From Zach Harper, Eye On Basketball: They still have Steve Blake and, more importantly, Steve Nash to add back to this roster. They will have a more well-rounded attack at the point guard slot and that will allow them to push the tempo more often like they did in the first few minutes of the game and spread the floor. Kobe won’t have to force as much of the action at the end of games, and he’ll be able to find his way into easier scoring opportunities to put opponents away. Looking at Tuesday’s game, Dwight shot 36.8 percent from the free-throw line, the players not legally named Metta World Peace shot 2 of 12 from 3-point range, and Deron Williams torched Darius Morris for most of this game. And they still walked away with the victory over a quality team. Dwight won’t always shoot that poorly, the Lakers won’t always be that inept from outside and Steve Nash will still get scored on by the opposing All-Star point guard. However, he’l be Steve Nash on the other end of the floor and not Darius Morris, who will take time to learn his place in the flow of the system.
From Brian Kamenetzky, Lakers Index: He’s not going to stretch a defense beyond the 3-point line, but Pau Gasol’s ability to move the ball out of the high post opposite the high screen was key. On multiple possessions, the Lakers used pick-and-roll action with Bryant and Howard, and Kobe went away from the roll man to Gasol at the opposite elbow. Gasol fed the corner, he fed Howard, he found himself open for jumpers or he skipped a pass over the defense to the weakside corner. Gasol finished the night with a team-high seven assists … and could have had a few more. On a team without top-end 3-point shooting, his ability to make the right pass, grease an offense and perform multiple functions will be huge. On top of the passing, he added 17 points and 11 boards.
From Dave McMenamin, ESPNLA: Howard’s struggles from the line were particularly pronounced during the fourth quarter when he connected on just 3-of-10 attempts and the Lakers’ offense seemed to grind to a halt. However, as dicey as things got with Howard turning freebies into anything but free, Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni said he invites other opponents to try the same technique. “The thing with Dwight, I hope you know, if they start Hack-a-Dwight and he’s making one out of two, that’s a possession,” D’Antoni said. “That’s one point per possession. That’s pretty good basketball, especially down the stretch. So that’s fine. If they want to do that, that’s great. I got no problem with it.”
From Drew Garrison, Silver Screen and Roll: Kobe was in the business of crushing souls to start the game, hitting jumper after jumper. He ended the game with 25 points (8-15 from the field) along with an 8-10 free throw effort on a night that the Lakers were living, and dying, at the line. As a whole, the Lakers were 19-37 on free throws for an atrocious 51.4%. The Nets instilled the hack-a-Dwight strategy late in the game, who was having a harder time than Mike Tyson in a spelling bee sinking free throws. While Howard did finish with 23 points, 15 boards, and 4 blocks, his 7-19 from the charity stripe was a huge factor in the Lakers inability to pull away from Brooklyn. And, he airballed a free throw. You just don’t airball free throws.
From Devin Kharpertian, The Brooklyn Game: [Deron Williams] had what I’d call his best game of the season — abused Darius Morris in the way I expected him to abuse Aaron Brooks, hit shots inside and out, pushed the tempo at the right moments, distributed, and clowned. Deron Williams is a phenomenal basketball player, but it hasn’t always been fun watching him since the trade brought him here. Tonight, he was fun. Gets notched one tick down for that last play — with five seconds on the clock, catching and firing from 28 feet off-balance is way too heroball for me. But for 47 minutes and 56 seconds? Well worth it.
From Dan Devine, Ball Don’t Lie: When you’ve got a guy who’s averaging right around one point scored per offensive possession (as Howard is, according to Synergy Sports Technology), who’s shooting 69.5 percent when he gets the ball in the restricted area (as Howard is, according to NBA.com’s stat tool) and who’s been worse than a 50-50 proposition from the line for the better part of the past 66 games, fouling him as much as possible and as early as possible seems like a pretty sound strategy, percentages-wise. Especially when Howard offers the sort of effort he did early in the fourth quarter:
Lastly, Lakers Nation’s Daniel Buerge put together some highlights from last night’s game. You can check out all of the clips here.