NEW ORLEANS -- It was the perfect metaphor for the Lakers' perfect start: a dagger 3-pointer by Kobe Bryant, with James Posey right in his grill, that staved off a New Orleans comeback and gave the Lakers a 93-86 win over the Hornets.
However, this win was impressive for much more than just a few displays of machismo. Most notably, the Lakers' defense suffocated the Hornets for three quarters, holding them to just 30 points in the first half.
That's impressive in any environment, but to do so on tired legs in a back-to-back, in a hostile venue, against a contender that had four days of rest and had circled the date on the calendar when the schedule came out ... folks, that was simply awesome. Especially since, as Phil Jackson pointed out before the game, early-season back-to-backs tend to be more difficult since not everyone has their sea legs yet.
L.A.'s defense is the main reason it's the unquestioned top dog in the NBA hierarchy at the moment, and Wednesday's first three quarters showed the biggest difference from a year ago: Bynum. It's not just that he's back -- it's that he's in shape, active and engaged. He was, in my estimation, far better defensively than he'd been before the injury last season.
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Well here's one doubter who has seemingly seen the light. Who's next?
Edited by daco_inc, November 13, 2008 - 01:14 AM.