For one night, I don’t care that the Lakers started out slowly when they needed to come out crisp and with better effort. I don’t care that the defense still has too many holes and that they don’t get the stops that they need over the course of the game. I don’t care about the lack of adjustments, the turnovers, or the missed three pointers by the role players. I don’t care that they were down most of the game to another lottery bound team.
I. Don’t. Care.
The Lakers aren’t a perfect team. Far, far from it. They have countless flaws, are banged up, and are so up and down Six Flags is going to model their next roller coaster after their season. They’re the 9th seed for a reason — actually for many reasons — and the team we all hoped they’d be when they were assembled last July is not the team we see in front of us today.
Right now, though, I don’t care.
What we were witness to against the Raptors was fun. In its own way, it was special. Kobe Bryant stared down another opponent and came up huge with another night where he defied the wear on his body to put up 41 points with 12 assists. He hit so many big shots and had so many big plays, it’s impossible to pick one out as the best.
Dwight Howard affected the game on both sides of the floor and made countless defensive plays and tallied 24 huge points of his own to go along with 13 rebounds and 5 blocks. He screened hard and defended the paint even harder down the stretch. He slipped into open space on O and finished well around the hoop. He was great.
Steve Nash, en route to a 22 point night of his own, hit a gigantic three pointer to put the Lakers in position to even claim a win after falling down in overtime. And while most of his best work was done off the ball as a spot up shooter, he did enough in this game to keep the defense honest helping himself and his teammates in the process.
Most of the game wasn’t pretty. Most of the game it looked like the Lakers would fall flat and not take advantage of having a winnable game on their schedule. But down the stretch, when they needed to rally, they did it. They dug deep, hit some amazing shots, got some key stops, and stole a win.
So, the real analysis can wait a day. It can wait because tonight, I’m just a fan. I’m a fan cheering for Kobe as he made remarkable shot after remarkable shot. I’m a fan cheering for a Dwight Howard who is playing more and more like the guy from Orlando. I’m a fan cheering for Steve Nash as he continues to evolve in his role and hit key shots. I’m a fan cheering on a team that doesn’t always make it easy, but never quits trying until the final buzzer.
Enjoy this one, folks. The night didn’t start out well and it looked like it would stay that way through the end. But this team did the miraculous and pulled out another win when they had no business doing so. The long term analysis can wait until another day, because the short term has my heart pounding and my head buzzing.