If one game could sum up a season, this was it. The Lakers found their footing early, extended the lead going into the home stretch, gave up that entire big lead through sloppy play and poor execution, had Kobe bail them out, and then out talented their opponent at the end with excellent big man play and some Kobe mixed in. The result was a 116-108 victory over the Kings that clinches the 2nd seed in the West and a 1st round date with the Hornets. What an amazing, frustrating, thrilling, breathe a sigh of relief at the end ride. This sounds just like the Lakers’ season, no?
So much happened in this game that bullet points will have to do…
*Offensively the Lakers looked like they’d been drilled on doing the little things before this game. The spacing was better, the passes were crisper, and the team got into their sets much quicker. Everything the Lakers did on offense just had a better, more even pace to it. As a team, I thought their focus on executing (at least for the first 3 quarters) was as good as it’s been in weeks.
*The Lakers big men, though running on fumes at the end, came up big tonight. Gasol tallied 18 points on 50% shooting and had 13 rebounds. He worked well both from the mid range and off the dribble while also doing a good job of drawing fouls on DeMarcus Cousins early on. He could have been a bit more effective in the post with his jump hook, but I’m in no way complaining about that. He showed fight and was aggressive when he caught the ball, two traits that always enhance his game. Meanwhile, Lamar Odom again showed his value as a player that can move seamlessly between the bench and the starting lineup. Taking his place with the first five, Odom scored 22 points, grabbed 8 rebounds, and dished out 7 assists in a fantastic effort that showed his all court game and versatility as a player. I know I’ve typed those same words about LO about 40 different times this year, but it’s amazing how good he’s been and how vital his contributions have been to the Lakers’ success. Tonight was no different as he made several plays down the stretch, including an “and 1” finish on a fast break where he received an excellent drop pass that converted into a lay in as he got hit by 2 Kings defenders.
*The Lakers’ reserves also played well. For all the grief I’ve given Shannon Brown lately, he put in some very good minutes in the first half by playing under control and making quick decisions with the ball. He had several good post entries and took his jumper in rhythm rather than relying on the dribble to set up his shot. I was also quite impressed with Trey Johnson in his 13 minutes of burn. He showed poise and versatility during his run, playing both PG and SG while never trying to do too much with the ball. He cut well, made good post entries, ran the floor hard, and even hit a couple of jumpers coming off P&R’s and hand off sequences at the elbow. All and all a very nice showing in his first minutes with the varsity team.
*The star of the Lakers was none other than Kobe Bryant, though. Mr. Bean worked all aspects of his offensive arsenal tonight, making several turn around jumpers and driving to the lane where he finished inside and drew fouls. Kobe finished the night with 36 points on 24 shots, grabbed 9 rebounds, and handed out 6 dimes in one of his more complete performances of late. In the fourth quarter, he did force some shots with the game tightening up (two separate baseline jumpers stand out as especially difficult looks where passing was certainly a better option) but he did hit the game that sent this contest to overtime so in the end it’s difficult to be down on him (especially when you re-examine his line and realize how good he was for first 3 periods and the overtime).
Kobe’s D also deserves mention as he had a big block at the end of regulation to ensure the extra 5 minute frame and then continued his good effort in overtime by doing a good job of denying Marcus Thornton touches and limiting the Kings best offensive option of the night.
*Where the Lakers weren’t that great was in defending Marcus Thornton for most of the game (this was mostly Fisher’s responsibility) and in securing defensive rebounds as the game wore on. Thornton scored well (33 points on 26 shots) and did a lot of damage not only with his jumper but in bulling his way to the hoop for finishes at the rim. As for the rebounding, the Lakers surrendered 16 offensive rebounds including many down the stretch of the 4th quarter that helped fuel the Kings’ furious come back that had every Laker fan asking “are you kidding me?”. The fact that Sacramento was able to turn an 18 point deficit going into the 4th quarter into a 3 point lead with only 10 seconds left proved how much they wanted this game and how they never did quit on the night. Which leads me too…
*The end of this game, even though it was a win, was quite sad for any fan of the NBA. The Kings players, their fans, and everyone watching at home could sense the emotion in the building as the final buzzer sounded with the Kings losing this game. All you really have to do is watch this clip and you’ll know exactly what I mean.
In the end though, I’ll gladly take this win. With the clinching of the #2 seed and news that both Bynum and Barnes should be ready for game 1 on Sunday, this is day that wasn’t so bad after all. After last night’s game I said that I just hoped we’d be feeling good tonight in celebrating a win and we are. So enjoy this one Laker fans, as the 2nd season is upon us and the race for the trophy begins.
I don’t think anyone liked the way the lakers played,but it’s over.The playoffs are here, no more bs, no more excuses. The lakers have a lot to work on. Showing up will not be good enough this year. They have a huge advantage over N.O. in every position except PG. CP3 just isn’t capable of stealing 2 games from the Lakers by himself if the Lakers play the way they have the past 3 postseasons. The sooner lakers finish them off the better because the second round will be tough.
But in general the lakers just have to execute on the offensive end with precision. No more trying to win games in the first quarter. On the defensive end, No more fouling 3 point shooters, no more allowing bench players to go for 20, no more turnovers and bad shots that lead to poor transition defense.
And Darius any thoughts on what they may do with Trey Johnson?
What is with the Lakers sucking it up the last few minutes of fourth quarters. I know they don’t have a Center on the floor usually down the stretch but with talents like Kobe, Gasol, Odom, and Artest and the clutch Derek Fisher you would think they would be better.
Finally, the 2nd season is off and running, after the regular 82 games. I feel this is another journey to enjoy this year through the Playoffs with the Lakers, and I expect it to continue on through June, with a healthy squad.
“But all endings are also beginnings. We just don’t know it at the time.” – Mitch Albom
Why are you still not retired Kobe?You are uttering slurs,a complete liability,hell,you even could not make All NBA first team before Abbotian eyes this year,and you are very naughtily inefficient.There are lots of statistic laden whiz people who would give anything to stop you reaching 33K points.. Go back to your family after this season,leave NBA to LeBron the King and efficient stats monsters!
Mike Smrek says
Wow, what a crazy finish to a wild regular season. A possible Hornets-Mavs/Thunder-Spurs route to the Finals is tough, but I like the chances of the Lakers to do this.
And while chicken-pox-infested Steve Blake is of no immediate use to us, can we get him on the media roll as our official locker room reporter of the Celtics?
Stupid me, of course it would be the Mavs in the 2nd round and then either the Spurs or the Thunder in the WCF.
Like the Spurs have been for years, so the Kings used to be this rival that you could only respect for their brilliant basketball, and for how far they pushed the Lakers.
I don’t remember any other Conference finals as vividly as the Kings one.
If the Kings are leaving, so does a part of the Lakers Legend. I hope Webber finds a way to turn it around.
Joe A says
Sitting back, waiting for the TrueHoop article explaining how Kobe was, in fact, not clutch again last night . . .
I thought this quote from the lead article for ESPN’s Daily Dime was pretty funny.
“Right as the Memphis Grizzlies had a chance to clinch the seventh seed and a matchup with the Lakers, Zach Randolph and Tony Allen realized they absolutely, positively needed two games of rest. What awful timing. With their loss to the Los Angeles Clippers, the Grizzlies fell to the eighth and final playoff spot in the West, where they will meet the Spurs. I’m sure they are simply devastated by this turn of events.”
Can we have an official “Flip the Switch” ceremony here on FB&G? I keep hearing about the switch and I think now would be the best time to have it turned on.
As we’ve bemoaned through the season, our lack of big-man depth (I know we have Pau-AB-Odom) hurt us tonight. Pau/Odom were running on fumes after a back to back, and the triumvirate of Caracter/Smith/Ratliff was not entirely imposing. We really need Ratliff to be healthy, just so we can give 5-8 minutes of rest for our centers. I think it’s safe to say Caracter may be playing elsewhere next year.
I’m secretly hoping that Trey Johnson will get a chance to do something, as he made the most of last night. We need some young legs on the perimeter.
This week has been one of the most up and down weeks I can recall as a Lakers fan. Bynum’s knee’s “rise from the dead” may prove to be a karmic rebound. I was almost ready to accept our fate when he crumpled on the floor…but it seems the basketball gods may say differently.
Memphis tanking that game against the Clippers would never have happened if Hubie Brown were still alive.
I’m not asking for 7 pts/5rebs a game from reserve big men not named Lamar Odom. I’m merely asking for other teams to not go on a 10-0 run in 2 minutes when they’re on the floor. Is that so much to ask?
I liked the combination of Trey and Shannon out there together…with Johnson as PG and Brown as SG.
Time for the playoffs!
3 days of rest, and then back at it. Now finally the slog’s over with and all excuses go out the window.
I, too, am concerned about our high level of suck to close games out. We really need to change that trend come playoff time, because I’d say the majority of the games will come down to 4th quarter execution. That’s really the only trend from the season that has me concerned.
@ nimble #4, how many championships does kobe have? you know there are youtube videos dedicated to lebron traveling right? who carried team usa in the final game? not carmelo, not lebron, not wade, KOBE. who does Jordan the greatest player ever tell you is better? you couldn’t score 81 points if you were playing 3rd graders and you were really trying. Yea kobe’s knees are wearing down (he has already played more games then jordan, excuse him for being a beast and playing through pain) but do you remember last year when people said he was wearing down? came out and scored 30 in 6 straight games ? he has played a career low in minutes and has been saving himself. I’m going to remember you when we win the ring again this year.
Darius Soriano says
#16. I think he was joking…at least I hope that was the case.
Lol nimble’s a regular. He was definitely joking. Internet snark FTW
Vintage Kobe is always nice to see… the swish to tie and take it to OT followed by the stare-down at the Kings bench and business-like walk towards his own bench a moment later made me happy. Imagine what he could do if he was actually clutch? 🙂
Also, Derek Fisher drawing fouls, doing the little things, hitting his outside shots early, never panicking no matter what happened on the score board (one of he absolutely best qualities — the smarts and constantly focused calm). I think he’s hitting his play-off stride.. this is very reassuring.
And others have said it already but I’m going to add my voice to the chorus and say that I like Trey Johnson. He played hard, but not stupid hard. He didn’t desperately try to do everything just because this may be his only chance to audition for a full-time NBA job, he played his role, he hustled and made a difference in a couple of rebound plays, and overall he looked good. Not the least bit lost of overwhelmed at all. I hope he gets to stick around for a while.
And though I have no warm feelings for the Kings I feel kind of bad for their fans. There are teams in the league who would kill for a fan base with that kind of dedication and loyalty, and the owners want to just pack up and leave…? No fan base deserves that.
Darius Soriano says
A new post is up.
Re: Joe A about kobes cluthness? Abbot doesn’t quit he didnt make an article but he was on sportsnation tooting the same bs about kobe not being clutch.
man, I’m a Lakers fan who grew up in Sacramento, and I gotta say I used to HATE Grant Napier and Jerry Reynolds. But watching that clip, I feel awful for them. Sad day for my hometown and for the NBA in general.