Gasol, and Andrew Bynum. Gasol, who probably listened to a lot of Boyz II Men before the trade deadline, started out really fast but, in the overall game, wasn’t the most impressive. Neither was Andrew Bynum; he had trouble making shots inside and stopping the Wolves on the opposite end. Kobe didn’t have a high-percentage shooting night, though he was blowing smoke off his fingers every time he put up a shot behind the arc. But they all produced. Kobe Bryant had 28 points (including that baseline J that put the game away) on 9-for-20 shooting. Pau Gasol had 17 and 11 while Bynum had 15 and 14.

As for the debut of Ramon Sessions? He brought some much-needed speed and quickness to this Lakers team. Compared to Derek Fisher, Ramon is Sonic The Hedgehog. He was a sparkplug off the bench today (obviously, it’s his first game so it was best to bring him off the pine) and had a crowd-pleasing one-on-four fastbreak lay-up (okay, he burned everyone). It was quite shocking to see such a play made by one wearing the purple-and-gold. In 19 minutes, Sessions finished with 7 points, 4 rebounds, and 5 assists. Just what the doctor ordered.

Steve Blake started in place of the recently-departed Fisher. He played a quiet but very good floor game to the tune of 6 assists and 0 turnovers.

Led by Matt Barnes, the bench scored 31 points. Yes, I know. I’m as surprised as you are.

This normally doesn’t happen, either. The Lakers never beat anybody behind the arc. But the Lakers made 10 3-pointers compared to the Wolves’ 4. An 18-point advantage in that department is always good.

Also, the Wolves struggled to make shots. They only ended up making 40.2% of their shots. Always a good thing if the Lakers’ opponents don’t shoot well, right?

THE BAD
Those big guys must be difficult to box out or something. The Wolves beat them in the offensive glass, 18-11. Nikola Pekovic and Kevin Love combined for 12 offensive rebounds alone.

Andrew Bynum really struggled tonight on both sides as the Wolves threw big bodies at him. The repeated double-teaming got to him. He only shot 4-for-13 but, at least, he perservered and still got big numbers in the end.

The Wolves also scored 48 points inside the paint as they tried to abuse the Lakers inside. The Lakers countered back with 12 blocked shots, yes, but it was a bit of a concern throughout the game. Because Minnesota never seemed to make noise about coming back, we might have seen the quietest 27-15 performance from Kevin Love. Nikola Pekovic also had big numbers at 20 and 12.

The Lakers also had some trouble defending the pick-and-roll. Luke Ridnour had 11 points and 12 assists. These would be more glaring issues if the Lakers were losing or won in a closer game (because, seriously, the scoreboard doesn’t indicate how the Lakers controlled this game).

The Lakers only shot 41.3 percent. I can’t say this was a good thing, either.

Also? No Ricky Rubio. And we all know he’s not returning this season. I’m going to go cry in the corner now.

THE UGLY
Not the most exciting game to watch even if the Lakers controlled the contest nearly the entire game. The first quarter was as exciting as staring at a blank computer screen. The game came alive when Ramon Sessions came in so let’s thank him for that!

Also ugly? Ask the Wolves. They haven’t beaten the Lakers in 19 straight contests.

THE PLAY OF THE GAME
The fastbreak dunk by Kobe Bryant off the Steve Blake assist in the second quarter. Nikola Pekovic can tell his grandkids later that he was in a poster with Kobe Bryant. Well, heck, I want to be in a Kobe Bryant poster, too.

That video makes me want to go to Germany, sing some David Hasselhoff songs, and get that knee procedure. Even though there’s nothing wrong with my knees other than the fact that I can’t jump over ants.

The Lakers draw Utah in Staples Center on Sunday. L.A. is 19-2 at that comfy stadium. And they have won 5 straight games overall. They could be peaking right now. And with the new Sessions acquisition (and Jordan Hill… and Christian Eyenga…), the Lakers are now a tougher team to go against.

Before I end this, I want to get a few words in about Derek Fisher as well. Most of us have called for Derek Fisher’s head due to his on-court performance in the last few years. But those championship banners don’t hang without Derek Fisher. Yes, we cringe and shout expletives every time he gets burned by an opposing point guard and when he misses one of his now-patented foot-on-the-line shots. But Fisher just has that ability to make the shots under the most pressure. We all remember the shot against Orlando in the Finals that sent the game to OT. In that same contest, he made another big 3 that essentially won them the game. There was also Game 3 in the 2010 NBA Finals when he made a lay-up against three Celtics. We can never forget that post-game interview about how he much loved his team and this game. Not many people talk about this but he made that game-tying three in the fourth quarter in Game 7 of the 2010 NBA Finals. The Lakers never relinquished the lead after that moment and went on to win the championship. And, of course, 0.4. That moment is immortal. We will always have that and that’s thanks to Derek Fisher.

For every big shot… it’s hook, line, sinker, Fish. We will all miss you, Derek Fisher. Good luck the rest of the way. This game was for you.

Rey Moralde

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