It hasn’t been a good season for the Los Angeles Lakers. We all know this. It has been chronicled every which way and will be chronicled some more before all is said and done. Some nights are are still about the win however and sometimes even more. The Lakers opened and closed the game strong, preserving a chance to make the playoffs. And to Mark Cuban’s great consternation, they basically ended that same chance for the Dallas Mavericks.
If ever there was a time for this year’s model to show up it was last night – Shaq was in the house to have his jersey retired, Phil Jackson was there to present the honors and Jerry West and other Laker legends were there as well to watch, witness and smile. There were subtexts aplenty and a shaky start to the third quarter as Dallas went on a run – I don’t even want to contemplate what a loss would have felt like given the circumstances. Credit Earl Clark for generating a run of his own – the Lakers did plenty of things right in the fourth and won it in a romp.
Dave McMenamin for ESPN, on Kobe’s maxed-out minutes – he’s had a total of 79 seconds rest on the bench over the past two games.
Ramona Shelburne for ESPN, on Dwight stepping up in crunch time and the challenges posed by Shaq.
On a night that saw fans cheering loudly for Phil Jackson, Kelly Dwyer for Ball Don’t Lie credits Shaquille for keeping things on point with a classy speech.
Drew Garrison for Silver Screen and Roll, recapping the Lakers win and Kobe’s triple-double.
Marc J. Spears for Yahoo Sports writes about the respect that Kobe Bryant now has for his former foe.
Kurt Helin for ProBasketballTalk, on Mark Cuban and his ‘first housewife’ dig at Phil Jackson.
Brian Kamenetzky for the Land O’Lakers, relives an iconic Kobe-to-Shaq moment in Game 7 of the 2000 Western Conference Championship against Portland, with a classic Chick Hearn narration.
Serena Winters for Lakers Nation provides post-game clips from Kobe Dwight.
It was the closing seconds of the game and the Lakers were up by a ton. There was virtually no chance the Mavericks were going to mount a serious challenge – their plodding hack-a-Howard had run its course and failed to make a difference. Kobe was still in the game though and while his motivation to play so much and so spectacularly is understood, the question still becomes at what cost and why the gamble? The Los Angeles Lakers have been absolutely decimated by injuries this year. They are flying into the home stretch on shredded wings and fuselage.
Seven games left. The same win/loss record as Utah but the Jazz hold the tiebreaker. Thankfully, the Lakers have a couple days to rest before facing Memphis on Friday. Hopefully, Steve Nash will be back for the last leg of a season that has left most observers scratching their heads. Buckle them up for the end of a bumpy ride.