Sometimes a game doesn’t quite stick to a script. Sometimes, even when one team is overmatched, a game is close because the team that probably shouldn’t play that well actually does. They make shots, play hard despite having countless reasons to fold up their tent, and compete all the way until the final buzzer. Against the Lakers, the Wizards were that scrappy, shot sinking team that battled all night. In the end though, they didn’t have enough to close the talent gap as the Lakers dispatched them 115-108. The Lakers have now won their second straight game, though not in the convincing fashion it seemed they would at the end of the 1st quarter.
From my seat, this game was both frustrating and fun. It was frustrating because the Lakers had countless chances to bury the Wizards but could never quite put them away. Every time the Lakers looked poised to push the lead into the twenties, the Wizards hit a run stopping shot or the Lakers turned the ball over or flubbed a defensive assignment and allowed the game to stay within striking distance. The Wizards big run came at the end of the third quarter when they outscored the Lakers 16-1 to cut their deficit to 3 points.
Playing mostly against the Lakers’ defensively challenged (at least on this night) reserves the Wizards hit shot after shot, mostly of the deep two or three point variety. They did mix in some solid drives to the hoop and got some second chance points, but they mostly were just launching jumpers that fell through the hoop. In classic Phil Jackson style, he let the bench try to sort out their issues but it never really happened as the Wizards just continued to chip away. The Lakers just couldn’t find that defensive rhythm as Nick Young, John Wall, and Gilbert Arenas all found ways to find the cracks in the Lakers’ D. Reserve PF Trevor Booker also had a very good night by attacking the glass and running the court hard to get buckets in transition.
But despite the Wizards’ success in keeping the game close, there were few moments where the Lakers weren’t in control of the game. Led by the masterfully technical moves of Kobe, the fantastic efficiency of Lamar, and the all around play of Pau, the Lakers kept the Wizards at arms length for most of the contest.
Kobe brought out his full arsenal of pivots, spins, step throughs, and drop steps to work over every defender that Washington threw his way. Kobe scored 32 points on 23 shots and would have had a much more efficient night if not for his poor marksmanship from distance (1-6 on three pointers). But his three ball accuracy issues aside, Kobe was fantastic on offense nearly all night as he consistently picked apart the Wizards with dazzling displays of footwork and nifty finishes with both hands. And when he wasn’t setting up defenders for his own shot, he was setting up his teammates as he modestly tallied 3 assists that could have easily been 6 or 7 had some easy shots fell or had players caught the ball cleanly on his delivery.
As for Gasol, the big Spaniard started slowly but found his groove as the game went on. Making only one of his first six shots really didn’t put a damper on his night as he converted on six of his next twelve to score 21 points on 18 shots (also sinking 7 of his 8 FT’s). He also grabbed 14 rebounds (9 offensive!) and dished out 8 assists, falling only two dimes short of a triple double.
Not to be outdone by his front court mate, Lamar Odom also had a very strong showing on the evening. For the 2nd consecutive game, Odom was highly efficient making 8 of his 12 field goal attempts to finish with 24 points while grabbing 7 rebounds. Odom was active in the paint and in when changing ends from defense to offense, consistently out running the Wizards to get in position to either get an easy basket off a feed from a teammate or by pushing the ball himself against a defensively challenged Washington team.
Again, this game was both frustrating and fun. There were highlight reel plays multiple times over from both sides and plenty of moments that made the crowd appreciate the fact they had a ticket to the game. John Wall was as quick as advertised, showed a decent jumper, and had a couple of big blocks (one on Kobe and another in the open court on Fisher that got a loud response from the crowd). Nick Young also dazzled in his LA homecoming by knocking down several deep shots (while also ignoring his ‘mates by what became an almost comical aversion to passing). But in the end, the Lakers were just too much. They carved up the Wizards defense and got an easy shot nearly every time they showed the patience to make more than two passes on a possession. Defensively, this game left much to be desired as the Wizards shot 50% from the field but it’s hard to harp on the D too much when many of the shots that fell were of the long jumper variety that you want a team taking. This may not have been the Lakers prettiest win and I’m sure the film will show several things that the coaches can use as teaching moments (especially in the 3rd quarter run that the bench gave up), but when a team can take their opponents best night (at least on offense) and still come out victorious it should be considered a good night. I’m not going to lose any sleep over how the result came about, only be pleased that the desired result came about at all. Next month, no one will remember that the Wiz pushed the Lakers or that this game was harder than it should have been. All we’ll remember is the W in the ledger.
i love games like this – this is what reminds you what the game is all about as it is no fun watching a team win really easily (unless that team is the underdog of course!)
Thanks for the recap. The Lakers ball movement in the 1st quarter was absolutely beautiful, I thought. So many times it’s impressive. I have to give it to the Wiz for staying with it, competing, not folding, and keeping the game in reach. I kept on waiting for it to turn into a blowout, but it never happened…. I’ll take the W. Very interested to see how Blake Griffin is going to do against our front line tonight, and wondering who is going to get posterized!
Sure, the Wizards shot the ball extremely well, but from what I could tell most of those shots were uncontested. In the NBA, even the bad players are paid to make wide-open jump shots.
The fact is while the Lakers played pretty well on offense (aside from some showboating that caused them to mess up some fast breaks), their defense has been far below par.
Ive said this before, but in most of the games I’ve watched over the past 3 weeks, it just seems easier for the other team to get a shot up than us. Our guys work like crazy to get something nice, and the other team can run a 1:4 screen at the top of the key every time and be wide open.
That is definitely something to be concerned about.
I dont know about fun to watch if you caught the 4th quarter like I did, more like I cant believe what Im seeing. Hopefully with Bynum back next week and LO resuming his role as a 6th man. The bench will be more consistent and less of the Jekyl and Hyde unit we have seen of late.
Ahh the return of the Big China Cabinet, since Pau has logged so many minutes this early in the season now is the best time for Yung Drew to return. Bynum will get plenty of touches in the paint to satisfy his appetite as Pau will hopefully be able to rest for longer stretches of time. The lithmus test is how well the two coexist on the court as their chemistry was just coming around at the end of the season. Will that carry over to this season with little time together on the court this season?
Phillip Barnett says
Morning links are up:
Darius Soriano says
#4. No denying there were moments of frustration (Kobe and LO’s jumpers early in the clock in the closing minutes come to mind), but overall I enjoyed this game. The second half was a bit ragged, but the Wiz fought to make it that way as much, or more, than the Lakers gave it away.
chris h says
last night it felt like an all-star game, or the globetrotters vs the generals, ie; very little D.
but it was fun to watch, and I’m glad it wasn’t a blow out, or else we’d have to worry about 2 blow outs in a row, leading to a big head, and not taking the Clips serious. the Clips have beaten the Spurs, and some other good teams, so I’m expecting a very hard fought game tonight.
also last night, anyone else catch the “dirty look” PJ gave to LO when he took that ill advised shot with 17 seconds left on the shot clock, and only 20 seconds left in the game?
that was pretty bone headed by LO, who had an otherwise STELAR game.
question to you folks –
I’ve been advocating LO stays in the starting 5 when ‘Drew comes back, and I understand the argument that the O flows better with Pau in…
but, what happens if LO’s performance noticeably drops off the charts when he moves to the second unit?
what then? (not saying it will, but what IF?)
Darius Soriano says
#7. chris h,
I expect Odom’s performance to tail off some. It’s only natural. He’ll be playing less minutes and his style of play will need to be adjusted as he finds himself grouped with different players than what he is now. Not to say he won’t get burn with the starters, but he’ll play a lot more with the 3 B’s and will obviously play with Bynum a lot too (besides just playing with Gasol like he does now).
Ultimately, his role will be adjusted and that will take some time getting used to. But, he’s the one guy on this team that’s used to that shuffling. So in the end, I think that’s why he should be the guy that takes on that task again. It’s not easy, but that’s one of the other ways that LO is truly valuable. He’s flexible; malleable. He can be multiple things for this team on any given night and/or over the course of a season.
As for rookie of the year; I am still much more impressed by Blake Griffin than John Wall.
The game tonight should be very entertaining!