Last night’s game against the Blazers seemed to hang in the balance the entire night. The game was tied countless times and it really didn’t seem like the Lakers would ever get over the hump and create the separation they needed to win the game.
In the first half, the Lakers found some success playing the way they have in their recent stretch, with Dwight starting to find his stride as a post practitioner, pick and roll finisher, and having some impact on defense (J.J. Hickson’s ridiculous shooting notwithstanding). Antawn Jamison was having some impact off the bench and Kobe, like he has been of late, was playing a very controlled game scoring 11 points on 9 shots with 3 assists and 3 rebounds.
This style, however had the Lakers trailing by two points.
In the second half, it was fair to question if the Lakers really would win this game that they needed so desperately. Portland looked like they were “due” to get a win after losing 6 straight and the Lakers looked like they would be the team to give it to them
Heading into that 2nd half, our own Emile Avanessian made a simple plea on twitter:
This whole "team ball" thing is great, but can Kobe just be Kobe for a half?
— Emile A (@hardwoodhype) February 23, 2013
Emile would get his wish. In the 2nd half, Kobe scored 29 points on 14 shots and carried the team’s offense all the way to a win. The game itself wasn’t always pretty, but Kobe Bryant’s performance sure as hell was.
It feels cliche to continue to tell people to appreciate Kobe. But he’s been so good for so long we can sometimes take him for granted. Against the Blazers, though, he showed us once again what a classic Kobe game was. And for that, I know we’re all grateful.
With age, these will come far and few between… sad, considering once it was all but guaranteed.
david h says
darius: what started as a personal guarantee that the lakers will make the playoffs, took a personal effort to win last night’s game vs the blazers. good grief and thank goodness kobe still has that ability. it’s a mixed bag as far as the rest of the team is concerned or not as concerned based on last night’s performances. three weeks from now this game will be of little or no importance other than to point out that a win after a guarantee was the start of great importance to the mamba. hopefully, the rest of the “team” will have the fortitude and strength to do the same.
for now and until the end of the regular season, it will be game in game out. scoreboard watching will be on everyone’s mind; the stretch run rounding the far corner has just begun and the race to the playoffs are now in full gear. steve nash: this is a fun place to be; help kobe and dwight bring us home. you may be old (nba basketball wise) but your experience and wisdom should pevail. and grow that hair back out; you played like delilah (and that’s an insult to delilah).
Nash said that he hurt his back in the first half last night and it tightened up. That explains most of the poor shooting. Like Kobe said…”everybody has an off night.” If Nash plays up to his usual standards, then the Lakers win this game by double digits.
Still a very good win against a Blazers team that gives us fits. We could really have used Pau last night as well. If Mike D can figure out how to have effective rotations involving Pau and Dwight, then this team has a real chance to make noise- assuming they make the playoffs.
Thanks for the write up Darius and the trip down memory lane that watching that video is. Kobe doesn’t have many of those nights left…
harvey M says
Nash said he tweaked his back in the first half…not a real good sign. Almost every year, these last few, there has been something with the back at the end of the year. and when he is a little injured his shooting really suffers as it did last night.
I had hoped that his somewhat diminished role offensively would help this year. But he still has to fight through screens and give 100% on the defensive side, if not even more than he used to.
The good news is that there are only 2 games in 8 days after Monday, so he needs to just gut it out for 2 more games, till he gets a bit of a break.
So these next 2 are key…In Dallas seems kind of like a must win, as in Denver on a back to back will be very tough. Denver has only lost at home 3 times all year. Maybe they sit him down on Monday in Denver?
Slap Dog (from the last thread):
Have you looked at the various and sundry schedules? The Rockets have a rather easy schedule going forward. Here are the remaining schedules and some other items:
Mavs, Nuggets, TWolves, Hawks, OKC, NO, Raptors, Bulls, Magic, Hawks, Pacers, Kings, Suns, Wash, GSW, TWolves, Bucks, Kings, Mavs, Grizzlies, Clips, NO, Blazers, GSW, Spurs, Rockets
Hou (Rockets are up 2-1 in the season series with 1 game remaining, the season finale):
Wash, Bucks, Magic, Mavs, Mavs, GSW, Suns, Suns, TWolves, GSW, Utah, Cleve, Spurs, Pacers, Grizzlies, Clips, Magic, Kings, Blazers, Nuggets, Suns, Grizzlies, Kings, Suns, Lakers
Utah (won the season series, 2-1, so Jazz own the head to head tiebreaker):
Clips, Celts, Hawks, Bobcats, Bucks, Cleve, Bulls, Knicks, Pistons, OKC, Grizzlies, Knicks, Rockets, Spurs, Mavs, Sixers, Suns, Blazers, Nets, Blazers, Nuggets, NO, GSW, OKC, TWolves, TWolves, Grizzlies
GSW (Lakers are up 2-0 in season series, with 2 games remaining):
TWolves, Pacers, Knicks, Celts, Sixers, Raptors, Kings, Rockets, Bucks, Knicks, Pistons, Bulls, Rockets, NO, Spurs, Wash, Lakers, Kings, Blazers, NO, Suns, Jazz, TWolves, OKC, Lakers, Spurs, Blazers
GSW and Utah: 27
By the way, the tiebreakers are:
(1) division winner advances over non-division winner
(2) head to head winner
(3) conference record
(4) record versus WC playoff teams
(5) record versus EC playoff teams (both (4) and (5) would include games against teams that are tied for a playoff spot)
(6) net points (i.e., add up all points scored in all games and then subtract all points allowed in all games, giving net points)(so never give up points in the blowout late, either way, since sooner or later, this tiebreaker will come into play, it’s only a matter of time)
And to round it out, given (3) above, the conference records:
Now for my read, unfortunately, aside from that one 4 game stretch (Spurs, Pacers, Grizzlies, Clips), the Rockets have a relatively easy schedule. The one good thing in the scheduling and the results to date is that the Rockets lead the season series, 2-1, but play the Lakers in the season finale. So the Lakers could win that game, even up the season series, and then if they are tied overall, the conference record determines the playoff spot. As you can see, the Lakers have the better conference record, and leaving aside all other games yet to be played, would gain that 1 more game by winning the season finale against the Rockets (so a last game victory against the Rockets would have the double effect of evening the head to head and gaining the Lakers a game in the conference record department, as it were).
Also, with head to head being the 2nd tiebreaker, the Lakers would need to finish ahead of the Jazz and not tied, as the Jazz won the season series, 2-1. So the standings say that the Lakers are 4 and a half back of the Jazz, but given the head to head being owned by the Jazz, it’s really 5 and a half, since a tie won’t do the trick, as it were. And since the Jazz have 1 more game to play than the Lakers, could be 6 games out vis-a-vis the Jazz. That’s an awful lot of games to make up over 26 games. Even a Jazz loss in their game in hand would leave them 4 up on the Lakers and, again, what with them owning the head to head tiebreaker, would be a 5 game advantage. Again, that’s an awful lot of games to make up over 26 games (1 game in every 5 games).
Lastly, there’s the GSW. They are 6 games up in the loss column, with a game in hand. So after that game in hand, they’ll be either 5 games up if they lose, and 6 games up if they win. The only hope in their regard comes with a downside, i.e., the Rockets have 2 games left against the GSW, and so could win both. That wouldn’t help the Lakers catch the Rockets but would help towards the Lakers catching the GSW. More help would come from the Lakers winning both of their remaining games against the GSW, giving them the season series, 4-0, and leaving the Lakers 1 or 2 games back with 22 other games to play. So, as crazy as this sounds, I’m rooting for the GSW to lose their game in hand, so 5 games up on the Lakers, lose their 2 games against the Rockets as well as their 2 games against the Lakers, leaving them 1 game up on the Lakers with both teams playing 22 other games. If the Lakers cannot gain a single game on the GSW over those other 22 games, then they simply don’t deserve to make the playoffs. So that’s my hope, GSW loses their game in hand, loses both games against the Rockets, both games against the Lakers, and then the Lakers gain a single game on the GSW over the other 22. And for why my hopes aren’t any higher:
Spurs v. Rockets
OKC v. Utah
Clips v. GSW
Grizz v. Nuggets
That’s how it stands today. If all goes well, the Lakers will finish in the 8th spot. You can put the Rockets against OKC and Utah against the Clips, or you can flip the Rockets and Jazz, as I don’t really care. But if the rest holds up, given the brackets thing, I would assume that would mean that the Spurs v. Lakers winner goes against the Grizz v Nuggets winner in the second round. So make it Spurs v. Lakers and then Lakers v. Grizz/Nuggets. That would seem to be the easiest way to the Conference finals, i.e., avoiding both OKC and the Clips early.
In other words, you posit the team going so far as to surpass the Rockets, Utah, the GSW and the Nuggets. As the one fellow wrote on the last thread, that’s uber-optimistic. You can get the same desired result by simply moving the Jazz and Rockets up to 6 and 7, the GSW falling out of the playoffs, leaving the Lakers to inherit the 8th seed. The only difference would be playing the Spurs in round 1 instead of round 2. No biggie there. Might set them up for a good run if they knocked off the top seed in round 1 (i.e., such a result would presumably inspire some greater confidence). And let OKC and the Clips go to war in round 2. And then the Lakers can perhaps beat the battered survivor of that series and then face King James and Dwayne “The Punk” Wade in the Finals.
With Nash being off like a switch and Dwight re-aggravating that injured shoulder at the end of the second quarter, Kobe went into ‘Mamba Mode’ and kept us afloat in the 3rd quarter. Upon checking in mid 4th, he made his presence felt immediately offensively. With that being said, what I would like to point out is that quietly, but more importantly, late in the 4th, he took on the challenge of guarding the young kid, Lillard; who was beginning to have his way with Nash. If my memory serves correct, with Kobe locked in on him, Lillard was held to 1 basket from that moment fourth (albeit, a spectacular layin over damn near the whole team). All in all, a stand out performance by Kobe on both ends of the court. Particularly offensively, but also defensively when it counted.
Was taking a look at the schedules of those teams ahead of us for playoff spots and Houston seems to have the easiest path, while GS and Utah have considerably harder opponents. I’d rank our schedule somewhere between them and Houston. We probably won’t catch Houston, but If we’re able to maintain a 3 out of every 4 winning %, then I like our chances of leaping-frogging either GS or Utah for the 8th spot. Then again, that would mean a lovely first round match-up against the buzz-saw known as the Spurs…good times.
Funky Chicken says
That was a pretty entertaining game. With Pau out and Nash (and Blake) basically a no show, it was a good win against a motivated opponent that gave its best game in a while.
Damian Lillard looks like the 2nd coming of Russell Westbrook. Beautiful game by Kobe, and Dwight brought it for the 2nd straight game. A better effort from Nash and more of the same from Kobe and Dwight and the Lakers should be able to get a win in Dallas. Denver will be very tough, making tomorrows game practically a must win.
harvey M says
Slappy basically covered what I have been saying for some time….the best shot is against GSW, surprisingly, for a number of reasons, not least of which is that there are two games left with them. Also, Utah and Houston sadly are both playing really well. In the last month Utah has beaten both OKC and Miami at home, and Houston has a large number of big wins against quality opponents as well. Last nights victory by GSW over the Spurs didn’t help. So what we have to prepare for is that the Lakers continue to improve, play really well and still miss the playoffs. Hopefully that will still be viewed in a somewhat positive light and won’t lead to a blow up of the team, which would be a mistake, imho.
In any event, I think they need to go 20-6 over the last 26 to be in good shape. That would include wins in both games against GSW. Leaving aside the last 2 home games, which are the toughest and are against the Spurs and Houston, at which time much more info will be known they will need to go around 18-6 coming into those last 2. That’s 10 home games and 14 away, and I would say that is doable though very difficult by 10-0 at home and 8-6 on the road. Of the 10 home games, before the last 2 there are none that look unwinnable, though there is one against Memphis and one against Chicago to watch out for, and Toronto is a bit on the move now. Basically, they will involve taking care of business, winning a string of winnable games, with no mistakes or missteps. Not ideal that there is not even room for one loss in there, but that is what appears to be the size of the hole that needs to be climbed out of.
Of the 14 away games, the hard ones are vs. OKC, the clips (if you want to call that an away game) and Denver on a back to back and against Indiana which looks to be really asserting themselves as an elite team, but may be an ok matchup. After that again there are a bunch of winnable games against mid tier opponents (Milwaukee, Atlanta, for e.g.). So its doable but will require a level of consistently good play that we have not seen to date. Hopefully, Dwight’s re-emergence will continue as that appears to be the key.
Just hoping everyone is on the same page now. It’s one thing to be unified, give it your all and come up short; as opposed to failing due to self-implosion. Let’s go Lakers.
Don Ford says
Missed the game, but just watched that Kobe video. And what’s so impressive is that 80% of his shots are right there in the paint, little rollers, leaners, tricky layups and 6 footers. It’s all footwork and switching hands and using space. He’s so smart, and it’s such a pleasure to watch him so “easily” (as if) pick apart the D without resorting to the 22 foot double-coverage fallaways and such. Just quality basketball!
P. Ami says
Kobe’s ability to penetrate is as good as I’ve seen since 2009. He looks phenomenal. I don’t think his Mamba games are fewer and farther apart due aging but rather maturity. He seems to be doing a great job getting everyone involved and, in the long run, this will be the only way the team can be successful.
I’m just happy that the Lakers FO spent the All-Star break productively and traded for Dwight Howard. The 3rd quarter showed that his injuries can still effect his effort but he fought through and seemed to get his head back in the game by the 4th. He may not be fully engaged until next season but he looks much better.
If the Lakers manage a miracle, if Dwight has a fuller recovery in time for the playoffs, Pau’s leg issues settle down and he comes back ready to be the best back-up big since Bill Walton in ’86 (whose game, I think, is a pretty fair comp to Pau’s) getting 25 minutes a game, if Jamison can keep this up, etc… if the team manages another parade, I think all the players who stood up at Dr. Buss’ memorial should be put together on a float so we can all show our love for the Lakers family. That show of family love and dedication to this team certainly effected me, and it seems to have touched the current crop of players. It’s going to be hard. It’s an unlikely sequence of events that must be fulfilled. I’m just happy to see a team willing to fight and claw, to win ugly, to put a 1-10 shooting performance behind it and to find the next good shot and take it. I still have faith that the talent we thought would win out when the season started still has a chance to mesh properly and make a good long and glorious run. Either way, I’m proud to see them fight.
Gotta Love ‘Em Wizards!
Slappy: Liked your post: Made it all the way through and you really made it worth my while in that last sentence. Love it.
Yes – Wizards – I am going to go check the Rockets board to see what their version of Ken is saying : )
Jazz should also lose to the Clippers and the Celtics. If that happens and we win Denver, we’re going to be right in the thick of things!
Scott Burks says
Kobe is one of the best leaders in the NBA. And this is coming from a person who is not a big Kobe fan.
Hope early game isn’t a problem. Loss to Dallas will make make me a foul dude for Oscar Party.
Looking forward to meeting Lasorda, Tito Ortez, Wayne Gretzky, Norm Nixon and Wilkes to name a few who will be there tomorrow night. Much more then any actors etc.
Sure I will be arguing with some about Lakers. They need to win tomorrow.
yo we still need a backup big. Or just sign Raja Bell or something.
@Scott Burks – From the article.
“Howard also doesn’t strike me as the most mentally tough guy. He is so preoccupied with wanting to be liked by everybody, he just can’t block it all out and play his game. As the great Charles Barkley once said, no matter what you do there will always be some people who will hate you, so you might as well do you.”
The writer said that he dislikes Kobe because he believes that Kobe ran Shaq out of town. Did the writer just not infer that people will dislike you for various reasons that are perceived by them, so just do what makes you happy. Funny, how it’s okay for every player in the league to “do you” except Kobe. Even though it has been refuted over and over why Shaq left Los Angeles, people that hate Kobe still stick to the version of Kobe getting rid of Shaq.
Darius Soriano says
The Mavs preview is up.
Kenny T says
That video points up the adjustments Kobe has made over the years as Father Time has taken some of his athleticism away. He can still get to the basket for clever layups rather than soaring dunks. Same two points. And the man is awfully strong. He takes a beating in the post, yet always seems to find a way to punish his defender as well.