(Well, I was attempting to get commenters to write this recap for me in an attempt to galvanize the site’s fanbase, but as it turns out, people were far more interested in giving LeBron James a solid s***-talking. Thus, you get a 1:30am game recap from me, Zephid)
Wow, first and foremost, I want to say, that was a frickin doozy. Even though the Lakers historically have dominated this matchup against the Warriors, tonight’s game was easily one of the most exciting of the season. From the shot-making to the crazy good defense leading to a crazy difficult shot that actually went in on numerous occasions, this game really had a little bit of everything.
The game started out fairly pedestrian, the Lakers jumped out to a slight early lead, played some pretty solid D, sent the ball in to the post, ran the triangle, and really did the things they were supposed to do (I love run-on sentences; every time I write one is like a massive middle-finger to my 9th grade English teacher). Then, the Warriors offense really started clicking. Cross court passes have killed this Laker team in recent years, and the Warriors employed them to perfection, leading to roughly a bajillion threes from Stephen Curry, Monta Ellis, and Dorell Wright. The Lakers got into big trouble on some pretty simple screen-roll action, repeatedly being late to help on the cross court pass.
However, it didn’t really help that Monta Ellis went into frickin video game God Mode. If you read the play-by-play on most websites, they read, “Monta Ellis makes driving lay-up” or “Monta Ellis makes 18 foot-jumper” about 4-5 times in a row. The Lakers literally could not stop Ellis; didn’t matter if it was Fisher, Blake, Brown, Kobe, Artest, or anyone guarding him, he just got to his spots and sank his shots (I’m a poet and I didn’t know it!).
Defense, however, was the key for the Lakers to get back in the game. Down 35-23 with 9:22 to go in the 2nd quarter, the Lakers shut down the Warriors offense, tying the game at 40 at the 4:33 mark on a Gasol hook (Maybe it’s because Phil finally realized that playing Luke Walton leads to bad defense?). The Warriors, however, refused to fold, giving the Lakers the ka-pow to end the quarter and went into halftime with an 8 point lead.
As you can see, I’ve recapped an entire half and not mentioned a very conspicuous Laker even once. Probably realizing that this might happen, Mr. Bryant himself almost certainly decided out-loud in a commanding voice before the start of the third quarter, “I’m gonna frickin win this game.” The possessions read in some order: Kobe miss, Kobe free throws, Kobe jumper, Kobe jumper, Kobe bad pass, Kobe jumper, Kobe bad pass, Kobe jumper, Kobe miss, Kobe miss. Frankly, I could’ve sworn that there were more “Kobe bad pass’s” than were stated in the play-by-play, because Kobe did his patented jump-in-to-the-air-then-figure-out-what-the-f***-I’m-gonna-do move on at least 4 occasions, all leading to less than desirable results (read: turnovers). Honestly, Kobe kept the Lakers in the game in the 3rd, but he also kept the Lakers out of the game in the 3rd. Kobe, the one-man double-edged sword.
So, the Lakers go into the 4th down 6, and they see two things: 1.) Andrew Bynum is being guarded by David frickin Lee (all 6’9, 250 lbs of him), and 2.) Lamar Odom is being guarded by Vladimir Radmanovic. First two possessions went something like: pass into Drew in the post; dribble, pound, dribble, pound, free throws / layup. At that point, Keith Smart was probably like “well, this kinda sux, I’d better save David Lee from his own defenselessness,” and proceeded to sub in Andris Biedrins. Then noticing #2 of my points above, Lamar Odom probably saw he was being guarded by Radman and must have imagined the Space Cadet’s face morphing into a gigantic peachy ring, because he proceeded to dominate the crap out of him. Odom Layup, Odom jumper, Odom jumper, Odom free throws, and suddenly the Lakers are up 1.
Now, having been sitting out for the beginning of the 4th quarter (and probably realizing that the whole past paragraph did not include a single mention of himself), Kobe Bryant checked in right in between Lamar’s free throws and probably decided to himself “f*** Lamar, I told everyone that I’m gonna frickin win this game.” The next few possessions go something like: Kobe three, Kobe free throws, Kobe and1, Kobe jumper, Kobe assist, ending with a Kobe dagger three to put the Lakers up 6 with 43 seconds to play. The game gets just a little bit tense later (due to 2 VladRad 3’s, a Dorell Wright 3, and a Wright dunk), but the game was pretty much won at that point.
All of this happened, and I didn’t even mention that Gasol had another monster game against the Warriors, going for 24 and 11 on 8-14 shooting, while Stephen Curry was pretty quiet with 15 and 10 assists on 5-12 shooting. Kobe had an uber-efficient 39 points, 6 boards, 4 assists, 3 steals, and 6 turnovers (ok maybe turnovers aren’t very efficient), while Monta kept pace with 38 points on 15-26 shooting with 3 assists and 2 steals. And for the Warriors, when your starting center gets only 3 rebounds, you know something bad has happened, namely you got outrebouded 18-7 on the offensive glass and 47-27 overall.
This game really came down to three things: 1.) Monta Ellis is frickin unstoppable in the early parts of games, but burns out in the 2nd half because Keith Smart plays him a bajillion minutes a night; 2.) The Lakers length not only gives them a huge rebounding advantage, but it also gives them a huge defensive advantage with Bynum in the middle; 3.) When Kobe Bryant wants to take over a game, he takes over a game, for better or worse. The Lakers came out of it with a solid win against a decent team, coming from behind and not losing control once they got over the hump. The Lakers are continuing to build on their recent solid play, and that’s really all you can ask for in the middle of January.