Midway into the five game road trip, the Lakers have a record of 2-1, and have two more games on Monday and Wednesday.
The Lakers came into the road trip on fire, winning six straight games and looking to extend their streak at San Antonio.
The San Antonio Spurs came into last Wednesday’s game with the sixth seed at 42-27. The Lakers were very familiar with the Spurs and could possible meet them in the Playoffs this season. “We’re relatively familiar with San Antonio,” Jackson said. “They played us in the playoffs a year ago. We have a rivalry that goes back a long ways. We have some sense of who they are and how they play.” Even with All-Star guard Tony Parker out, the Spurs were still very talented, and with George Hill leading the point, the Spurs were looking for an upset.
The game was aggressive ofF the bat, and in the first quarter Lamar Odom put in 10 while Hill had 14 on 5-7 shooting. The Lakers were outscored in both of the opening quarters and were down 48-41 at the half. The Spurs had all the momentum going into the third, but the Lakers made adjustment and came out firing.
The third quarter saw the Lakers outscore the Spurs 30-18, and going into the final period up 71-66.
The fourth quarter was a similar story sas the Lakers cruised past the Spurs; with the final score of 92-83. The game was changed after the Lakers resurgence in the second half. ““In the first half we blew a lot of assignments, which was something we were trying to minimize as we had guys wide open in during our rotation.”, Kobe said on the second half. He also added, “We simply made adjustments”.
Kobe Bryant had 24 points, 6 assists, 4 rebounds and moved into 12th place on the NBA All-Time scoring list, surpassing Alex English. Lamar Odom also had a good game with 19 points and 13 rebounds.
The Lakers entered Friday’s game versus the Oklahoma City Thunder at 53-18 and looked to win their eight straight game. Kevin Durant had yet to beat Kobe and the Lakers, but the young star came rolling off the gate and his team matched his intensity.
Most Laker fans knew that something was wrong when Phil Jackson called a time-out being down 4-0. The game was essentially over after the first when the Thunder had a 27-15 lead and were shooting 48% from the field, while the Lakers shot a dismal 30%. They also shot 0-4 from the 3, 2 assists and 6 turnovers.
The second quarter was no different as the Lakers were outscored 26-29 and finished the half shooting 37%, a pathetic 4 assists and 11 turnovers. The team’s leading scorer was Lamar at 12, and Kobe had 11 with only 4 for 10 shooting.
Most Laker fans were hoping for a third quarter comeback, but that did not happen. The Thunder keep shooting the lights out and won the third quarter by 14, 27-13. Kobe was benched from the end of the third and the entire fourth quarter. The bench was put into the game and made the margin less embarrassing. The score was 80-47 at the beginning to the fourth, but luckily finished 91-75 to end the game.
The 75 points scored by the Lakers was the lowest in the Pau Gasol era; Kobe had a horrible game with only 11 points and 9 turnovers. Only two Lakers had a double-digit scoring game and the bench put up 31 points.
“They have speed and quickness. They beat us to all the balls. They were just quicker than we were in all areas of the game”, Phil on Friday’s game. He also added, “Offensively, we didn’t shoot the ball well and they had a big difference in that. They do have quickness and that is the strength of their team. We had to at least match their energy if we can’t match their speed.”
Although the Lakers’ winning streak came to an end, and a perfect road trip could no longer be accomplished, Saturday’s game at Houston pleased Laker fans.
The Lakers met up with former teammate Trevor Ariza, who only had 9 points on 3 for 11 shooting. The first quarter however, was closely contested and the Rockets led 34-27.
The second quarter was a whole different story as the Lakers outscored the Rockets 35-11, consisting of a 20-0 run and went to the half shooting 57% from the field. Fisher, Kobe and Pau all reached double-digits by the half, while Lamar grabbed 10 rebounds.
The second half saw the Lakers expand their lead and take over the game. The Rockets did make a fourth quarter push, but the lead was too overwhelming and the Lakers won 109-101. Kobe had a near triple-double with 17 points, 10 rebounds and 9 assists. Lamar Odom had another great game with 13 points and 13 rebounds; but Pau Gasol outshined his teammates as he put in 30 points and grabbed 8 rebounds.
Saturday’s performance was far better than Friday’s game, as the Lakers played great offensively and showed much more effort. “We executed better. We came out and ran our offence the way we are supposed to”, Kobe on Saturday’s game vs. Friday’s game. He also added, “Our defense is very solid but there are nights that we just don’t show up defensively. Defense was the key to our second quarter.”
So far so good for the Lakers, they may have been blown out by the Thunder, but I still believe that will be their only loss. With the absence of Andrew Bynum; Lamar Odom has stepped up and has averaged 15.6 points and 11 rebounds per game.
With a game against the Hornets and Hawks, there is a good chance that the Lakers close out the road trip with a three game win streak.
Our success depends on the amount of energy and focus, as well as the play of the Lamar Odom. Every team has to face some challenges during their season, and facing those challenges is a key feature in Championship teams.
Phil Jackson put it best, “It’s a challenge, we’ll see if these guys meet that challenge.”