Sometimes it takes awhile for new players to weave themselves in through the fabric of a team’s system. Sometimes adding new faces can dramatically affect a group’s dynamic (and not always in a good way). Then there are other times when a new set of tendencies and attitudes come in, observe for a minute and before you know it, it’s as if they’d been there the whole time.

For veterans Steve Blake, Matt Barnes and Theo Ratliff, not to mention rookies, Devin Ebanks and Derrick Caracter, getting handpicked to join the two-time NBA championship Lakers is pressure enough. Trying to learn the nuances of the triangle offense and then having to execute it come game time is a whole other challenge. In the seventh game of the pre-season, however, the newcomers not only appear ready to start defending the team’s NBA title, they’ve started to play like it.

54 points on 24-36 (4-7 from 3-point land), 20 assists, 11 rebounds, seven steals and five blocks – This is the stat line for the Lakers bench filled with new players, and that was with Lamar Odom, not to mention Sasha Vujacic, both in the starting line-up.

Steve Blake led the bench with 18 points and seven assists and his value to this team cannot be stated enough. In a system that revels in its passers, Blake is a natural fit. A true playmaker for himself and his teammates, he literally sees the court in seemingly 360 degree fashion. Whether it is driving to the hoop and stopping midway to pass to Lamar Odom for an open three, or leading a break and laying it up himself to get the contact and be rewarded, or hitting spot-up three-pointers, Blake does it all

In Blake’s company is Matt Barnes, who can play a myriad of positions and play each of them well. Signed for his known defensive savvy, Barnes is also a shooter, hitting back to back three’s tonight to show for it. He finished with 10 points on 4-7. He comes into the game to replace various players – Bryant at the two, Ron Artest at the three and at times even Lamar Odom at the four, depending on the size of the line-up needed. Versatility – it’s not a bad thing.

The Lakers bench is a deep one this season, from sixth man to 14th man. Luke Walton, back from injury, contributed five points and two steals. Shannon Brown, showing more confidence and consistency in his shot selections, finished with 13 points, five assists (including a lob for a spectacular Devin Ebanks dunk), three rebounds and three steals. And speaking of the young rookie, who was much heralded by Kobe Bryant during a sideline interview with John Ireland, is shaping up to be a real contributor to this team.

Shooting 56% for the game (10-17 from three, 58.8%), the Lakers came back strong from their poor showing two nights ago against Utah when no shots were falling. Derek Fisher and Pau Gasol took on offensive responsibilities early with Kobe Bryant sitting on the sidelines. Fisher had 8 points, 3-4 from the field, making 2-2 from downtown. With a driving lay-up against the younger, quicker Stephen Curry on his tail, Fisher reminds once again that 35 year olds can still play like they’re 25.

Pau Gasol went 8-13 from the field to get his 23 points, and he got them in every which way – baby hooks, face-up jumpers, a pretty up and under move and a perfect 7-7 from the free throw line. If Bryant’s knee requires more time to get back into game shape, and as long as Andrew Bynum is out, Gasol is the best that the Lakers’ offense has to offer.

It was a nice win for the Lakers, and a great showing for the new and improved Bench Mob. The saying goes, “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it,” but if you can make it run faster, jump higher, shoot and defend better, then by all means tinker away. That’s exactly what Mitch Kupchak and the Lakers’ front office spent the summer doing quietly and with little fanfare. Who needs bells and whistles (or one-hour specials) when the playing speaks for itself?

Box Score
Pre-Game Thoughts:
No Kobe and no Phil tonight, but newly engaged Sasha Vujacic and back-from-injury Luke Walton have been activated and Brian Shaw gets to steer the ship.
Half-Time Thoughts: 52-55 – It’s been a fast-paced, quick scoring first half, which is to be expected when you’re playing a run and gun, scoring team like the Golden State Warriors, and especially when neither team is playing much defense.
Most Thoughtless Player(s) of the Game: Last night, it was the Lakers’ offense that lacked. Tonight, it was the Lakers’ defense, as in they barely played any. Sure there were passing lanes interrupted and balls were deflected and fast breaks began, but other than that there wasn’t much resistance from the purple and gold.
Most Thought-filled Player(s) of the Game: The Laker reserves as a whole were on point tonight, but Steve Blake, second only to Pau Gasol in scoring, had 18 points on 8-10 and led the game with seven assists. If people were still wondering why he was acquired, they will have found out tonight.

  • John Robertson

    nice win for the Lakers, good to hear that we have a capable bench not to mention a solid bench.

    i hope that Ebanks and Caracter will see in action more often.

  • http://57.amklac laffs atu

    bryant missed how many shots?

    • Drake

      As much as the amount of rings LeBron has.

      • LakerNationCitizen


        I watched some of that Miami-Atlanta game (which Miami lost, but who cares it’s preseason) – and I can’t believe how much these NBA commentators still say that LeBron is all that! He ain’t all that – he ain’t got no ring. He’s a good player – is he great, NOPE!

    • Anna Gonda

      Kobe didn’t even play in this game, fool. At least pretend you have crap to back up your useless commentary.

    • laffs atu!

      Lebra missed how many games so far?

  • Robert.

    LNC – ur right! The media are acting like an abused spouse; first, they get hurt by ‘the Decision’, and then they turn around and fawn all over LBJ.
    Recall when Kobe would score 35+, the media were waiting in the wings to claim that “Kobe is selfish”, and would try to prove it by providing ‘win/loss statistics’ versus number of points Kobe scores. In this game, LBJ scored 38 points, but the heat lost. No biggie, right?
    Although, I did hear ‘one’ person say that the heat look like the cavs. That was refreshing, and I think it’s going to be true. LeBron did ‘not’ have a completely untalented team in Cleveland. But I could swear they would all stand around at times waiting for LeBron to make a decision on what offense move to make. They lived and died by LeBron. What I’d like to know is – WWWD (what will Wade do?). How’s he really going to work with LeFauxKing?

  • Robert.

    Another thing. Can we please come up with a ‘new’ name for the Bench Mob? Anna, do you have any ideas? I think someone requested this a while ago, and solicited new ideas. To me, the Bench Mob was the 2007-08 group consisting of the bench. This is a new crop of players – only a few from the original Mob.
    … although — 3Banks does look a little like Ariza (haha – he’s already tired of that comparison).

    • Anna

      Funny you should say that, Robert, because I was trying to think of a new name last night. These group of reserves look and play nothing like the old bench so I agree they need a new identifying title. I’ve got a few but they’re lame so I’ll keep thinking. You guys keep thinking too!

  • DrewDizzle

    New name:


    :-) hahaha

  • jtshoopsblog

    GSW is no competition for the Lake show.

  • http://57.amklac/ laffs atu

    it` s hilarious to see some of you, like the poster above me, get so excited over a preseason win against the warriors,,,,,,,,,it` s not like they beat the celtics or heat.

    • Wilt

      Actually we beat the celtics a couple of months ago. And miami gets their beating in a few months.

    • Anna Gonda

      Weren’t you the one who made a big deal about the Celtics being 2-0 earlier in the pre-season? And we’re not excited about the win itself. We’re excited about how the team is playing.
      The Celtics are old and the Heat? The regular season hasn’t even started yet and they’ve already got two major injuries. They haven’t even played as whole yet. Those two teams have way more to prove than TWO TIME DEFENDING CHAMPIONS.

  • http://57.amklac laffs atu

    its a new season asshole , your beloved lakers haven`t beaten anyone……douche nozzle,rat-lover.

    • Wilt

      Yes its a new season yet you persist with this 6-24 crap so convince yourself its a new season.

    • laffs atu!

      it’s a new season my good man! our beloved Lakers are on the quest for a three peat!….I’m such a douche nozzle, rat lover…….keepin it real!

      • laffs atu!

        GO LAKERS!……………..keepin it real!

  • shawnmcgarrity

    Hey Laker fans, ready to roll? So am I! Sweating the Heat? Neither am I! Worried about the Celtics? Me neither, no Irsh luck there! Lets roll- 3PEAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!