Kobe and Dwight Dominate Late, Lead Comeback

Darius Soriano —  March 6, 2013

20-0.

That’s the run the Lakers went on to close out the Hornets over the last 6:46 of the game. The Lakers hit 7 of their last 10 shots while the Hornets missed all 12 of their attempts and committed 5 turnovers.

33-9.

That’s the final 4th quarter tally, a combination of fantastic Laker basketball and an incredible collapse from the Hornets that left everyone a bit stunned at what they were watching.

The Lakers really had no right winning this game. Early on, they looked like they were playing in quicksand defensively and forgot how to operate their offense on the other end. The played the part of the “physically and mentally tired team on the 2nd night of a back to back” part to a tee, leaving everyone more than a bit frustrated.

At the end of the 1st quarter they were lucky to be tied, but by the end of the 2nd their luck ran out as they trailed by 19. At one point in the 3rd quarter they trailed by 25. They were dead in the water and the Hornets were picking away at their carcass with made jumpers, savvy drives, and excellent defense.

But then, at the start of the 4th quarter, things just started to click as the Lakers turned up their energy and aggression on both sides of the ball.

Offensively, that meant a heavy dose of Kobe. He started the quarter with a drive for a short jumper plus the foul. On the next possession he’d hit another short jumper. Kobe then went into passing mode, setting up one of Meeks four three pointers in the period and a dunk by Dwight. Then it was another assist to Meeks. Then a long jumper of his own. And then a dunk. A look up at the scoreboard showed that the Lakers only trailed by 5. They were back in it. Sandwiched between two missed jumpers by Ron, Kobe got a lay up. Then he hit a fadeaway. Lakers lead by 2. Then a dunk and two more FT’s to ice the game.

He’d end the quarter with 18 points on 7-8 shooting. He’d end the game with 42 points and 12 assists. He’d leave the court with his arms raised like a prize fighter who just survived a pounding in the early rounds only to deliver the knockout blow to the head after a bunch of punishing body blows.

Kobe didn’t win this game alone, though. What #24 was to the offense, Dwight Howard was to the defense.

In what was probably his best defensive game of the year, Howard was a monster in the final quarter. He walled off penetration, slid his feet to create proper angles, and protected the rim with the ferocity that marked his DPOY campaigns. Oh, and he did it all while playing with 4 (and later in the period, 5) fouls the entire time. His block on Robin Lopez essentially clinched the game for the Lakers, taking away their chance to tie and setting up the inbounds play that led to Kobe’s break away dunk on an inbounds play where words can’t really describe how badly the Hornets defended.

This is the type of win was sorely needed, but also one that can inspire belief in a group that they can accomplish anything with the right amount of focus, commitment, and urgency. Should they have ever been down by so much to the Hornets? Probably not. Do they need to find ways to defend in isolation and in the P&R better for longer stretches? Of course they do. But, in the 4th quarter, they regrouped and fought as hard as they could and pulled out the most improbable win. They had no business winning this game.

But Dwight and Kobe did what they both do best down the stretch and, maybe for the first time this season, we got a glimpse of both players at near peak powers controlling both sides of the floor the way they have so often for their entire careers. And man, was it a sight to see.

Darius Soriano

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43 responses to Kobe and Dwight Dominate Late, Lead Comeback

  1. I just wish, that one of these days Kobe will say “It was our defense that carried us, otherwise my scoring would not have meant much” as opposed to what he did say “I had to nudge them/put them on my back.”

    Oh well. Nitpicking. He can say whatever he wants as longs as we win.

  2. Lakers pull off a crazy win, and some of the teams we’re chasing lose? awwwww yeah!

  3. Holy $#!%…is all I have to say.

  4. Some day we won’t get to see Kobe put the team on his back. When that day comes, I will be sad.

  5. The repeated success of the Kobe-Dwight pick-and-roll harkened back to when Kobe and Pau would do the same in crunch time over and over.

  6. Watching Kobe and D12 in the 4th quarter just made my mouth water and wish that we had a complete team. If we had one, we could compete against anyone. It’s just too bad that the Lakers could trade our players for Howard’s team of players no one wanted (D12′s words not mine) (in particular JJ Reddick and Ryan Anderson) and add them to Kobe, Nash, Clark, Meeks, Hill, Jamison, MWP, Blake and Ebanks and we would have a perfect fitting, interchangeable team.

  7. @Harold: I don’t really understand you grube here. I think Kobe was very clear about praising Howard in his interview with Trudell right after the game. Pointing out he had several big blocks and that they “both did what they were supposed to do”, dominating at each their end, and pointing to the fourth quarter defense as the turning point…

  8. Just watching he extended highlights on YouTube – gotta love NewHDLakers24′s channel. But the way Howard gets up after being pushed to the floor in the third looks like a stiff old man… I’m really worried about him.

  9. BleedPurpleGold March 7, 2013 at 3:11 am

    @thedane: also my fav, checking it out every morning when i couldnt see my lakers cause i gotta go to work the next morning, games usually start around 3-4am in germany :(

    Anyway, great comeback win and great effort in the 4th….and boy would i like to see meeks playing this well the rest of the season, hes starting to play like he did in philly :) great to see, gives our bench a huge boost….now with him playing the way he recently does as well as jamison and blake playing solid bal, all we need is pau coming back for a nice 9-man-rotation in the playoffs….

    GO LAKERS!

  10. Kobe taking Lopez to school while dribbling only with his left hand was a thing of beauty. He is so damn talented. Wow!!! He may shoot too much sometimes and freeze his team mates out, but I wouldn’t trade that man for anyone in the game. He is the epitome of determination!!!

  11. Pretty telling how Howard is imitating Kobe’s “beast mode” face at 12:04 here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pi4YV9WFN40

    It is all in good spirits I think, also judging by the team mates reaction, enjoying the moment. But I think both Nash and Kobe find it a little hard to understand that Howard is not more in the moment, instead of joking about the situation.

    I think this shows exactly how fundamentally different these two playres are. Kobe spewing venom, while Howard just is more leaned back. He is pushing through injuries and pain, and I respect him for that. Not trying to rip him, just interesting to see the glaring difference.

  12. The Dane:

    Dude, can you just enjoy the moment for a second. As Darius said, they shouldn’t have been down, but they came back and won from 25 points down. Just enjoy the moment without the comparisons of who does what and how, just chill.

  13. Kobe update with all due respect to others;
    MJ FGA 24537 1072 games
    KB FGA 23985 1223 games

    552 to go.

  14. Mr. Kobe “The Warrior” Bryant, need I say more?

  15. Sorry, wrong link. It was at the 12:04 mark in the game against the Hornets: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ru7koOOTvZI

  16. Wow, wow and wow! During a time out in the 4th quarter I saw that it was Kobe doing the talking. And what a relief to see that Kobe and Dwight was in sync during that fourth quarter run. And after the game that high five between Kobe and Dwight while Kobe was saying “absolutely” gives us Laker fans on something to believe in.

    On the last inbound play by the lakers, I just find it odd/amusing that NOH guarded the lakers on the opposite side of the basket where they guarded their own basket.

  17. Funky Chicken March 7, 2013 at 7:12 am

    Spartacus, your last line is why I’m not jumping for joy over last night’s win. The Hornets are a simply dreadful team. Yes, the Lakers played great (for seven minutes) but N.O. gave the game away with unforced turnovers, missing easy shots, and probably the worst inbounds defense any of us have ever seen. Moreover, they let a turnover prone Kobe Bryant shred their defense while essentially playing left handed. As great as the Lakers played in the final minutes, that Hornet effort was without a doubt the worst 7 minutes of NBA basketball I have ever seen.

    A win is a win (and a win when your playoff competitors all lose is an even bigger win), but this team is still 2-15 against the top four teams in the west, so it’s a little hard for me to call a comeback win against maybe the worst team in the league a “turning point”.

  18. As I mentioned last night on the ‘Preview and Chat’ Board, that was an excellent, come from behind TEAM victory. In the 4th, Kobe displayed a beautiful all-around game, Dwight shut it down defensively and Meeks was that sniper that we envisioned upon acquiring him. With that being said, what appeared odd to me, and by no means am I trying to be disrespectful, is that during the 4th quarter comeback, not one time did I hear Nash’s name mentioned. Nor did I even recognize him on the floor. I guess I’m just accustomed to Nash, during runs such as last night’s, hitting a key three or distributing a pin-point pass to a cutting team-mate for a layup. Just an observation; it is what it is. Solid TEAM effort none the less and with Houston and Utah both losing, it just made last night’s win that much better.

  19. With back-to-back roadies against the Bulls and the Knicks, Utah can drop to 32-31 on Saturday. If the Lakers win against Toronto and Utah loses, the Lakers will find themselves tied for the 8th spot.

  20. Tra, I noticed that too. Kobe played PG and Nash was parked on the weak side to space the floor. I would have loved to have seen a drive and kick to him, but Kobe seemed to feel he always had enough space to get off the shot he wanted. Since it’s hard to argue with 7/8 in the 4th, I can live with decoy-Nash for one game, although I’d still prefer to see him more involved down the stretch. What concerns me more, frankly, is that MDA doesn’t seem to run offensive sets in crunchtime, but rather runs one clear out after another for Kobe (admittedly including a DH12 high screen) in a way that reminds me of the 1 on 5 McGrady offense when he was in Orlando.

  21. Lil Pau, MDA is running the right offensive plays late. You want him to run a play with Nash who was playing crappy last night?? Or you want him to run a play where MWP gets to touch the ball or Dwight??? I can understand questioning MDA’s defensive coaching but on offense I think y’all need to give the man some respect. Lakers are .500 not because of coaching but rather due to injuries.

  22. Speaking of Nash, I am confused why the media keeps giving the dude a pass. He was the reason we lost to OKC. The Missed wide open 3 late and that cross court pass he tried to make to a one handed Kobe doomed our comeback.

  23. Who knows how long he wants to keep doing this, but I really hope Kobe decides to play for the Lakers beyond next season.

  24. The only reason we won was because Phil Jackson called Dwight Howard after the third quarter and told him to play better. Also, he designed the last play. True story.

  25. Neil, I get the frustration but if you call Monty Williams a bad coach, you best back that up. I can link to dozens of writers with basketball experience, the love and effort to know the game combined with native intelligence. Not a one has said Williams is anything but a very good coach. So, while I disagree with your attitude towards this win, I think you need to look at a bigger body of work in Williams’ career then a sequence of bad plays. Show your work if you have the opinion that he is a bad coach.

    Here is why this win is a great win. The Lakers handicapped themselves with the big second half deficit. These things happen all the time in the NBA. Good to mediocre teams get beaten down by bad teams sometimes. What almost never happens? What almost never happens is a 25 point comeback. What almost never happens? A player going into Mamba mode. What almost never happens? Dwight Howard making dramatic plays to save the game for the Lakers. We got an entertaining sequence of events that led to an improbable win. Enjoy it.

    BTW, to Just Man, Nash did not “blow” the OKC game. The Lakers almost won that game in spite of being outclassed by the better team. Dwight could not get loose to get the ball. The inside defense of Collison, Ibaka and Perkins made it very hard to get Howard easy shots and the length of guys like Durant, Thebo, and Westbrook are very disruptive. While Dwight works through this injured period of his career he will have uneven results. Kobe was the focal point of the offense and Nash is being asked to be effective, at 39 years old, against a specimen like Westbrook after chasing Martin around the floor. Couple that with the primary release valve for the offense being 3-4 weeks away from returning to the court, just try and keep some perspective.

    This team needs to find a way to beat the teams they should beat, continue to find themselves as a unit, and then get humming when Pau is back. Nobody wants to face this team in the playoffs and this is looking more and more like the Lakers will at least punch a ticket into the first round. At this point, anything after that will be gravy. Again, enjoy it.

  26. Just Man: When I read your first post above, I thought you were Jim Buss in disguise. However your next post nixed that theory. I will give you credit for being pro-MD and anti-Nash, as most MD supporters are also Nashys. Your view makes more sense, because if Nash was still “all that” then it begins to be hard to say we don’t have a great roster (we do have a great roster by the way).
    MannyP: Thanks for the insight. To reply in kind, I heard that the Laker brass had a meeting following last night’s game. They liked what they saw and that the team was finally beginning to gel. They however decided we needed another 246 games to truly see whether the new system was working out. Until that time all evalautions based on results, are on hold.

  27. P. Ami, you’re right about Williams as a coach, and there is no doubt that last night was both entertaining and an impressive comeback.

    However, Neil’s “reality check” is largely spot on. This was a must win game. The Lakers came out and got blitzed the night before, with a horrendous first half against a great team, opening up a deficit they could not recover from. That raised the stakes for last night. So, with the playoffs hanging in the balance, coming off a loss and a 1 for 7 effort by their “franchise” center, the Lakers opened up a game against a dreadful opponent by giving up nearly 70 first half points on the way to a 19 point halftime deficit.

    From there, instead of the come to Jesus moment at halftime that produces a roaring third quarter comeback, the Lakers come out and managed to shave a whopping one point off the lead heading into the 4th. At that point we saw another disjointed 5 minutes before the final 7 minutes where the Lakers undoubtedly played great, but were greatly aided by the utter incompetence of their weak opponent.

    I like that the team hung in there and fought back, but it’s real hard for me to start seeing the green shoots of a new “turning point” in the season, or to proclaim the game a testament to the team’s character without also pointing out the utter lack of professionalism that caused them to nearly lose a must win game to an awful opponent. It’s great that they won, and better that they made up ground, but this is a team that is 2-15 against the conference’s top 4, that is now regularly giving up nearly 70 points in first halves of important games–even to really, really bad teams like the Hornets.

    None of this is to say we shouldn’t enjoy great performances, and Kobe’s game was one for the ages, but facts are facts, and there’s nothing about the way this team has played or is playing that should give anyone confidence that they will do anything in the playoffs if they get there. Because, as good as some people may feel today, it took a not to be repeated, herculean effort by a one-armed 17 year vet to avoid coming back from this trip 0-2 with the maybe the worst loss of the year.

  28. Over the last few threads I have read many posts on how this win doesn’t mean anything because N.O is a bad team. Well every team in the league has talented players. Sometimes that talent gets on a roll. This bad New Orleans team has beaten the Spurs, Clippers, Bulls, Rockets Celtics, Hawks and Grizzlies this year. They got off to the hot start because they have talent. They collapsed because they are young and inexperienced. Any win in the NBA is a good one. Remember the Heat pulled out a 1 point win against the Magic. A team with less talent then N.O.

  29. P. Ami,

    Very good post…well summarized…No one wants to be patient in this world, but it takes time to mesh all these talents and even more time if they are not a perfect fit. Add in injuries, new role players (Meeks and Jamison, who came in without a training camp with their ultimate coach) coaching changes and the inevitable soap opera associated with playing for the Lakers with all these expectations and you got what we got….17-25. For this team to bottom out and turn in a 14-6 record after that (while losing Pau along the way), even if the schedule was helpful with a bunch of games against lesser teams, is no small feat, as typically you can’t turn around the humiliation and discord associated with that kind of start, on a dime. Of course, without some miraculous efforts from Kobe this wouldn’t have happened, but by the same token, I guess thats why he gets paid the big bucks!

  30. Funky Chicken March 7, 2013 at 1:06 pm

    Michael, I think those of us cautioning against being too excited by last night’s win are saying a team that is desperately fighting for its playoff life (not the case in any of the games you cited as N.O. wins from earlier in the year) should not be overly praised for narrowly escaping what would have been one of their worst losses of the year.

    Good teams can be excused for not getting up for a bad opponent every so often; teams that are running out of time to qualify for the postseason don’t have that luxury, and should therefore receive more criticism when they play horribly against bad teams.

    The Hornets have the 5th worst record in the league (and 3rd worst home record). I think that qualifies as “bad” and it surely should be a team that a team with playoff aspirations should be able to beat without running their best (and near oldest) player into the ground by playing 24 of 24 second half minutes to eke out a win. The Lakers’ margin for error is so small, that they can’t be doing things like last night and letting poor teams run them off the floor for nearly 70 first half points. They got away with it last night, but barely.

  31. Teams play poorly. It happens. Last night, for most of the game, the Lakers played poorly. There were circumstances that contributed to that, but there usually are *whenever* a team plays that way. It should also be noted that the Lakers aren’t a particularly great team and lack consistency (at least right now). When looked at through that prism, being down big to nearly *any* team shouldn’t be a huge surprise and probably shouldn’t inspire much vitriol either.

    Do I think the Lakers showed fight in coming back to win? Yes. Do I think the Lakers will need to be better than they’ve been to make the playoffs and then be a threat once there? Yes again. I also think they have room to grow as a team and, of all the remaining teams battling for anything come playoff time have the most room between their current level of play and their actual ceiling. Whether they get anywhere near that ceiling remains to be seen, though.

    All that said, I’m happy about last night’s win for a variety of reasons but mostly because it was exciting! I run this site and am serious about my analysis of this team, but sometimes it just feels good to be a fan and enjoy the moments that make up the journey that is a long NBA season. For me, last night was one of those games.

  32. LosFelizLaker March 7, 2013 at 2:07 pm

    For some, including me, this game was ridiculously entertaining because coming back from an 18-point deficit in the fourth quarter is really hard and really rare. I think for some Lakers fans, nothing is allowed to distract them from jamming needles into their Jim Buss voodoo dolls.

  33. darius: kobe gets offensive. dwight gets defensive. sounds like a recurring theme but in a good way.

    and the timely making of shots other than the mamba made for drama all the way to the win column. credit to meeks. if these things did not happen last night, the conversation today would have taken on a life all on it’s own.

    like most soothsayers today, haven’t heard much from magic johnson lately. could be a good thing and yet we know dodger spring training is in full swing and is probably taking much of magic’s attention at the moment. monetary interest aside, we’re all committed to the lakers and to have other outside interests and hobbies at this time would be blasphemous. real jobs are exempt in that they provide the sustenanace and the means to enjoy laker life as we know it. we should all be committed and soon will be, but in a good way.

    come from behind games does wonders to the psyche.

    Toronto bringing in the big chill from up north. here’s hoping the lakers stay warm enough for another winnable game.

    Go Lakers

  34. Funky Chicken March 7, 2013 at 2:37 pm

    Darius, I generally agree with what you said, but for 41 minutes I did not find that to be an entertaining game. Instead, I (and I’m guessing most Laker fans) found it to be a painful game to watch.

    LosFeliz, many people here like to use Jim Buss as a punching bag. I’m not one of them. I think the front office did a great job this offseason considering what they had to work with (virtually no tradeable players, and no cap room). My reaction to last night’s game is less enthusiastic than others’ in large part because I found much of the post game chatter (Ireland on the radio, the Time Warner cable guys, and even some bloggers here) to be absurdly optimistic, with many people quick to call this the “turning point” in the season and an exhibition of great Laker character. We’ve seen many false turning points this year, and I can’t make a character assessment of a team based on a great 7 minute stretch without also factoring in a very, very bad 41 minute prelude….

  35. Funky,
    I’m not sure if this is what you’re implying, but I didn’t call the game entertaining. And I should add that I was pretty frustrated with the way the Lakers were playing for most of that game.

  36. Funky Chicken March 7, 2013 at 4:05 pm

    Darius, I conflated “exciting” with “entertaining” and assumed you would too. I think we’re on the same page here.

  37. Neil,

    We came out flat on the second night of a back to back on a road trip. Our front court rotation consists of one starting center, two bench power forwards, and one borderline starting SF (MWP). I’m so angry that this team gutted out a win.

    Funky Chicken,

    The Lakers are 2-14 against the top 4 in the west. True, true. But they’ve also been injured all season and now appear to be in better sync than earlier in the campaign. And when we get Pau back, all of this can change.

    Watch the games and enjoy. Why must we obsess with ranking this team as a failure or success. This roller coaster is the drama that makes sports worth watching. I enjoy watching Kobe will the team to victory 4 out of 6 times. Steve Nash putting up 20 points when everyone’s calling for his benching or retirement. Dwight Howard throwing a block and alterations party with a torn labrum (!) amid speculation of his imminent demise. Even if our season is a wash, there has been a lot to cheer for and enjoy, especially post all-star break. Why are so many pouting? This is a great season full of story lines and many yet to be written.

  38. Funky,
    Yeah, the win was exciting. The general flow of the game & performance up to the point of the comeback was bad. My overall point is that sometimes you just have to enjoy a win for a win (especially one that saw the Lakers do something teams almost never do) and worry about the big picture stuff another day. The Lakers issues are real and well documented. And I talk about that stuff all the time. But sometimes I just want to enjoy something exciting without someone telling me, in not so many words, “yeah, but….” and rattle off a bunch of things that we already all know. I mean, I acknowledged that stuff in the recap too.

  39. Funky we all know the Lakers issues, there is not hiding that, what gives me hope is the sync between Kobe and Dwight, i seen every Lakers game i missed like 2 probably 3 all season and im tellin you the way Kobe and Dwight controlled both sides of the court for those 7 or 8 minutes i never seen it before all season those minutes were championship basketball the troubles are not over and the flaws are still there but if somehow this team learn to get this kind of effort the whole game this team is a powerhouse. I never thought of this team as a lock down defensive team, hell the back 2 back teams were not that good defensively, but they made stops when needed. This win was dramatic and fun, sometimes we need to sit back and enjoy a win loke this and forget everything else. I do believe the Lakers stumble unto spmething though.

  40. Monty williams could ot get his team to stop the bleeding. Where was Davis? Stern should fire him

  41. Funky Chicken March 7, 2013 at 5:30 pm

    Ok, guys. I,too, enjoy a good game and a nice comeback. I’m not here to hate on the Lakers or to suggest that anyone not enjoy a win (and a pickup of a game over their two closest opponents). I’m just cautioning against the extrapolation of 7 phenomenal minutes into some kind of season-altering event. We’ve seen great stretches of basketball before, but as recently as 24 hours ago we were watching one of the worst performances of the year, which would indicate that all the previous “we’ve turned the corner” proclamations to have been wrong or premature….

  42. They all were wrong Funky, at best im a lil optimistc at best but if they can built on this you control this i control that thing, it will help a lot, If Dwight is more agresive on defense like that little stretch he is going to be rewarded. That was a blueprint right there i hope they build on it

  43. I think that people need to look at this game on two levels:

    1. The team deserves a lot of credit for the comeback. Going on a 20-0 run in the 4th qtr of a b2b on the road is praiseworthy, regardless of opponent. People who have their targets and scapegoats–MDA, Kobe, Nash, Howard–should own up and give everybody connected with the W credit for that.

    2. At the same time, as I said after the comeback W in Charlotte, the fact that the Lakers were down 25 to NO at all is, in and of itself, evidence that they are not an elite team and do not have a great roster. Elite teams have scares and losses,of course, but they also have a lot of games that are *not exciting* because they chew teams up and end games halfway through the 3rd quarter. San Antonio and Miami generally do this one or more times a week. People should not mix up “exciting” and “impressive.”

    The Lakers do now have a very good chance to catch Utah. Last night was important in that respect.