Back to back blowouts for the Lakers – but this time they were on the winning end, and thank goodness for that. One win against the team with the fourth worst road record in the league may not be a cause for rejoicing, but based on the Lakers’ last few losses (and even some wins); a blowout is just the thing to provide some temporary comfort…for us fans anyway.
One big difference (actually, it can ALWAYS be the difference if only they’d stop forgetting) the home team provided tonight was the play of their three big men. Repeated to the point of exhaustion, the Lakers’ biggest advantage (other than having Kobe Bryant on their team that is) is, truly their BIGGEST advantage. The three talented towers of the purple and gold combined for 50 points, 22 rebounds and eight assists. If Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum and Lamar Odom had this kind of production for every game, the Lakers are more likely to win than not – and they know it.
At the half, Pau Gasol (21 points on 7-11, seven rebounds, two steals and a block) led the game with 13 points, scoring on layups, dunks and even a stepback jumper here and there. His teammates fed him the ball and he capitalized. Aside from a few lazy defensive possessions on his part, Gasol was again clicking offensively, receiving a pass from Lamar Odom and then striding to the basket in one fell swoop for a hoop.
Andrew Bynum, with eight first quarter points, subbed out after just a minute into the second when he picked up his third foul. It appeared his evening was destined to be mired in foul trouble, but the young center played the second half and fouled no more, and it wasn’t because he stayed off his opponent. Bynum technically only had one block, but his big body sure altered a slew of other Detroit attempts to score. Bynum, it has to be noted, had a perfect 6-6 from the field and 1-1 from the charity stripe for his 13 points and his offensive game has developed into more than just a scorer – he’s learning to be a playmaker now too. One notable pass came when he grabbed an offensive rebound, then passed right around Jason Maxiell to hand the rock to an open Odom for a hoop. It’s not surprising he led the way in the +/- column with a +30.
Odom (16 points, nine rebounds, four assists) came off the bench and did what he does best – bring the speed game to the floor with the rest of the reserves. He does it every time – rebound the ball on the defensive end and run it back straightaway for a hoop and no one in a Detroit uniform tried to stop him. If he’s not rebounding and scoring, he’s rebounding then passing on a fast break; tonight rewarding everyone from Gasol, to Steve Blake, to Shannon Brown, all on the run.
Derek Fisher and Ron Artest did their job on the defensive end tonight. Fisher was all over Ben Gordon and Artest appeared more alert, intercepting passes and even getting in a fast break dunk.
Kobe Bryant, however, practically stole the show. Even after going 0-9 in the first quarter, Bryant eventually got over the hump, going for 6-9 the rest of the way and in the process surpassing Dominique Wilkins to occupy the 10-spot on the NBA all-time scoring list. He also teetered a triple-double stat line, with 17 points, seven rebounds and eight assists.
The Lakers actually played a near-complete game tonight that, for once in a long time, wasn’t tainted with a slew of senseless turnovers. They had zero giveaways in the first 12 minutes and didn’t commit their first until there were only two more minutes left in the half. For the night they only had six turnovers. The cause for such a clean game, other than being more conscious? Ball movement!
29 assists on 42 makes – that’s sharing the rock and, as it always is, the Lakers were better for it. They utilized their bigs, moved the ball, and played defense. Heck, Joe Smith even scored his first points as a Laker. It was that kind of night for the defending champs. Hopefully, it’s the first of many…in the near future, beginning tomorrow with Phoenix.
Pre-game Thoughts: Just win…
Half-time Thoughts: 42-45 – The Lakers only have two turnovers, but they’ve allowed Detroit into the paint time and time and time again. The Pistons are shooting 52% with the Lakers shooting just 41%. Kobe Bryant started just 0-9 in the first quarter but has since hit 4 of his last 6 shots. Pau Gasol leads all scores with 13 points. Andrew Bynum has eight points but took an early exit in the 2nd quarter after picking up his third foul. The Lakers need to pick it up defensively if they want to win this game.
Most Thoughtless Player(s) of the Game: Matt Barnes – Except for a couple of rebounds and a block, he hasn’t been doing much of anything lately.
Most Thought-filled Player(s) of the Game: The Laker big men played like it today, but tonight it was Kobe Bryant doing it all. He was on the verge of a triple double, and would’ve gotten it had he played in the fourth quarter. Other than a typical night of work, he also passed Dominique Wilkins to be 10th on the NBA all-time scoring list.