This was not supposed to happen tonight. No way the Lakers were going to extend their winning streak over the Nets to 10 straight, especially with news that Metta World Peace would be serving a one-game suspension for his flagrant foul against the Pistons, and Dwight Howard sitting again with his aggravated shoulder injury. But hold EVERYTHING! These are the Lakers we are talking about, and this is the Hollywood ending everyone has been waiting on.
The Lakers stayed consistent by blowing another double digit lead, but withstood the Nets’ body blows and upper cuts, and came back to win in dramatic fashion. Jay Z and Beyonce sat front and center, listening to a large Laker contingent chanting M-V-P for Kobe Bryant as the final seconds were ticked off the clock. Now that, my Laker friends, is what I call showing up for the purple and gold.
With their 92-83 win tonight, the Lakers have now won 6 of their last 7 games, and have suddenly discovered what seemed to elude them most of this season. Players have finally begun accepting their roles and the minutes (or lack of ) that come with them. They have started trusting in each other and showing they still have a pulse come crunch time in the fourth quarters of games. The Lakers held Brooklyn to under 35% from the floor, keeping them scoreless in the final 2:33, while they scored the last nine points to put this game on ice. They accomplished all this with Pau Gasol leaving midway through the final quarter with an apparent foot injury. His departure left Antawn Jamison and Earl Clark to do battle with Brook Lopez on the boards the rest of the way. Clark played 41 minutes, scored 14 points, grabbed 12 boards, and threw in a block & a steal for good measure. Jamison put up nine points and eight rebounds. Not too shabby all things considered.
This win was huge for the Lakers. It kept the momentum train firmly on the tracks, and the confidence meter is soaring to a new altitude. Speaking of altitudes, Kobe Bryant added more highlight film to his already endless reel of footage. He had 21 points, eight rebounds, four assists, and four steals. Overshadowing all those stats was the crossover move he put on Gerald Wallace and the thunderous dunk on a helpless Nets defense. Let’s not forget about Steve Nash and the value he brought to the court tonight. He displayed the whole arsenal of moves and shot variations, while scoring 17 points and dishing out eight assists. Pau Gasol had 15 points on the evening as well.
Don’t get me wrong, the Nets contributed to this win tonight as well. They came into the game with clear player mismatches, but simply didn’t game plan well enough to exploit them. With the likes of Deron Williams and Joe Johnson against Nash and Steve Blake, you have got to take advantage better than they did. The handful of times Williams posted on Nash, he had decent results, and Johnson had a distinct height advantage over both Nash and Blake. The bottom line, however, is they didn’t go to the well enough and they came up dry. Brook Lopez had a double-double, but missed some key shots down the stretch.
All that being said, serious props have to be given to Blake tonight. He provided a spark off the bench, allowing Bryant and Nash much needed minutes off the floor, and scored the first seven points of the fourth quarter. I’m quite sure the Nets were not expecting that to happen. And so you have it, game balls galore for many heroes tonight, and more importantly, a big old injection of ,”We have turned the corner”.
So it’s goodbye Brooklyn, hello Boston. The Celtics await, and they will be ready. Something tells me we have a bit of history with this team. Oh well, as the barber always says……NEXT!