Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Last night, the Lakers sprinted to a victory, stepping on the dejected bodies of the Cleveland Cavaliers on their way to a win. Tonight, they were faced with an uphill challenge; each 10-foot ascent followed by a 5-foot drop. Yet they refused to let up, no matter how quickly the younger climbers seemed to pass them by. These young Golden State Warriors are runners. They beat their opponents with their own carelessness, and then score time and again with their speed. But these veteran Lakers know a thing or two about patience and pace, and while they waited (maybe a little too long) to sprint over the final stretch, the Warriors just plain wore themselves out trying to outrun the old guys.

And the Lakers did look a step slow, especially compared to these young Warriors who live on fastbreak points and transition threes. At the heart of Golden State’s offensive engine is Monta Ellis, who burned the Lakers for 38 points on 15-26 (4-7 3PT). The man couldn’t be stopped. He shot over and around every purple uniform he met and played like he was all alone on the court. It didn’t matter who or how many defenders the Lakers threw at Ellis because, truth be told, they were invisible to him. The downside, however, is that he played all 48 minutes of the game. After scoring 31 points in the first three quarters, how much gas could he have in the tank, especially when he has to guard Mr. 4th Quarter, Kobe Bryant?

The outcome of the game swung in both teams’ directions all night, with Golden State maintaining leads that ranged from a single point to 14, and the Lakers playing catch-up to stay within striking distance. When the fourth quarter came around, however, Lamar Odom put his team atop his sore shoulder and got to work.

Entering the final 12 minutes of the game, Odom had scored a whopping…four points. Then he hit a couple of layups, made a couple of jumpers, rebounded then dunked a miss by Andrew Bynum and suddenly, the Lakers had the lead. Odom finished with 20 points on 8-13 and nine rebounds.

With just over 6:30 minutes left in the fourth, Kobe Bryant subbed back in and it was as if Odom handed over the imaginary baton to their anchor. Bryant didn’t waste any time. He drove in, tossed the ball up against the glass – swish and 1, his bandaged finger waving in that Dikembe-like fashion as he hit the ground and slid back. He followed that with a fadeaway jumper, then an assist to Ron Artest for three, and then he hit a three himself. After scoring just nine points in the first half, Bryant went off for 30 in the second, going 13-21, with six rebounds, four assists and three steals to end the night. He had five turnovers in the first half, yet only committed one in the second.

The Lakers shot 51.2% from the field and assisted on 26 of their 42 made field goals, scoring 46 points in the final quarter. They outrebounded the Warriors by 20 boards, with Bynum/Gasol/Odom alone combining for 34 rebounds to Golden State’s 27. There is much to improve as far as turnovers go (tonight they had 13, which isn’t awful but they could stand to take better care of the ball), and the defense (transition D in particular) needs reinforcing, as they gave up 53 points in the first half, and over 50% shooting to Golden State for the night.

After a few blowout wins, the Lakers needed a game like this to test their mettle. Unable to close some rather close games in most of their 11 losses, the defending Champions have since constantly had to prove themselves…to themselves and they’ve proven a lot in this six-game winning stretch.

With a 29-11 record, the season is almost half done. It appears the Lakers, as a team, have turned a corner as far as effort and focus go. Hopefully the last stretch of inconsistency has served its purpose and left…for good.

Box Score
Pre-game Thoughts
: This isn’t going to be a 55-point blowout, as tempting as it would be to hope for it. The Warriors can run and they can score quickly, so the Lakers need to limit their turnovers or Golden State will surely make them pay for it.
Half-time Thoughts: 45-53 – Monta Ellis has 23 points and Kobe Bryant has 5 of the Lakers’ seven turnovers. Guesses as to which team leader is going for an efficient night? After going on a run led by the play of Pau Gasol, the Lakers allowed the Warriors to get right back in with a slew of turnovers. L.A. gave up 20 transition points! Gasol leads the L.A. with 14 points, but Andrew Bynum’s only got seven, as the Lakers didn’t utilize their bigs until the 2nd quarter. L.A. better get their defensive rotations together or Golden State will fast break them to death.
Most Thoughtless Play/Player(s) of the Game: Been avoiding this for awhile because they do more than just score, but it’s got to be said – Steve Blake and Derek Fisher have lost their shot these last few games. Even though neither is relied upon to provide the bulk of the offense, they still need to find SOME efficiency in their field goal percentage.
Most Thought-filled Play/Player(s) of the Game: Kobe Bryant-Lamar Odom tandem – as Bryant sat the first six or so minutes of the final 12 minutes, Lamar Odom just took over, scoring 16 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter alone. If he’s not chosen as an All-Star this season, even as a sub, there really is no justice to that event’s voting system.

  • bostonSUCKS88

    Anna the score was 115-110

    • http://thelakersnation.com/blog/category/original-articles/benchmob-beat/ Anna Gonda

      My bad. Thanks.

  • Showtime4eva

    We played good. but they were hard to handle.

  • 242LakerFan

    Everyone knows that these Lakers have trouble with speed. That was a problem even before we swapped a youthful Ariza for an increasingly geriatric-looking Artest. This Warrior team is absolutely built around speed. Monta Ellis has always given us fits and last night he was absolutely incredible! He was hitting everything, with defenders draped all over him (when he hadn’t blown by every Laker on the floor) and I spent the whole fourth quarter wondering why Mitch hasn’t made a solid move for this guy before.
    The problem is that there isn’t a team in the league that can run for 48 straight minutes AND defend the post against Drew, Pau and Lamar at the same time. Something has to give, and when the Lakers are patient and consistent, like last night, the tortoise will eventually outpace the hare.
    Lamar is definitely All-Star worthy this year. He credits his marriage with focusing his mind. Anyone care to argue with the results? Not me.
    As for Kobe. Where is the aging, beat up, fading old superstar all the “experts” were talking about a few weeks ago? I saw the same Kobe I’ve seen for the last fifteen years; the killer mamba, waiting for his time to strike. Well, there are a bunch of Warriors and fans checking themselves for fang marks this morning because he was striking all over their candy asses!
    This is still a work in progress. The PG play, as Anna pointed out, has been off lately, but luckily the triangle is not so dependent on that. Still, they are struggling and their contributions will be needed. But not right away. I have faith that once the Playoffs come, we will be clicking on all cylinders.
    NWA

    • daboss1848

      straight out of compton

      • daboss1848

        stick to the script, hack.

    • Leaderfish

      That is the same kobe but the only problem is we don’t see that kobe consistently anymore. I hope this game doesn’t give kobe to jack up shots anytime he wants but then again, we know kobe.

      • WNBAscout

        Te gusta manuela en tu boca pinche.

        • Leaderfish

          Es Kobe, dick en la boca?

        • 242LakerFan

          You are on the wrong site. I think the site you are trying to find is fakelatinoswithlatenthomosexualtendencies.com or something like that.

        • 242LakerFan

          That’s fake-latinos-with-latent-homosexual-tendencies.com

  • ilikebasketball

    is it just me or does monta ellis travel a lot?

    he is great….but there were times when he would spring through the defense on the floor for a layup and i swore he would take three, if not 4, steps to get past our big men. and it happens so fast i’m sure it’s hard to tell…it happened so fast maybe i’im wrong.

    • http://thelakersnation.com/blog/category/original-articles/benchmob-beat/ Anna Gonda

      These small guards (like Chris Paul and Steve Nash) are guilty of traveling and carrying the ball, but they rarely, IF EVER, get called on it.

      • ilikebasketballl

        I suppose that is true. I’ve just never been so aware of it until last night.
        Maybe the problem has to do with the age of the refs. They can’t keep up with the speed of the new guys.

  • Short Dog Loc

    Another W.
    Lakers going on a RUN.
    spurs suck
    Lakers#1

  • Tecun

    Great summary Anna, and a truly awesome win for the Purple and Gold.

  • gameplan

    I don’t know what monta has achieve last night? was that his 20th something game that has 20 or more points in the first half that tied with only kobe? I really thought monta is going to outmatch kobe, but I’m just impatient and lose my trust to kobe to take over games. Good game by monta though, but he must learn from kobe how to finish games.

    • 242LakerFan

      The man played 48 minutes AND he was guarding Kobe. You can’t blame anyone for falling short under those circumstances.
      As for Kobe even in his twenties he couldn’t take over and win EVERY game. Even MJ failed sometimes. Keep the faith. Kobe’s not done yet.

  • In └A We Trust.

    Kobe’s just pacing.