Archives For Game Recap

Box Score: Lakers 103, Nuggets 97
Offensive Efficiency: Lakers 110.8, Nuggets 104.3
True Shooting %: Lakers 63.3%, Nuggets 50.9%

For the fourth straight game, the Lakers were going to be without Kobe Bryant, who was still out with tuberculosis or whatever that shin injury is called. Looks like it was up to the other guys to step it up again. Also, Coach Mike Brown didn’t coach due to personal reasons. John Kuester, former Detroit head man, had the reins for tonight. I almost expected a mutiny.

And, yes, I totally expected Andrew Bynum to get 35 rebounds in this game.

The Good:
He didn’t. But Bynum ended up with 30 points and was actually efficient in his shooting. He went 11 for 19 on the field and he got to the stripe, too (8 for 11). Granted, it wasn’t exactly pretty early on for Bynum and we’ll get to that later. Oh, and he had eight rebounds. Disappointment.

Against San Antonio, it was Metta World Peace that achieved his Laker career high. Tonight? It was Matt Barnes. He scored 24 points and pulled down 10 caroms (tied for the Laker high!). Yeah, I’m kinda disappointed he doesn’t have much of the El DeBarge hairstyle anymore but he was certainly getting into the rhythm of the night. Barnes hustled everywhere and made all four of his shots behind the arc. They don’t win this game without his potent scoring (YES) and scrappiness. He should’ve worn a hockey mask tonight.

Speaking of Metta, he started off fast on the offensive end. He eventually ended the game with 14 points but his hands were a bigger factor today as he ended up with 5 steals. And he also grabbed 8 boards. The small forwards for the Lakers are kicking it into high gear.

Pau Gasol didn’t have the best scoring game (14 points) but he did have ten boards and three swats. He also helped move the ball around with 5 of the Lakers’ 25 assists. Ramon Sessions struggled but he had a decent line at 7-4-6. And Steve Blake had his third consecutive good game with 7 points, 3 assists, and 2 steals off the pine.

And, of course, Staples Center fans got tacos and the Laker fans on the internet got virtual tacos. Plus the Lakers clinched a playoff spot with the win so don’t panic about that!

The Bad:
Bynum continues to have his issues with double teams (his frustrations probably made him get lax on D in the first half). The Nuggets came back a few times when they started quintuple-teaming (relax… I could get hyperbolic) Bynum even before he receives the ball. Of course, when they stopped doing that, Bynum made them pay.

Andre Miller has a YMCA game that can never be beat. He had a 20-6-6 line. He’s virtually had the same game since he was in college and probably when he was 8 months old. It never ceases to amaze me. And Al Harrington always seems to do well against the Lakers. Al Harrington finished with 18 points and reminded everybody that turtles fight with honor.

The Spurs only had ONE offensive board in the previous game. Tonight? The Nuggets had EIGHTEEN (in overall rebounds, the Lakers still won, 45-40). The Lakers forgot to box out Manimal (Kenneth Faried) and Pierre (JaVale McGee). They combined for 11 offensive boards.

Also, I’d like to know the stats for most double-digit games blown in a season. I believe the Lakers lead in that department. They were up as many as 15 points. Oh, Lakers. You’re so Hollywood. You just have to keep making it dramatic. If I wanted drama, I’d go rewatch my Melrose Place DVDs.

Lastly, I was hoping JaVale McGee would do something moronic. He didn’t and he actually had a very good game (14 points off 7/9 shooting and 10 boards). Though his only misses on the field were critical tip-ins that were botched late in the game.

The Ugly:
Turnovers were the story. The Lakers ended up with 22 giveaways. Gasol had six and Bynum had four. What was maddening was their post entry passes. If messing up a post entry pass was a crime, we’d have a bunch of Lakers in jail now.

Also, it’s amazing that the Nuggets had SIXTY-EIGHT points in the paint. 68 out of their 97. The Nuggets had 21 fastbreak points so even without those, that’s still a ridiculous amount of points in the paint. How about that vaunted frontcourt, eh, Lakers? Oh, well. It was a good thing that the Lakers didn’t get into a shootout/track meet with the Nuggets because that would’ve been disastrous.

The Play Of The Game:
I will go with the steal and the dunk by MWP in the first quarter. It really shows that he’s healthy, too. Keep doing that thang.

The Lakers are now 1 1/2 games ahead of the #4 Clippers. At this point, they’re probably not going to get any higher than the third seed. So they’ll have to keep playing their ball and continue to have momentum as the playoffs inch closer. They may not have Kobe again in their next game. But it’s probably a good thing as his teammates gain more confidence and Bean gets some much-needed rest.

The Lakers’ next game is against the Mavericks on a Sunday matinee. Great. We all know how the Lakers do on a Sunday afternoon. If it doesn’t rain, maybe you’re better off chillin’ in the park and waiting for the sun to go down along with your homies…

Have a great weekend. Even with this ridiculous wind going on in Southern California.

Box Score: Lakers 98, Spurs 84
Offensive Efficiency: Lakers 110.1, Spurs 94.4
True Shooting %: Lakers 53.5%, Spurs 50.6%

The Lakers faced San Antonio for the first time this season. Kobe was still out. The Spurs rested Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili in the previous game so they would feel more fresh. We kinda joked that the Austin Toros would keep it close against the Lakers, who barely escaped the Hornets’ nest a couple of nights ago. What followed was a complete surprise.

The Good:
Andrew Bynum. Andrew Bynum. Andrew Bynum. THIRTY REBOUNDS IN THE GAME (easily breaking the season high in rebounds of 25 by Dwight Howard and… wait for it… Ersan Ilyasova!). Bynum absolutely owned the paint on both ends. Owned it so much that it felt like the single offensive rebound by the Spurs (yes, they only had ONE) was a pity board. But I suppose the Spurs can feel better that they would’ve outrebounded the Lakers if Bynum wasn’t there. The board count? The Lakers had a 60-33 whoopin’. SIXTY. 16-1 on the offensive boards, by the way. Of course, with Bynum’s domination on the boards, Pau Gasol looks lazy in comparison. Our favorite Spanish forward only had 11 rebounds. SLACKER.

Not only did Andrew Bynum get a career high in rebounds (Darius also noted that Bynum didn’t foul at all in the game!), but Metta World Peace had his best scoring game as a Laker. He scored 26 points and, at one point, made five straight field goals in the 3rd that included a series of fadeaway jumpers. He even made an old-school flat-footed 3-point set shot with the shot clock running down. Metta had smoke coming out of his fingers. I wish that Bill MacDonald knew his NBA Jam terms, though. Three in a row is not heating up, Billy Mac; that’s ON FIRE.

Pau Gasol had a terrible start, shooting-wise, but the Spurs got into even deeper water when Pau started making his jumpers in the 4th quarter. He had 21 points to end the game and, like Bynum, owned the paint as well. It’s just that we can’t appreciate Pau’s performance as much if Bynum (who also had 16 points) was basically being Pac-Man by eating rebounds as if they were ghosts.

Matt Barnes continued his hustle with 13 points, 6 boards, and 4 dimes. He also hit 3 3-pointers in the first half, which got most of us Laker fans afraid that they might depend on that 3 a little too much. But the ball rotation was so good that they had such good looks, we’d get mad if they didn’t take them. Steve Blake finished with 10-3-3 in his second consecutive good game, including a 3 that basically Austin 3:16’d San Antonio and the Laker fans that have been down (to put it kindly) on his game.

The ball movement was quite a sight. They had 23 assists on 40 field goal makes.

And the Lakers were swarming on D, particularly inside the paint. They made Tony Parker shoot difficult shots (2/12) and were getting in the face of most of their shots from inside to the midrange. The Spurs shot 40.7% overall and only scored 41 points after the half. San Antonio couldn’t deal with the Lakers’ size (insert terrible enlargement pills joke here).

Andrew Bynum and Metta World Peace should be able to listen to ‘N SYNC or Celine Dion as loud as they want in the locker room the next few nights after their fantastic performances. Steve Blake should’ve given Bynum the ball so he could shoot a 3 (I’m sure you guys noticed how Bynum ‘guarded’ Steve on the final seconds).

This feels like the most complete Laker game this season. Maybe tomorrow, Kobe Bryant will be amnestied.

The Bad:
The Lakers have had trouble covering the perimeter for years now and this is no exception. The Spurs hit 13 treys in the game but that was pretty much the only weapon the Spurs had.

Ramon Sessions (LATE EDIT: HAPPY BIRTHDAY!) was a little bit out of control even though he still had a decent game. Since the Lakers owned this game, I suppose we can give Sessions a pass with his four turnovers.

The Spurs did a great job fronting the post against the Lakers in the 2nd quarter. The Lakers had trouble with that for a while and if I was a San Antonio fan, I would wonder why they went away from that.

It’d be nice if the Lakers can kick teams while they’re down. When up 23, punch them in the face and go for a 30-point lead. When up 50, kick them in the groin and go for a 60-point lead. When up 127, leave C4s on their backs and go for a 180-point lead. You get the picture.

I’m also the last person to harp on referees (well, Darius might fight me to the death on this one) but the Spurs could Dragon Punch Andrew Bynum in the face and they still wouldn’t call a foul. Maybe they felt sorry for the Spurs.

The Ugly:
Good grief, Boris Diaw is a big boy. Imagine him dancing. Yeah, I thought you would like that image.

The Play Of The Game:
I will take MWP’s flat-footed three-pointer early in the fourth. That’s when you knew that everything was going right. You actually kinda wonder if Kobe’s spirit actually went inside Metta’s body. It was a sight to behold.

In a way, this game makes me angry. You saw how Bynum was so dominant on the glass. You kinda wish he would stop loafing around so he can average around 15 boards a game (30 boards a game?). It’s obviously a bit hard for Bynum to score with no Bean on the court but he has to be patient and not get so frustrated on both ends. Pass it out, repost, rinse, lather, repeat until a good shot comes along from the team. We all assume Bynum’s going to own this team beyond the Kobe Bryant era. Hopefully, he’ll figure it out. He’s a smart kid.

If this was any indication on how well the Lakers can play, the Spurs better know what they’re facing. They’re going to face each other twice more in the season. Of course, Gregg Popovich could just be a total jerk, kill a thousand people, then sit his stars down.

Meanwhile, the Lakers start a three-game homestand on Friday. They draw the Denver Nuggets. Of course, we would like to see the effort and execution they had earlier tonight against Ty Lawson and company. They can’t depend on Danilo Gallinari missed lay-ups and JaVale McGee bloopers that would make him an America’s Funniest Home Videos staple; the Lakers gotta bring it. With or without Kobe.

Enjoy the win. I know my dinner tasted better after that. Even if it was just a measly chicken sandwich.

Box Score: Lakers 93, Hornets 91
Offensive Efficiency: Lakers 113.4, Hornets 111.0
True Shooting %: Lakers 59.1%, Hornets 55.4%

The Lakers have lost two straight coming into this game against New Orleans. At this point, there are no sure wins for the Lakers, even if it’s against the team with the worst record in the Western Conference. Sure, Eric Gordon, Jarrett Jack, and Emeka Okafor were all out. But Phoenix killed the Lakers with Michael Redd, Shannon Brown, and Sebastian Telfair. To make things a little dicier, Kobe Bryant was out for the second straight game with that teno-shin thing. Well…

The Good:
If I had one game ball to give to, it would be to Ramon Sessions. Sessions finished with 17 points, 6 boards, and 6 assists. But y’all know he hit the 3-pointer that gave the Lakers enough cushion to win the game with 26 seconds left (which punctuated a 10-0 run late in the game). It was the same Pau Gasol back screen that got Kobe free against New Jersey last week.

You gotta give Pau Gasol some credit for carrying the offense. He scored 25 points from 10/21 shooting. Those jumpers looked so pretty today and worked the post like only he could. They don’t win this game without Pau (of course, it’d be nice if he can make some freethrows; 5/9 tonight for Pau).

Bynum was pretty frustrating to watch in the first half but he started passing out better on the double-teams in the second half. He ended the night with another double double with 18 points and 11 rebounds. He really has to get used to seeing that many double-teams in a game.

Steve Blake has been much-maligned for a while now and I don’t even blame the Laker fans for getting even more frustrated with him due to so many missed defensive rotations and assignments. But he continued to play scrappy, drew a couple of charges, and even made a couple of bank shots up close. Blake finished with 8 points and 4 assists. While it’s far from excellent, it’s his best game in a while and those are some encouraging signs.

Again, Metta World Peace has a flair for the dramatic. I can’t say enough on how many big plays he has made in the clutch this season. His 3-pointer with 1:31 left in the game took the lead for good for the Lakers. Of course, we’ll talk about his… um… questionable play later.

Matt Barnes did his usual dirty work with 9 points and 8 boards. And Devin Ebanks had some nice hustle plays. He scored 6.

Good job by the Lakers with the boards, too. 46-35 edge (12-8 on the offensive end). Pretty good considering the Hornets themselves have some big guys.

The Lakers will take the win. But my goodness, this is the Hornets we’re talking about here.

The Bad:
Most of these were open looks but the Hornets made an incredible 9 for 15 3-pointers. So many bad defensive rotations that had been typical as of late for the Lakers. Marco Belinelli scored 20 (4/7 3-pointers). Greivis Vasquez had 18 points and 11 assists. Vasquez, a 32 percent 3-point shooter, made 5 out of 6 behind the arc. How does this always happen… never mind.

Either the Lakers should go after Carl Landry this offseason or kidnap him and leave him in a dark cave. He scored 20 points, grabbed 11 boards, and dished out 5 assists against them. They couldn’t stop him in the second quarter, where he scored 12 straight points for N’awlins.

The Lakers were also very careless with the ball early on (Al-Farouq Aminu had 3 steals in the first quarter). Good thing they took care of the ball later on but things looked very grim from the start because of it. They eventually settled down to have only 12 turnovers. Of course, the Laker defense, being as threatening as a poodle these days, only forced 7 turnovers.

For much of the first half, the Laker offense looked discombobulated. I felt drunks could execute an offense better (while the outstanding Mark Medina from the L.A. Times tweeted and asked how did I know if they were sober). But it was hard to watch for a while. So much sloppiness and settling.

By the way, MWP. Maybe you shouldn’t roll an inbounds pass to the Hornets frontcourt up 2 with 1.2 seconds remaining. That might be a good idea.

And, no, Jason Smith didn’t tackle anybody.

Give the Hornets credit, though. They played very, very hard.

The Ugly:
You know what’s good torture? Try tying up someone to a chair and make him watch the first half of this game while Justin Bieber’s music is playing in the background the entire time. He would probably die before he could sing, “Baby, baby, baby, ohhhhhh!”

The Play Of The Game:
The Ramon Sessions 3 with 26 seconds left to pretty much put the game out of reach. As mentioned, it was basically the same play that got Kobe Bryant free for a 30-footer against New Jersey that put THAT game away. Great stuff.

It’s the first of three games between Lakers and the Spurs on Wednesday. Not sure if Kobe will play but I wouldn’t mind another holdout just so he can rest more of his tired legs. As of this writing, the Spurs are playing the Jazz without Tony Parker, Tim Duncan, and Manu Ginobili so we don’t know if the Spurs will still have their winning streak intact.

I know us Laker fans will say that the Lakers should’ve beaten the Hornets by a thousand (including me, yes). But it’s just been such a hard season for them that the Lakers and the fans should just take every victory at this point in the game. I just want some momentum for the Lakers going into the postseason. Hopefully, they do well against them old rivals, the San Antonio Spurs, in the next two weeks or so.

Now comment away. Talk about how better of a coach you’ll be than Mike Brown. Talk about how Kobe Bryant looks extremely dapper in his suit. And talk about how Gustavo Ayon from the Hornets looks like a Create-A-Player from NBA2K12. I’m going to get dinner and watch Monday Night Raw. Ciao!

Box Score: Lakers 105, Suns 125
Offensive Efficiency: Lakers 110.5, Suns 131.6
True Shooting %: Lakers 52.0%, Suns 63.4%

The outlook went from bad to worse with Kobe becoming a late scratch in this game due to… uh… tenosynovitis. In other words, his shin is bothering him. Meanwhile, the Suns are fighting for a playoff spot. And the last time the Lakers were in Phoenix? The Suns absolutely plastered them. And no Kobe? Definitely an opportunity for the Suns.

In the meantime, it was up to Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol to hold down the fort. Meanwhile, Mike Brown surprised everybody by starting Devin Ebanks. Remember him? The guy hasn’t had meaningful minutes in months. What about Andrew Goudelock? Hello? Anybody there?

This may seem all over the place. I apologize in advance for this.

The Good
I had some fantastic fried chicken.

The Bad
The Suns scored 125 points. It may very well have been 125,000.

Phoenix did everything to them. The Lakers got beat by penetration. The Lakers couldn’t defend the pick-and-roll. They didn’t close on the shooters. The Suns killed them in transition. And to show how inept the defense was, the Suns only turned the ball over three times. THREE TIMES. In this frenetic pace. Unbelievable. The Lakers tonight were like a bunch of drunk girls in a bar. It was a score every time for Phoenix.

Andrew Bynum didn’t have the legs tonight. Most of his shots were short. He got blocked multiple times early. I thought he seriously was going to shoot 50 times after a 4/14 first quarter (he ended at 10 for 27 with 23 points). He did have 18 boards, at least, but it was really noticeable that he looked out of it.

Pau Gasol had 30 and 13. He knocked down pretty much every jumper in the 4th in a late run. He did what he could on the offensive end. But just like every other Laker, he had trouble rotating and contesting shots.

Ramon Sessions has to be bothered by that shoulder injury. He played only 29 minutes, when he had been getting 35+ as of late. I did notice that he had trouble going left again, which is supposed to be a strength of his. He did have 11 and 9 but he got beat on D, too (which is not his strength).

I mentioned closing out on shooters. The Suns were 14 for 29 from deep. The Lakers only made 1 out of 9. That’s a 39-point difference from behind the arc.

Shannon Brown (20 out of his 24 points in the 3rd) and Michael Redd (23 points) went crazy from the perimeter. I suppose there wasn’t much you can do about that. But I would still like to see more effort on the defensive end.

If there’s any silver lining to this, those names are Devin Ebanks and Metta World Peace. Devin Ebanks did well in his starting role as he hustled for offensive boards and cut to the basket hard. He had 12 points. MWP could’ve been more of a factor if he didn’t get into foul trouble. He was killing in the post. Peace had 19 points from 8/10 shooting.

But once again, this was just a classic SSOL show by the Suns. Hell, if Bassy Telfair is scoring 13 points, you definitely deserve to lose. And I didn’t even mention Steve Nash yet (13 points and 11 assists)!

The Ugly
BENCH POINTS. Suns 58, Lakers 10. Suns had 40 bench points by halftime.

I’m not even going to bother with the play of the game because this was just a horrid, horrid loss. It started out sloppy to begin with to the point you thought you were watching a glorified pick-up game. And you know that this helter-skelter kind of play favors the Suns. When it eventually, uh, settled down, the Suns played that chaotic ball like only they can. Yes, the Lakers were leading at the end of 1, 32-24. But that tempo favored the Suns right from the get-go.

I’ve defended Coach Brown all year and most people have clamored for Andrew Goudelock. I am not the Laker coach and I don’t know the method to his madness (his rotations seem more random/worse than the “auto” substitution mode in NBA2K12). He may have to go to Goudelock at some point but I’m not sure if that necessarily “changes” the game. But what I do hope is that he drills into the heads of his players that they have to play defense. It just keeps getting worse and worse. Kobe or no Kobe, they can make up the lack of offense (which didn’t seem to trouble them tonight) by playing good, hard-nosed defense. And they haven’t either given as much effort as they should have or they’re not making smart plays on the defensive end.

At least, Andrew Bynum didn’t get thrown out of the game?

Well, guys and gals, it’s Saturday night. Move along, knock back a few, and hope they get it together on Monday.

Box Score: Lakers 107, Rockets 112
Offensive Efficiency: Lakers 108.1, Rockets 113.1
True Shooting %: Lakers 58.2%, Rockets 60.3%

Lakers had a four-game winning streak coming into this while the Rockets are fighting for their playoff lives. Also of note? The Rockets won their last meeting against the Lakers. L.A. hoped for a different result but it was more of the same, if anything.

The Good:
This was Metta World Peace’s best offensive game this season. He had 23 points and seemed like one of the few Lakers that had energy the entire game. He was killing the Rockets in the post, had about three nifty left-handed lay-ups, and was even a playmaker at times. Too bad, the effort was wasted.

Matt Barnes didn’t have a great shooting game (1/9 with 3 points) but he did all the other things (13 boards and 4 assists). Keep hustling, Barnes.

I liked that Kobe Bryant didn’t try to have too much of a duel with Chandler Parsons, although I’m sure Parsons irritated him. He scored 28 points and made all 11 of his foul shots. Didn’t do much else but he got his points.

And I did like that the Lakers attacked inside tonight. They had a 36-22 advantage in freethrows and, overall, they scored 56 points in the paint. It probably would’ve been more if a certain center didn’t get ejected earlier tonight. Again.

The Bad:
Another double-digit lead lost. Ho hum.

Maybe it shows in their heavy schedule but most of the Lakers didn’t have the energy tonight, particularly in the first and the third quarters. And it’s only going to get worse because they have another game tomorrow night. But I digress.

Maybe it was also the injuries. Kobe had a bad shin. Ramon Sessions had a bad left shoulder (he clearly had trouble going left tonight). But the defense was non-existent once again… and the Rockets baited them into playing fast at times. It’s fun to see the Lakers convert on some fastbreaks but transition D is not a strength the Lakers have. The Rockets definitely took advantage of that.

Luis Scola went wild with 25 points against the Lakers tonight. He was money no matter who took on him earlier (whether it’s Gasol or Ron… and I’d like to apologize for calling Gasol a non-factor against the Clippers the other night; I was wrong). Goran Dragic went wherever he pleased on the court; he ended up with 26 points and 11 assists.

So what about Andrew Bynum?

I find Bynum’s personality amusing. This is not one of those times. Not getting the calls he wanted and getting shoved by Samuel Dalembert? Yes. Irritating. I don’t blame him for being angry. But at the same time, he’s gotta keep his composure. His second technical where he got called for taunting wasn’t even directed at Dalembert; it was directed at the bench. In a close game where Bynum was needed, he does this once again (against the Rockets once again, yes). He didn’t have the greatest of games, either; he had turned the ball over 5 times. But he was certainly on his way in terms of making a difference. He had 19 points at that point in the game. Keep your composure. Listen to Ace Of Base or whatever you listen to on Club 17 during timeouts. Calm down.

That may have very well cost them the game. But they still had a chance to win. Of course, if they bothered to guard jumpshooters all game long, they wouldn’t have been in this position. Give the Rockets credit for outhustling the Lakers (even if they were outboarded, 48-35).

Yes, the defense once again. 112 points by the Rockets. The Rockets probably likened this game to a 7-11. They were open all day. And probably got extra smoothies on top of it, too.

And Chandler Parsons (13 points, including a big 3 near the end of the game, and a superb job guarding Kobe)? For a rookie, he’s got grapefruits. Props to him.

The Ugly:
Lakers had 13 bench points. Expected. But I didn’t know what else to put under here.

The Play Of The Game:
I don’t have much to choose from, especially after a Laker loss. But you can take your pick between one of the two Josh McRoberts alley-oop dunks. Those did get the crowd going, at least.

Remember the days when the Staples Center was a security blanket for the Lakers? Me, neither. They’ve lost 4 games at home since the trading deadline after only losing 2 before that.

It doesn’t stop for the Lakers. They have Phoenix tomorrow night on the road, where they got plastered earlier in the season. At the end of the road trip, they play the Spurs for the first time this year (a three-game series with the Spurs in 10 days, really). That’s going to be a real test for the Lakers.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. They may not even win against Phoenix AND New Orleans. Maybe Andrew Bynum may actually not get ejected in those games. That’s a step towards maturity.

Box Score: Lakers 113, Clippers 108
Offensive Efficiency: Lakers 121.5, Clippers 116.1
True Shooting %: Lakers 63.1%, Clippers 54.3%

You can call it a rivalry if you want. But a lot was definitely on the line. Who was going to get a stranglehold on the Pacific Division? The Lakers had won three straight (albeit against weak competition) coming into this game while the Clippers had won six straight, their longest since 1992. Well…

The Good:
Cool beans. Kobe Bryant.

I like the Kobe Bryant of April 2012. Doesn’t try to do too much. He lets the game come to him. He lets the other guys do most of the work. And he only strikes when needed. And, boy, did they need his strike today. His last jumper with Randy Foye draped all over him put them up 4 with 24 seconds left. His line was also efficiency personified. 31-5-6. 13/19 shooting. Only 2 turnovers. That was magnificent. It hit me hard; made me lose my breath.

Andrew Bynum just beat up the Clipper frontline on the offensive end all day. There were times where you can still see him loaf around on defense but I will take his 36 points from 13/20 shooting seven days of the week. It’s like he got the star from Super Mario Brothers; no Clipper could touch him, much less defend him.

Ramon Sessions had a pretty good all-around game, too. He continues to pad the stat sheet with 16 points, 6 boards, 8 assists, and 2 steals. His basket where he tapped on DeAndre Jordan with 47 seconds left was a huge basket as well. Chris Paul had a fantastic game himself but Sessions did his best to keep up. This performance is certainly better than what you’re going to get from previous Laker point guards.

Metta World Peace should also get props for taking on CP3 late when Lakers got caught with a switch on Paul. That little wrinkle prevented the Clippers from doing further damage. MWP also made some key baskets (and that key steal from Paul!) that stopped runs from the Clips. He has come up big this season in terms of making big plays, whether it’s a 3-pointer or a stop.

I also like that they played a relatively clean game on the offensive end. They didn’t get their first turnover until the second quarter and they only ended up with 11.

Big, big win by the Lakers. Clips can have all the highlights that they want but, in the end, it’s about winning. One of the more satisfying Laker victories in this up-and-down season.

The Bad:
Stop switching.

Chris Paul made life hell for the Lakers when he would get the bigs to switch on him. Leaving Paul with either Pau Gasol or Bynum in an island is not the ideal situation for the Lakers. Paul made them pay in those few minutes he got the desired switch. Luckily, Metta recognized it and took on Paul himself down the stretch.

The defense continues to regress for the Lakers. 108 points scored tonight by the Clippers. The Lakers didn’t play intense defense until late in the game. It would’ve been nice if they could force more than 10 turnovers. They certainly couldn’t stop the Clippers in transition. That let the Clippers back into the game. Losing big leads have become a Laker signature as they once again played it down to the wire. Maybe the Lakers should propose to cut the games down to three or even two quarters so that they don’t lose big leads like this.

None of the Lakers got double digits in rebounds (Bynum led the team with 8). The Clippers outrebounded them, 46-44… but killed them on offensive boards, 18-12 (Blake Griffin had 7 offensive boards). Box out, gentlemen. It’s good for your game.

It’s difficult when someone like Caron Butler is making contested shots. But that doesn’t mean you should leave him open also. Butler went off for 28 points (didn’t score in the 4th, though, because Vinny Del Negro chose to sit him out longer than he should… but check out Clipper blogs if you want to break THAT down). Even if he’s making shots, make life difficult for him.

The Ugly:
I didn’t think it was possible for someone to die twice… but Pau Gasol got killed by two Blake Griffin dunks today. The first one was a putback smash in the first quarter and the second one was in the third quarter where Blake just absolutely hammered the manhood out of him. Pau tried his best to play it off like it didn’t bother him but he was really never the same after the second plastering. Gasol was, for the most part, a non-factor with 12 points. Though he had a nice block late in the game (THANKS, JODIAL!).

The Play Of The Game:
I told you. That Kobe shot. I couldn’t even do that on a video game. Well, except maybe if you play AS Kobe in NBA2K12 or NBA Courtside.

Also, Bynum getting the ball under the basket at the end of the 3rd… only for him to back up to the 3-point line and shoot from behind the arc? Hilarious. That would’ve been easily THE play of the game if he made it.

The Lakers are now 2 1/2 games up on the Clippers. It really should be 3 1/2 because they also own the tiebreaker by virtue of winning this game as they win the season series, 2-1. I really do hope they face each other at some point in the playoffs because this game was undoubtedly fun. Right now, I’m going to enjoy this win and not worry about any upcoming drama or games for the next 24 hours. Or few minutes.

If you want to worry about the next Laker game NOW, they’ve got Houston at Staples next. Houston beat them the last time they faced each other. Yeah, the same game where Bynum got ejected and gave high-fives to the people there after the ejection. Now that the Lakers have won four in a row, I’m sure expectations have been tempered once again? Yes? No?

In the meantime, I’ll just enjoy this win. And you should, too. Enjoy it like you just received your very first video game console.

Box Score: Lakers 104, Rockets 107
Offensive Efficiency: Lakers 114.3, Rockets 117.6
True Shooting %: Lakers 60.1%, Rockets 62.3%

So much for momentum after that terrible home loss against the Utah Jazz. Maybe they only turned it over 23 times in 3 quarters in this game! And maybe Kobe Bryant made four shots to improve upon his three made field goals from Sunday. Well…?

The Good
I suppose we’ll get the good news out of the way first. Ramon Sessions was so good that he stayed until the end of the game (more on that later). Ramon had 14 points and 4 assists as he pushed the tempo, burned people that guarded him, found his teammates, and ran some good pick-and-roll sets. When he came in halfway through the 3rd, the Lakers were down by 1. He didn’t come out of the game after that and he helped push the Laker lead to 95-83 in the 4th. That game should’ve been in the bag, right?

Pau Gasol was very productive with 21 points (although only 4 rebounds). Of course, I expected him to be a more prominent part of the offense in the waning minutes but…

And that 40-point 1st quarter was fantastic (their highest-scoring quarter this season). THAT should’ve put the game away but…

Jordan Hill also made his debut! I suppose that’s also a good thing. And then he got packed.

The Bad
The late-game sets for the Lakers have been as predictable as WWE; they go to Kobe Bryant at the end. It’d be nice if he can call his number as a decoy once in a while. Maybe they panicked because Andrew Bynum was not in the game. You know? ANDREW BYNUM GOT EJECTED in the THIRD QUARTER. Bynum should know better than to talk Mass Effect 3 or whatever the hell he was talking about to the referee (though I kinda don’t get why the ref would eject him as he was ALSO engaged in the conversation). The most recent Western Conference Player of the Week got ejected in a close, road game. Can’t do that.

Ramon Sessions was fantastic while he was in there so I don’t understand the need to go away from him at the end of the game as if he has chicken pox. Isn’t the reason why Sessions was acquired so that Kobe wouldn’t have to handle the ball as much? So much for that. After that aforementioned 95-83 Laker lead, Sessions might as well have watched American Idol because he was not involved in the last 6+ minutes, PERIOD.

Oh, yeah. Kobe Bryant playing hero ball. 10 for 27 at the end for 29 points. These weren’t just wide open misses. A lot of these were forced shots. Come on, Kobe. We know you’re great but geez. Stop it.

The Rockets outrebounded the Lakers, 40-31. I’d like it if the Lakers can put some effort into boxing out. Luis Scola tipped in a missed Rockets freethrow for crying out loud. Sure, Andrew Bynum was ejected and all… but Pau certainly didn’t help the cause by only having four more rebounds than me tonight.

Other things? Playing the high screen-and-roll wrong with Steve Blake getting caught at the sideline (which resulted in Courtney Lee… she sounds hot… steals and dunks seconds later). Bad perimeter defense, especially at the end (3-pointers by Chandler Parsons, Goran Dragic, and Lee). And, of course, that 3-point stab by Dragic that took a 104-101 lead with 28 seconds left. Yeah. I don’t know what else to say now. The offense was mostly stagnant other than the first quarter and when Sessions was making that second half push.

As for the Rockets production? Lee killed the Lakers all night (23 points). Dragic had an awesome floor game (16 points and 13 assists). Luis Scola was steady at 23 points, even though the Lakers were doing their best Derek Fisher tribute on him. Even in the 1st quarter, the Rockets were scoring at will. It was just overshadowed by the Lakers dropping a 40.

At least, 14 turnovers is better than 24?

The Ugly
Well, I just wanna say this: I don’t know what’s worse (or uglier). Either the fact that this is the 3rd road game in a row where they had a double-digit lead and lost… or that they couldn’t beat a Rockets team without Kevin Martin (their leading scorer) AND Kyle Lowry (the point guard the Lakers targeted for a while).

The Play Of The Game
That fastbreak in the second quarter where Kobe Bryant did a bounce pass to a cutting Metta World Peace. I can’t believe MWP dunked it.

I’m annoyed. You saw the ugly section. The last four losses the Lakers had were very winnable games (DET, WAS, UTA, HOU). The Lakers get a dynamic PG in Ramon Sessions, only for him to just coolrelax in the last few minutes. I kinda wish they wouldn’t pack the paint as much when the Rockets were playing the perimeter more. And I wish Mike Brown would go to players other than Kobe during crunch time. It’s just all very frustrating. And, tomorrow night, they got the Dallas Mavericks. So we only have tonight and tomorrow morning to complain.

Strangely enough, the Mavericks haven’t beaten the Lakers this season in two games. So maybe this is a good sign? No?

So just chill… ’til the next episode.

(Also… the last seven games I was scheduled to recap, the Lakers have won. They lost today. So, yes, you are free to blame me as well.)

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.

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?

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.

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 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.