Some games, regardless of the outcome aren’t that much fun to watch. Whether the Lakers win or lose matters, of course, but there are games where how they get there doesn’t really excite or get the blood flowing. Friday’s game against the Nets just happened to be one such game for me. A combination of the slow pace (87 possessions are 5 fewer than the Lakers normally play) and the fact that neither team seemed to be able to make shots consistently just left me drowsy watching both last night (admittedly, in a flu-enduced haze) and this morning (when I’m feeling much better, thank you very much). But, a win is a win and I’ll suffer through a 100-88 game that bores anytime if it means that a W is at the end of it all.
The game began like so many others of late, with Ron Artest making a jumper. This hasn’t been discussed much, but Ron-Ron has really started to find a good rhythm on offense and against the Nets, the trend continued. Looking confident and comfortable with his shot all night, Ron moved into open space and fired away with little hesitation and it led to 14 points on only 7 shots. He made 2 of his 3 attempts from long range while also making his only 2 FT attempts. Just another very good effort from Artest on offense. And when you combine his shot making with his activity on defense (2 steals, tireless hounding of ball handlers) it’s fair to say that he’s really starting to play better basketball and is becoming a much more consistent contributor to Laker wins.
But Ron wasn’t alone in doing damage from the wing. Kobe continued his strong play from the Warriors game right into Friday’s effort against the Nets. Flashing his textbook footwork from both triple threat and post up positions, Kobe had defenders guessing all night. Whether showing off his jumper or attacking the basket, Kobe was finishing at an expert level and had a couple of plays (including a fantastic reverse lay in) that will surely live on beyond last night in highlight reels and top play countdowns. Without Kobe’s and Ron’s efforts, it’s not a stretch to say that the Lakers would have had a difficult time keeping pace with New Jersey in the first half.
Mostly because when it came to interior play, the roles were reversed as the Nets controlled the offensive paint and the Lakers mostly struggled in the first half. The Lakers trio of big men just couldn’t get their act together as they stumbled into halftime with a combined 8 points on 2-15 shooting. Whether it was Bynum picking up fouls trying to guard Brook Lopez (limiting him to 11 first half minutes) or Gasol and Odom missing shots that they normally knock down, the Laker bigs had a forgettable half.
Meanwhile, Brook Lopez was determined to show that he could compete with some of the best bigs the league has to offer. Lopez showed off a variety of post moves, a solid mid-range jumper, and even some explosive finishing all night. He ended the game with 35 points on only 19 shots and was the Nets main offensive threat, keeping them in the game the entire night. Every time the Nets needed a basket, it seemed like Lopez was able to provide it either by getting a shot for himself or being enough of an interior presence to occupy defenders and help create openings for his mates.
But despite Lopez’s great offensive output, the game would slowly start to tilt in the Lakers’ favor. In the 2nd half, the Laker bigs started to come alive as both Gasol and Odom were able to finally knock down the looks that they’d missed earlier in the game. Both players worked the interior with solid post ups (Gasol) and slashing/finishing (Odom) and the mid-range area by knocking down rhythm jumpers. And with their improved offense, their D also picked up. And while neither was really able to slow down Lopez, they did do a very good job against every other Net that came into the paint and that effort certainly contributed to the Nets’ struggles to score.
And in the end, it was enough to get the win. For most of the night it was ugly and there were plenty of stretches where it looked like the Lakers weren’t as hustling as much as they could have been, but I’ll forgive the team since it resulted in a W. With Jersey playing hard, the Farmar/Sasha factor (both played well, by the way), and Lopez having one of his best games all year, I’ll cut the team some slack and just be happy with the fact that victory #7 in a row was claimed.
Definitely not one of the most exciting games that I’ve ever witnessed, but as we all know, the only thing that matters is the end result. A W is a W in any way, shape or form and I figured we’d play down to the Level of Competition. Efficient games from Ron Ron, Kobe & LO (except for his free throws). Also good to see Jordan (make sure that Ring stays shined) and Sasha have solid games in there return to Staples.
On another note, someone please tell me where was Big Drew last night? He allowed Lopez to look like the next coming of Hakeem Olajuwan out there. A few days ago, a Post/Discussion was centered around the Development/Potential of Drew. I stated @ the time that we shouldn’t get too high on him because he dominated a couple of Inferior/Smaller frontlines. I also said that I would hold off on Praising him until he put up Solid numbers against individuals who can match his Size and Strength. Last nights game was a Perfect Example of what I was talkin’ about. Now, once again, I’m not bashing the kid and as we all know, everyone is entitled to an off night. Also, fortunately for us, our opponents last night is one of the Worst teams in the A (Association), but with upcoming tests against the Mavs (Chandler/Haywood), Nuggets (Nene), Celtics (Shaq) and Spurs (Duncan), I’m looking forward to seeing what Drew brings to the table.
I think the team is going to need a little more from Blake as things move forward and the schedule stiffens.
Yes, I know Farmar didn’t fit the system and made bonehead plays, but Blake has basically been Fisher, except with slightly better D and a much higher turnover percentage. Blake is shooting less than 40% on 2s and has failed to score in 3 of the last 5 games.
I was lukewarm about the Blake signing and was absolutely opposed to giving him four years, but I understand why the Lakers wanted him. But he needs to provide more than he has been.
Drew was the victim of the quick whistle–nothing more nothing less. I don’t know if he was being put in his place for his post-game comments after the Knicks-game debacle, or what, but the only thing you can take away from Drew’s performance last night is, sometimes, if you are a big man, you are going to get called for fouls just for guarding someone. It used to happen to Shaq, it happens now to Dwight Howard in ORL, and it still happens to Drew now. I’m not worried about it.
dave m says
Agree with #3 here, Bynum was getting called for ticky-tacks and couldn’t ever get going. He knew it too, he totally knew they were giving him the business. At least it happened during a Nets game.
The Dude Abides says
Lopez got going by hitting a rushed, contested baseline jumper over Drew as the shot clock was running out. The shot was off the cylinder to the left, but the ball bounced six feet up, hit the backboard, and dropped into the hole. He definitely got more confident after that lucky break. Then Drew got whistled for his second foul about halfway through the first quarter for breathing on Lopez. After Drew came back into the game in the 2nd quarter, he played about five minutes then breathed on another Net and got called for his third. He picked up his fourth foul in the 3rd quarter on a clean block, then got his fifth in the 4th quarter for again breathing too hard on a Net, or perhaps even coughing on him. It’s possible I got the order of his last three fouls reversed, but it was one of those games. As the Lakers were shooting about twice as many FTs as the Nets, the officials looked like they picked one guy on the Lakers to mess with and keep the FT disparity from being too great, and that guy was Drew.
my roommate was talking s*** about kobe like laker haters love to do. I had to shut him up with this:
2nd half HIGHlights from USA vs. Spain Cold gold medal game 2008 olympics
Spot on by the dude…
The title of the recap is also particularly apt today….LA won ugly, but they won. Meanwhile, MIA had a chance to win ugly tonight at CHI, but went down (and, Lakeshow fans, LA is now 1/2 game up on the Heat…)
Even the ugly ones matter…..
Bill Simmons, one of the great Kobe-haters of all time, even had to give it up for Kobe in a post-gold-medal-game article, which went something like this….
“for most of the Games, Team USA had an alpha dog issue. Was this Kobe’s team or LeBron’s? Fast-forward to 8:13 left: Fernandez’s three cuts the lead to two; the crowd is going bonkers. Spain’s bench reacts like a euphoric 15-seed during a March Madness upset, and the U.S. calls timeout. All along, my biggest fear had been a tight game and multiple USA guys saying, “I got it!” Instead, everyone deferred to Kobe, who made some monster plays to clinch it. Know that in the history of the NBA we have never had the best-player-alive argument resolved so organically. Incredible. Kobe, you have the Lord of the Flies conch. Use it wisely.”
The Dude Abides says
@6. That was one of the best-played games in Olympic history, and few people in the US watched it live. Kobe really took over in the 4th.
I hope the boyz got it out of their system last night, competition gets tougher starting tommorrow with the Clips. Hopefully Bean can continue his hot shooting streak he’s had the past two games. Bynum can get some redemption tommorrow when he throws Griffins shot into the second row and scores 20+ points on D. Jordan.
@9. Dude i caught it live and remember thinking Kobe was gangster after making those late clutch 3’s then giving everyone the shhhhh sign. Coolest reaction i’ve seen in such a high profile game.
Maybe Bynum needs to practice holding his breath.
lil' pau says
We’re getting lots of help in the standings right now (largely due to the injuries of Dirk, KG, and LBJ); let’s hope we can take advantage.
dave m says
#13 – only thing is, the Spurs are still playing strong. We narrowed the gap a little but they’re still 4.5 ahead at 34&6. We get to play them again on Feb 3.
Chris J says
The 2008 Olympic Gold Medal Game was awesome. I stayed up late to watch it live, and it truly was a time when there was no way anyone could question who took that team home down the stretch.
I felt Wade had the best tournament overall, but when push came to shove it was Kobe who led the U.S. to the gold medal podium.
Darius Soriano says
Clippers game preview is up: