After what happened in the first quarter of the New Orleans game last Friday, and Sunday in Houston, the Lakers looked down and out. Not only could they not stop a point guard, they couldn’t find a way to put the ball in the hole over a consistent period of time.

They looked dead in the water, like a team in search of its soul.

The Lakers task on the rest of the road trip would not be any easier going against the two best home teams in the NBA without Bynum, Gasol, and Ariza. So what do the Los Angeles Lakers do?

They jumped all over the Dallas Mavericks in the 1st half opening a huge lead, 59-38 to be exact. It looked over in Big D, to say the least. Then some trait of Lakers teams from the past popped up; they seemed to lose their killer instinct, and began playing non-aggressive style of basketball. When you do that, the calls always seem to go against you as frustration builds.

A spectacular Kobe 360 no-look lay up, and some big shots by Vlad, allowed the Lakers to persevere and escape Dallas with a 102-100 victory. Kobe said after the game, “We had to stop the bleeding. We got a big lead, but it wasn’t the way we wanted to close out the game. But we got the win.”

Then the really tough cookie, a showdown with the hated ones from the mid-west, the Utah Jazz. And just like Kobe said, after how the Utah fans treated us and most importantly Derek Fisher the last time the Lakers were in Utah, this was personal. The Lakers first half was almost as good as the Lakers could possibly play. Lamar Odom and Ronny Turiaf were aggressive, and Luke wasn’t messing up too bad.

Then Utah comes roaring back, cutting into the 24 point lead, but the Lakers showed everyone something, this was not Dallas, and Utah was not getting back into the game. The Lakers were able to counter every single run by the Utah Jazz, as Derek Fisher, Jordan Farmar, and “The Machine,” all hit big shots.

Kobe’s ferocious dunk put the game away for good, as the Lakers were popping their jerseys, while the Utah Jazz fans were throwing stuff on the court leaving one to wonder if they had watched the fiasco at the Palace in Auburn Hills.

Over the last two games, the Los Angeles Lakers have looked like champions. I don’t know what’s more impressive, that the Lakers are playing at such a high level, or the fact that they are doing it without three key pieces to the puzzle. The Championship Swag is back in LA to say the least.

As the road trip came to rest last night in Utah, I looked backed at the questions that the Lakers had to answer on the big test…

1. Did they match up against each team? Well, seeing as they did not have Pau Gasol except for about 2 minutes, I say the Lakers did a superb job, they were in all four games, and were able to win in the toughest places to play in the NBA.

2. Did the Lakers regain focus? They answer to the question is an obviously Duh!

3. Did the Lakers add Ira Newble? Well as of Friday morning, the reports were that Ira has decided to sign with the Los Angeles Lakers over Cleveland. What a big boost this will be to our bench. He will do some of the things defensively that Luke Walton just can’t do, and should be a great addition as the Lakers seek the promise land.

4. Did Kobe clinch the MVP on trip? Well if his last two performances did not clinch that guy the MVP this season I don’t know what will. So to quote one of my favorite guys in the history of basketball Sir Charles Barkley, “if Kobe does not win the MVP this year, those voters are numskulls.”

The desire is back! The swagger is back. The roller coaster ride that the Lakers have been on this past year is starting to get real exciting, as the anticipation of the returns of injured 7 footers Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum draw closer. Now the homestretch is here and we are rounding 3rd, hopefully we don’t get thrown out at the plate.

The Cougar is a TLN Staff contributor, you can contact him at TheCougar@theLakersNation.com.

  • http://lakers.com k0be da 1 andonly

    “ALL DAY MUTHA*****S, ALL DAY! “

  • Lakers 24 7

    Im so pumped right now, LETS DO THIS!!
    I THINK WE CAN WIN THE REST OF THE GAMES LEFT IN THE SEASON

  • LytesOut

    The HUNGER was back last night. You can just see how bad the Lakers want to win again. Now with Andrew and Pau coming back, I think we’ll be unstoppable!

    If you guys are intersted in going to one of the final Laker games, I have some tickets I am selling. You can email me at christopherlat@gmail.com if you are interested. Here are my prices:

    2 seats (together) Section 304, Row 15

    03/26/08 – vs. Charlotte Bobcats – $30 (per ticket)
    03/30/08 – vs. Washington Wizards – $40 (per ticket)
    04/04/08 – vs. Dallas Mavericks – $90 (per ticket)
    04/11/08 – vs. New Orleans Hornets – $80 (per ticket)
    04/13/08 – vs. San Antonio Spurs – $150 (per ticket)
    04/15/08 – vs. Sacramento Kings – $40 (per ticket)

    I can send the hard tickets, or I can email them to you. I accept paypal only. These tickets also get you into the Royal Room at the Staples Center. Email me if you’re interested or if you have any questions: christopherlat@gmail.com

    GO LAKERS!

  • DCLAKER

    Do y’all know the strength these guys have now with Ira on board but the REAL SCARY thing is they don’t have AB/Magnum T.A. and thank goodness PAU!PAU!PAU!comes back Sunday,GET SOON MAGNUM T.A.(TrEvOr aRiZa)!!!

  • xtro

    Will Ariza come back before the playoffs? Will Mihm practice with the team as reported? Welcome to L.A. Ira!!

  • ab17

    LytesOut
    Mar 21st, 2008 at 11:21 am
    The HUNGER was back last night. You can just see how bad the Lakers want to win again. Now with Andrew and Pau coming back, I think we’ll be unstoppable!

    If you guys are intersted in going to one of the final Laker games, I have some tickets I am selling. You can email me at christopherlat@gmail.com if you are interested. Here are my prices:

    2 seats (together) Section 304, Row 15

    03/26/08 – vs. Charlotte Bobcats – $30 (per ticket)
    03/30/08 – vs. Washington Wizards – $40 (per ticket)
    04/04/08 – vs. Dallas Mavericks – $90 (per ticket)
    04/11/08 – vs. New Orleans Hornets – $80 (per ticket)
    04/13/08 – vs. San Antonio Spurs – $150 (per ticket)
    04/15/08 – vs. Sacramento Kings – $40 (per ticket)

    I can send the hard tickets, or I can email them to you. I accept paypal only. These tickets also get you into the Royal Room at the Staples Center. Email me if you’re interested or if you have any questions: christopherlat@gmail.com

    GO LAKERS!

    are u serious?

  • lalakerfan

    [Comment ID #30088 Will Be Quoted Here]

    Is that what Kobe said? Haha. When was that?

  • ab17

    it was in the final seconds of the game

  • ab17
  • vida24

    [Comment ID #30088 Will Be Quoted Here]

    amen !

  • LytesOut

    [Comment ID #30101 Will Be Quoted Here]

    yes.

  • foxxy

    WE ARE FINALLY READY !!!!!

  • Phant0M

    RINGSSSSSSSSS

  • DCLAKER

    Who here at LAKERNATION is lovin’ the way VLADI “THE DESTRYER” (someone on this site made that name up,LOVE IT)is playing?!?

  • Lakers 24 7

    [Comment ID #30106 Will Be Quoted Here]

    LOL Turiaf to Kirelinko, “Is your wife here, tell her I said Hi” lolll Turiaf must have said Hi to her a few times in person lol

  • Lakers 24 7

    [Comment ID #30130 Will Be Quoted Here]

    Vlad is a good player, hes just always out with these minor injuries, wrist sprain, calf strain..but hes good when hes healthy

  • KO_BEliever

    can someone PLS give me the link when kobe said “all day muthafucka, all day”???????

  • DCLAKER

    KO_BELiever,go to YOUTUBE and type in yesterdays game(lakers vs. jazz’08 is all you need)and right around the time when Kobe throws the ball over his head to LO and he dunks it,he basically SRCEAMS IT,enjoy!

  • http://swishtheball.net em and em jr.

    now we hy to many SFs lamar, vlad, t.a. newble, snd fluke, kobe even sometimes plays sf

    trade fluke, i’d rather have shaq lol :-) lol :-(

  • Sako

    [Comment ID #30163 Will Be Quoted Here]

    i dont here him screaming after the pass the lamar at the end

  • Smush Walton

    What a relief Vlad has started to play well again. We need him to make up for Smush Walton’s horrendous play.

    After this season we need to look into shipping Smush Walton out of here and Mihm too. This guy is always hurt and is just taking up space on the roster, as is Smush.

  • DCLAKER

    Not screamin’ the way you think but he said it loud enough or your probably on the wrong one(go to the one that is 2:52).

  • Sako

    is it this? cause i see kobe saying something at 2:31, but i cant hear him

  • DCLAKER

    Turn your volume all the way up.

  • Sako

    thanks, just heard it

  • http://lakers.topbuzz.com Lakers2410

    Is Gasol really returning on Sunday vs. the Warriors? If so, “YEAH! WOOH! HEEOOH!”, and if not, then…I’m going to kill the whole Hornets roster (even though it’s not really they’re fault, it still happened there in their stadium! But anyways…the Lakers are leading by 23, 122-99 with 2:39 left in the 4th so…we’d better not lose! LOL! We’d also better not not get a 8-game winning streak (I say 8 because I don’t know about Blazers…)! P.S. If you want to go to San Diego at this time of year, please, do “NOT” wear black or pants or long-sleeved shirts or jackets ot sweaters or any warm clothing, just go to a pool and stay awhile. But mostly, “DON’T WEAR ANY BLACK CLOTHING!”

  • Sako

    [Comment ID #30196 Will Be Quoted Here]

    why no black clothing?

  • Jack

    wow. when will we lock our playoff birth though? jezzz… screw the west man. it’s more madness than march madness.

  • http://thelakersnation.com/blog/?page_id=2373 Jonny

    [Comment ID #30196 Will Be Quoted Here]

    latest reports say that he will be out for both Warriors games

  • west213

    LMAO TURIAF YOU H O R N Y FREAK!

  • kwame walton

    TRADE FLUKE FOR SMUSH PARKER AND KWAME BROWN STAIN
    TRADE FLUKE FOR BRIAN COOK AND BILL WALTON

  • west213