Tonight is just one of those nights where the Lakers’ collective talent was enough to win the game, but you never got the feeling of this game being dominated by an obviously superior team. The Lakers’ inability to put teams away has been a pet peeve of mine of lately, and tonight’s game was no different. The Lakers held leads of 18 and 17 points at different points in this game, but the game never seemed out of reach, as the Lakers continued to let the Hornets get back into the game over and over again. Even though it never seemed as if the Hornets gained enough momentum to get over the proverbial hump, the Lakers never really put them away.
The Lakers got going early, getting the ball inside to Pau and Andrew Bynum for easy layups and dunks. Kobe saw some time in the post, knocking down short jumpers and getting to the free throw line by attacking the rim. Even Ron Artest muscled Marco Belinelli for a couple of easy buckets near the rim. Even though Derek Fisher wasn’t putting points up on the board, he had a few nice passes that led to easy points for the Lakers early on in the game. The Lakers pounded their way to a 30-19 first quarter lead, and really looked like they were finding a nice offensive groove going into the second quarter.
Unfortunately, the second unit went away from what was working for the starters and started taking jumper after jumper after jumper after jumper. During the first six minutes of the second quarter, the Lakers took a 15-foot or longer jump shot in nine of their 12 attempts. By that point, the Lakers watched what was once a 12 point lead, get reduced to a four point lead. This trend would continue throughout the rest of the game. The Lakers played fantastic basketball to open up the third and extended their lead to 18, but started taking more jump shots and watched as their lead dipped back below double figures. They, again, stretched their lead to 17 points, but watched as that lead was slowly chipped away until the Lakers finally put the Hornets away in the final minutes of the game.
Of course, not all is bad in a win. We’ve been seeing a more aggressive Kobe in recent weeks and he topped the 30-point mark for the third straight game for the first time since the end of January/beginning of February. What you have to like about his recent performances is the fact that he’s been really aggressive in attacking the rim, allowing him to pick his spots in his mid-range game, which in turn turns into more efficient outings. Also, he’s been getting to the free throw line at a nice rate. Tonight, Kobe was seven for eight from the free throw line. Pau also had a fantastic game, scoring 23 points and adding 16 rebounds. His mid range jumper has been outstanding in recent games, and was no different tonight. More importantly, however, was the fact that he was not only finishing around the rim, but he was finishing strong. He had a few and-1’s and a couple of dunks in traffic.
Andrew Bynum had a rough night with the referees for most of the game, but had a small takeover while out on the floor with the second unit midway through the fourth quarter. He had a nice baseline drop step that got him to the free throw line, hit a nice face up jumper over Aaron Gray, a big dunk off of a Luke Walton pass and hit one more short jumper before Lamar Odom came in to finish the game for him. Finally, Ron Artest had a really efficient game tonight. 4-6 from the field, 1-1 from three and 2-2 from the free throw line. He finished the night with three steals, and now the Lakers are 14-1 when Ron line in the box score shows three steals.
Overall, it’s hard to complain too much after the Lakers won their 15th game in 16 outings since the All-Star break. They got it done on the defensive end again, only giving up 84 to the Hornets. The Lakers have Dallas up next on Thursday.
Craig W. says
I really do have problems with the 2nd unit’s complete inability to run the offense. The combination of Blake and Brown don’t seem able to figure out how to get the ball inside and continually look for open looks from the perimeter. This twosome is not something I want to see in the game together next year.
Darius Soriano says
I think it’s more Shannon than Blake. Steve consistently looks for the post. He set up Drew several times, including his baseline move where he got that and-1 dunk on Gray and another repost where Drew hit a nice jump hook with the shot clock running down. Brown on the other hand, looks to the post as a secondary option after it’s determined that he doesn’t have an opening for himself. Don’t get me wrong, I like Shannon’s growth as a player but he’s forming some suspect habits as a gunner on the 2nd unit.
Yeah Phillip, you say it how it is, no sugar coating here, and there should not be. I am so tired of the relentless J’s, and the misses that always come after them, from the 2nd unit. At least in the Playoffs the rotations will be shortened, that should help a little, I guess.
Okay. We do need to talk about this. So let’s do it. You’re right. I have a problem. Let’s just get it out in the open. Me and you. Here and now. I’m sorry to bring this up in this way… But… I have a big time man crush on Andrew Bynum. It’s not even a man crush. It’s justa crush. Its more than that… I’m in love. And it’s bad. So I’m going to explain why my day starts and ends with him.
When was the last time we had a player besides Kobe that could steal the games story line by scoring 13 points and grabbing less than 10 rebounds? And don’t say Shannon Brown. Fast break dunks don’t count. Andrew Bynum was basically fouled out of this game early by some pretty interesting calls. With five fouls and the Hornets cutting the lead to four points HOF coach told the team to throw the ball into Andrew Bynum and when they were tired of it to throw it to him some more. And the Lakers young giant center just took the ball and put it in the basket. He did so again and again. But it wasn’t just that he scored at will for basically five straight possessions. He scored the ball in ever offensive way you could do so. There were back in dunks. There were Gasol esc face up jump shots. There were over double team jump hooks. And if course the ever so usual drive baseline spin move turn around and dunk on the entire species of hornets shots.
The crowd was more shocked than elated. They were more appreciative than entertained. We are going to have to talk about this. I know we are all scared. He has broke our hearts with his knees time and time over. But it’s time we have this conversation. Should I be purchasing and pasting an Andrew Bynum poster on my bedroom ceiling?
In what could have been a trap game, a win is great. What’s more, each win adds to the possibility of claiming the No. 1 seed overall, which in turn increases the motivation of our players, making each win worth more than the win itself.
I am a bit worried that we may lose steam once playoffs arrive or once San Antonio steps out of its funk and puts the 1 seed question to rest for good, but so far, happy about the way we’re accumulating wins.
Now I wish Shannon would realize that his hot-shooting at the beginning of the season was fool’s gold and play more conservatively.
Mike Penberthy says
On my list of Laker worries for the upcoming playoffs the play of the bench is at the very bottom of the list. The formula for winning the NBA championship has been pretty clear over the last 20 years.
Your team’s starting 5 should have 2 allstars out of whom one is a future Hall of famer, one near all star and role players. Having any kind of a bench is not a necessity. Lakers only had a bench in Phil’s 1st year here. The Bulls bench consisted of Kukoc and nothing else. In fact these “deep” teams never seem to win anything. The Suns a few years ago were deep. The 99-03 Kings were also deep. Won nothing. And the Spurs with their great bench will not win anything this year either.
In a perfect world you’d like to have a great starting 5 plus a great bench. But this is the real world and this world having a deep team is not a prerequisite to winning a title to say the least.
Mike – to an extent. In the playoffs, the rotations shorten to about 8 men at the most; but the extra 2 or 3 guys that come off the bench (in this case Lamar, Steve, Shannon, and maybe even Matt) can give you that extra push needed to win a crucial game or two – and that can easily swing the outcome of a series.
And funnily enough, those four players are the ones struggling the most. I think come playoff time, our new mob will be just fine.
EDIT: I’m Simonoid.
That Bynum dunk in the highlights is just not fair. I backs Okafor all the way down to the other side of the ring, and just dunks it with two hands without even turning.
And Okafor is an above average starting center in this league, but Bynum made him look his youngest son out in the drive way.
Kobe does not have to take so many 3’s. The thing is he has those nights where they actually go in… Next they have Dallas… Keep pounding it inside…
Bynum looks hungry. He knows after handling Orlando’s so-called Superman, he really has no one that can stop him. Imagine, he has to face Pau in practice all the time, that might be the toughest competition he faces… The only guy with the same anger in his game is Perkins. But he can’t jump.
As of late we’ve squeaked by with some wins. If you’re a glass is half-empty type of guy you can claim we could be easily 10-6 since the break or a glass is half-full guy and say we could easily be 16-0.
Regardless if you think we’re lucky and have gotten a few good bounces our way, I think good teams do the little things that make themselves lucky.
While we all desire wins like the recent one against the Spurs described as “basketball porn”, its all the same in the standings. With the Lakers talent and luck things are looking bad for the other contenders.
Come playoff time Phil Jackson will shorten his rotation to 8 players the starting 5 being Bynum, Gasol, Artest, Bryant & Fisher while the subs will be Odom,Barnes & Blake. Brown may sub in instances of early foul trouble. This regular season the second unit, sans Shanon Brown, have done a pretty good job of either protecting or increasing leads built by the starters. But when Brown comes in the second unit tends to become trigger happy and shoots long two’s. On a different note, I see that we have a slim chance of catching the Spurs at No. 1. But do we really need that No. 1 seed and have a possible faceoff with OKC at the 2nd round? If the standings right now would not change I see an easier path for the lakers to reach the conference finals rather than the Spurs. With the lakers possibly meeting NOH in the first round and Dallas on the second round I see a clearer and easier path to the conference finals considering our dominance over NOH and the difficulties of Dallas in getting a win at staples coupled with the fact that they always fold come playoff time. While the Spurs will face Memphis in the first round it is not a sure fire walk in the park for them to advance to the second round. And if they advance to the second round they will face a dangerous OKC.
Brown’s individual play is the bench’s biggest problem IMO. Too often he goes into his Kobe imitation and starts dancing with the ball looking for an opening. I can almost predict with 100% accuracy when he’ll end up jacking a contested jumper.
Lamar has been steady. Blake’s shot has come and gone, but if he continues to hit his catch and shoot 3’s at 41% and runs the offense as he has been, he’ll be fine. Barnes’ game relies on hustle and cutting to the hoop, his game will fit in too.
Even with a short rotation in the playoffs, those guys will be needed. It all comes down to Shannon’s shot selection. He really needs to move the ball more and only jumpers he takes should be off the offense not his own iso moves. I’d be really interested to see his synergy numbers on catch and shoot. Seems like he makes a lot more of those.
I don’t think us fans have to worry too much about LA catching SA.
Not gonna happen. Would be nice to end up ahead of the other pretenders, though.
Especially those worrisome Bulls.
The Dude Abides says
@4. I always tell my friends Walter and Donny that there are plenty of attractive women out there, so why get hung up on one who doesn’t even know you’re alive? Why limit yourself? Just take life as it comes, like I did with Maude. She’s not my special lady, though. There are and will be others.
My favorite off the bench remains Matt Barnes. When he plays well he brings energy, solid defense, and he makes a few shots here and there. When he doesn’t play well, he seems (to me at least) less “destructive” than when some of the other bench players have bad days. I missed him while he was out injured, and I’m happy he’s back.
Craig W. says
It would seem Shannon has a natural gunner’s mentality and picked up some bad habits from Farmar. Unfortunately I think he is what we think he is.
chris y says
@6 is that really mike p! #12 for the lake show back in the day?
@4 and 14, LOL. For the record, I too am very glad that we have Mr. Bynum, our 7 foot, 285 pound Lakers starting Center.
With tonight’s results, we are now just 3.5 games behind SA, and tied with Chicago. The question is, do we want the #1 seed?