For the third game in a row, John Ireland asked the Laker chosen for his post-game interview if this game just played was the best team win they’ve had all season. Either 1) John is finally running out of questions or 2) Teamwork has been so prominent in every win that John can’t help but ask.

Unless our eyes have deceived us these last few days, the reason for these dominating wins is owed, in large part, to efficient TEAM WORK.

Teamwork on defense — staying active and alert, helping on double teams and then recovering quickly back to your man.

In his post-game interview, Jordan Farmar cited their greater attention to detail on both sides of the court as a source of their recent success. The Lakers will never have a problem scoring. The entire roster is full of scorers, but it was forcing eight Utah turnovers and grabbing seven steals that got them that 15-point lead in the first half, not just their 48% FG. And as far as the Lakers’ inability to defend quick point guards, like Deron Williams, who was held to 3-9 shooting tonight? What team finds it easy to defend Chris Paul, Steve Nash or Deron Williams one-on-one? Good job on D-Will this evening.

Teamwork on offense — less isolation and more ball movement. With 19 assists, but 17 turnovers for the night, it wasn’t the Lakers’ cleanest game. The 19 assists, however, were distributed by eight different players (Brown, Gasol and Vujacic each led with four), a glaring comparison to a Jazz team who thrives on Deron Williams’ direction (he alone had 10 dimes).

A small reason for the Lakers’ recent wins without Kobe Bryant in the line-up, is the spread of ball-handling responsibilities. In the triangle offense, there is no need for a pure point guard, which is why it’s always so baffling when “experts” cite this position as the Lakers’ greatest weakness when it’s not a position that their offense necessitates.

Tonight, as it was against Portland and the Spurs, the Lakers won by tapping into their other strengths not named Kobe Bryant. They played up to their size (47 points, 30 rebounds between Odom and Gasol), their bench didn’t just fill in minutes for the starters (Farmar had 18 points, 4-4 from downtown and Sasha had more assists, 4, than points, 3) and they didn’t lose their focus or their stride when the lead went from 20 to 12.

In one exciting sequence, Sasha Vujacic stole the ball from C.J. Miles, ran down the court, passed to a sprinting Farmar who passed to a trailing D.J. Mbenga for a crashing dunk. When Gasol and Odom are sitting on the bench watching a line-up of reserves swell the lead to 15 points in the first half (obviously not garbage time), the night had to end well… and it certainly did.

This 3-game winning streak is not a long one. It can barely be called a streak when compared to what this team has accomplished before. But it was a streak of wins against terrible odds (the losing streak in Portland), against a (finally) healthy play-off contender (San Antonio), and against an exceptional home team (Utah); all double-digit wins and all without their young starting center and best player.

These wins were for their injured teammates who couldn’t join them on the court. It was for their hustle all week long. This win was for everyone who wanted to count the Lakers out.

Pre-game Thoughts: Kobe still out, Andrew still out, and Lamar has a sore foot. In one of the most difficult arenas to play in, this will be a close one.

Half-time Thoughts: 15-point lead against the Jazz IN Utah. If the Lakers win this game, it will be their most impressive win to date.

Most Thoughtless Player of the Game: Luke Walton, 0-5; Ron Artest, 1-7; Derek Fisher, 2-6?

Most Thought-filled Player of the Game: Pau and Lamar had dominant games, but tonight’s going to the Machine, Sasha Vujacic, for his four assists, two rebounds and three steals. See? There’s more to the game than the 3-point line.

  • 09champs!

    Nice report. Before everybody starts complaining, we clearly know that both LO and Pau played out of their minds, especially LO going 12-13 from the stripe!
    But i agree here that Sasha might deserve a mention in this one, i know he shot just 1-4 and missed 2 ft´s in a row ( his first misses of the season from there) ,but he played extremely well on the other aspects of his game. Just tell me, wasn´t it great to see him getting under Ronnie Price´s skin like he used to do with other players when he played defense? I just like the way he is contributing again and I´m starting to gain the lost confidence in him also, as well as Jordy, everybody is finding a way to contribute :)

  • matthew

    john ireland is annoyingg… but what can u do. lol.

  • PauLAsol

    are we fkcing awesome or what???? no kobe, no bynum, no problem!! i bet cavs couldnt do sht without lebron and .. and… uhmm… who else is better?? shaq??

    • drive-for-16th

      if lebrick sat out, the cavs would get blown out every game.

      • LBJMVP

        Which is why I am the MVP.

    • NBAmazingKB24

      yep just like Miami (and many other teams around the NBA) A super star plays a off night, it’s almost a miracle for them to win a game.

      We are very fortunate to have such highly skilled players that comes off the bench.

      Repeat.

  • ruxpin810

    defense has been the story the last 3 games. hope they can keep up this defensive intensity when Kobe an drew come back. also, TLN, i think u Anna is a laker lucky charm, let her keep writing these postgame recaps :)

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

      Thanks, Rux. If only the secret to the Lakers winning every game were that simple huh? =)

  • thanhttrinh

    Cavs can do shyt when Lebron is not there and who else ? Mo Will, or Lebron + Shaq !

  • thanhttrinh

    look at the Celtics when they lost both KG and PP, they fcuked up when those guys were not there and once again i can bet the CAvs win w/o Lebron !

  • matthew

    you guys are right.. the cavs need lebron to have a good game, and if he doesn’t, the team loses.. why do u think lebron always has double digits in assists… it’s cuz he’s the only guy (most of the time) handling the ball and making plays. take lebron out of the team, the cavs are nothing… LAKers all day everyday. wooo woo woo.

  • showtime2k9

    Anna, “experts” are correct when they cite the point guard position is the Lakers’ greatest weakness on DEFENSE. This is not baffling. Small speedy point guards always play well against the Lakers.

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

      showtime2k9, the point guard position from an OFFENSIVE standpoint has also been cited as a Laker weakness. Why do you think the names Devin Harris and Chris Paul were floating around this season regarding trades for the Lakers when Farmar, Fisher and Brown weren’t doing it for them on both ends of the court? Small speedy point guards aren’t just a problem for the Lakers. CP3, Nash, Parker and Deron Williams are elite PG’s for a reason – because they’re hard to defend in general. It’s not just a Laker weakness.

      • Luke makes me Puke

        Yes, but it IS a Laker weekness and that should not be baffling to anyone. As good as we have been playing, imagine how much better we would be with a point guard capable of actually making a contested shot in the paint – rather than constantly flopping on offense in hopes for a whistle from the refs. Looks like the refs aren’t buying that garbage anymore.

        • ruxpin810

          if you guys don’t see fisher’s value on this team, then you guys don’t know anything about basketball. there’s a reason why he has just as much as kobe. remember, kobe’s won a ring w/o shaq, but kobe’s never won a ring w/o fish. he may miss a lot of contested layups during a game, but you can always depend on him at the end of games and he’s proven that over and over.

  • thanhttrinh

    Lakers are too deep and having many of options, I mean, man, just bring LO, Pau and Artest we’ve got the big 3 !
    However with Cannon Brown is now a starter, u got Farmar from downtown and is a speedy guard, DJ with some monster plays, Josh Powell 6-10 who can hit a mid range J
    I mean this team is so talent, plus we play D and compete hard every night, Lakers r the TEAM TO BEAT !

  • Ronin99

    So proud to be a Laker fan! The guys are stepping up.

  • lakeshow00

    dont b fooled peeps. This effort has to duplicated with kobe and drew on the floor. Ive been surprised by lo’s play. The guy is all-star without drew and kb. just wow

  • sashaman

    sasha baby!

  • NBAmazingKB24

    This is why we got L.O.!!!
    Great to see L.O. play his game
    and hush the L.O. haters out there.
    Seriously its great to see ppl stop talking smack about L.O. Although they will prolly be back lol

  • http://TheLakersNation Marwan..

    Not to hate on Drew, but everytime Lamar has played,along side Drew or Gasol, he has no trouble getting boards and double doubles. Both Gasol and Lamar getting double doubles lately

  • http://TheLakersNation Marwan..

    Its AMAZING how people change so quickly. First it was “trade Odom, hes inconsistent, trade his ass, our bench suck and Odom sucks, Lamar Odumb” but now its “oh thank goodness we have such great players that come off the bench. He is such a great player”
    Seriously, you people that do say those, don’t you look back at yourself and say “dammit, Im such an idiot, he is so great yet I continue to mock him after a few off nights (which everyone goes through)
    Same with Kobe. He hits a clutch shot and its like “Yeah! Kobe is the best in the world, LeBron isnt as clutch, LeBron sucks, Kobe GOAT” but then when Lakers win 3 games without Kobe (because they change from “let kobe do the work” to “oh crap hes gone so we have to step up” mode) you people are like “trade his ass, hes a ball hog, trade Kobe for LeBron, Kobe sucks, LeBron is better than Kobe”

    Seriously you dont get how annoyed I get when I read bandwagon fans comments like that. I guess when those Blazers broadcasters (whom I hate so much) had a point when they said that the bandwagon LA fans (not everyone, just the ones that said what I said above) can rejoice in their win but it just brought out the bandwagon side of them in that win. Its funny isnt it. Ive been a Laker fan all my life and I can’t see myself wearing any other color than purple&gold and I can’t see myself wearing any other basketball shoe other than Kobes. I guess thats just me though. There are many bandwagon LA fans (I know who the real fans are) than there are Celtics haters in LA.
    I loved Rons game and when he was off I was cheering for him to do better and see him do better yet you people were like “we want Ariza, Ron sucks, Ron cant guard anyone”
    Well Ive had it with these so called “fans”. Either you are a full time fan with Laker love for everyone or dont bother calling yourself a Laker fan. Thats the first test.

    • Drive_forFive24

      couldn’t agree with you more!!! Just a bunch of BS!!!!

      • lakerman1

        Band Wagoners never change’ they are always the ones with these ridiculous trade scenarios. Its gotten to the point where some of the Laker blogs are filled with a bunch of whining ass cry babies and i concur it is very sickening. This is what real Laker fans do, they hate the losses, love the wins and root for the team no matter whos on the floor. They do not bash the players just because they don’t measure up to their expectations. I only wish there was a way to eliminate them as Fans so that the true believers can critique the game without crying about every loss.

    • Luke makes me Puke

      Well its nice to see Lamar finally playing with some focus and passion. If he would have played like this we would not have list to Boston in the 2008 finals.

      • KBloyalist

        it is called emotion!

  • drive-for-16th

    I THINK PHIL NEEDS TO START ODOM AND BRING BYNUM OF THE BENCH. IT WORKS BEST, WE’RE NOT TOO BIG IN FRONT COURT THAN. BYNUM WILL GET MORE TOUCHES COMING IN WITH THE BENCH, BUT HE NEEDS TO KNOW HOW TO HUSTLE.

    • Kobe8/24

      Been saying this for a while. If Odom starts it will open up the court. Plus like you said Drew will be the star of the 2nd unit.

      • L.Alaker_show

        if drew does come off the bench they better learn how to pass him the ball cause everytime he’s outthere with the bench usually is just farmar and brown getting there shots

  • Robert

    First, these last 3 games have been great. It has been a chance for the ‘rest of the team’ to learn how to play when Kobe is not on the floor. This is what they should be doing when Kobe is on a break in games that he plays in.
    .
    Second, the Lakers can’t win a championship without Kobe. Period. This is ‘regular season’. During the playoffs, teams ‘adjust’. Wonder how the Jazz would adjust on the second game of a series (same with Portland, and SA). Kobe = Championship.
    .
    Third, this is the ‘benefit’ of the Triangle offense. It works without a PG. There is no PG. Props to Phil and Tex for this. I’ve criticized this before (since the Lakers always descend into 1/2 court, and it hasn’t been easy lately), but these last 3 games are perfect examples of the success of the Triangle. (i.e., we can see how well it works, even without Kobe. Yes, Kobe can carry the team if necessary, but the Triangle has worked for 10 championships for Phil). (although, there were many fast breaks in this game = no Triangle there).
    .
    Fourth: props to Pau, who is one of only 5 NBA players in history to have back to back 21 pts, 19 boards, 5 blocks. Remember that Pau was the go-to guy on Memphis. When we used to play Memphis w/Pau on that team, he was a beast.

  • ed1

    Shannon Brown needs to find a F*CKING clue!

    • You’re Right!

      I love the guy, but half of the time, he’s lost in the offense not knowing what to do next. Hopefully he’ll get a hang of the triangle faster and not fuck up the offense by hanging on to the ball for too long.

    • Ed-The-Idiot

      you’re a moron and need a clue! bb is played on both ends of the court (it’s NOT all about scoring). look at the stat sheet… he was +20 and held his guy to only 2 pts. he played good defense. the only guys that played bad was ron and fluke.

      • ed1

        Is that you Shannon? Don’t cry you little b*tch. Learn how to play within the offense and you’ll be just fine.

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

      It’s not all about dunking for Shannon. He has to learn that when his scoring isn’t cutting it during a game, that there are other things left to do to get the win, like play defense. He was stuck to whoever player he’s bee assigned to. He just needs better decision-making when he’s got the ball. If Jordan and Sasha can learn that (their decision-making lately has been great!), I don’t see why Shannon couldn’t.

      • Luke makes me Puke

        Shannon is definitely very athletic. Unfortunately his outside shot is not always consistent. Unfortunately, he is either blazing hot or ice cold. With more consistency he could be a starter. Maybe next year.

  • KBloyalist

    this should always happen vs. the team who does not have a legit center like 7 ft…I am impressed w/lamar n gasols number..maybe they hate playng w/ kobe that is why they show up just now! but hoping this will continue.

    • http://TheLakersNation Marwan..

      I have proof that what you said is complete bogus. Lamar just signed a multi-year contract with the Lakers and he knows the type of player is. If he hated Kobe, he wouldve went to the Heat where Wade is dominant (not as much as Kobe) and Wade averages more assists. But Lamar decided to stay in LA.
      Same as Gasol. He just signed a contract extension that basically locks him in for the rest of his career and yet he signed it so that he can stay and play with Kobe. If it was that bad, don’t you think he would leave like Stephen Jackson left the Warriors?

  • http://TheLakersNation Marwan..

    Without Kobe, the Lakers have won the 3 games by an average of 14 points.
    Thats pretty good, gives Kobe less to worry about and less to stress about as he rests.
    Now without LeBron, the Cavs are… What!? Its that bad!? Damn, start tanking again Cleveland!

    • KBloyalist

      so you mean that for you it is lefrog the more valuable than KOBE? that lakers can win w/o him and cavs don’t without lefrog?

      • NBAmazingKB24

        means we are a better team then cleveland
        we can win w/o kobe
        cleveland cant win without LBJ
        That dosent mean LBJ is more valuable

  • Heron

    Gasol kinda took a digg at Kobe when being interviewed by that dufus Ireland…

    Dufus: so how enjoyable was this win tonight?
    Gasol: Well, I like the last three.

    • Marwan Marzina

      Could be?
      Or it could be the fact that they won the last 3 games without their key player and did it in blowouts.

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

      I wouldn’t call it a digg. Besides, Kobe’s the one who said Pau’s too nice and doesn’t speak up enough. Well, he’s talking now and because Kobe’s had a chance (heck Bynum too) to sit back and see what their team has done without them, I think they’ll be fired up to get in on all the action too. Please, don’t eff up the system!

      • KBloyalist

        pau will become a kobe hater like shaq. I think his tired of being a side kick and wants to run the team of his own. like the last3? hahaha!

      • Heron

        yeah, but technically isn’t every win enjoyable? Pau’s said after Kobe’s passing of Jerry West: : “Now we can focus on winning games.” As if to say Kobe was just looking to get his first–which would explain the string of losses prior–then win the game. Just by watching the games, there’s not that same kind of “love” between Pau and Kobe as there was when he first got there and even last year. I’m pretty sure too that the Lakers get tired of being asked by dufus Ireland: “how does this win feel without Kobe?”

        All I’m saying is Kobe can get his when he wants, but he tends to do it when ball movement and sustaining a lead is needed and not his scoring.

      • Luke makes me Puke

        Pau’s comments a digg at Kobe. That is really looking for controversy where there is none.

      • ruxpin810

        pau is on crack if he thinks he can win w/o kobe. his shooting percentage has actually gone down without kobe. and pau’s not an idiot like shaq, pau knows he needs kobe. and shaq admitted that he didn’t really have as big of a problem with kobe as he did with laker management. he just wanted more money and jerry buss isn’t a sucker so shaq bailed. stop hating on kobe heron, we wouldn’t have the last 4 lakers championships w/o him. and KBloyalist, are you sure you’re a loyalist? =)

        • daboss1848

          read PJs book and recall Shaq wanted KB traded for the same guy KB wanted Bynum traded for.

          • KBloyalist

            shaq wanted kobe to be traded because he’s jealous. Kb wants bynum to be traded that time to make the team better..got it!

          • ruxpin810

            i know what Phil said in his book, but it was shaq himself that said he blames the laker management more than Kobe for him leaving the lakers.

  • AllthewayLA

    THE QUESTION IS, will they play the same way with Kobe in the lineup?

    • KBloyalist

      probably no! because they think they can win it without kobe, and for sure they will blame kobe if they lose a game with him playing. The fire is rising up high!
      Same thing as shaq won the ship in 2000 w/ kobe and winning his finals mvp but still kobe was the crowd favorite and has more adds than him.Pau is feeling it right now he wants an MVP…DEJA JEALOUS !!!

  • daboss1848

    man these guys suck!!!! y havent we traded all of them yet?

  • TradeFluke

    Can the Lakers trade this scrub for a bag of Deritos before the deadline? Fluke sucks major DonkeyDick! When the dude was in the game, he would blow our lead. Watching this guy play is like watching the Special Olympics.

    Ammo could probably play better than Fluke. Imagine what the Lakers streak would be if KB sat out when he first got injured? The Lakers might have been on a 10+ game win streak by now. I think when KB plays injured, he hurts the team more than he helps them.

    • daboss1848

      Called Mitch and made your suggestion – no one he talked to on the other teams could get their hands on “Deritos.” He said “Deritos” must be some priceless artifact that people dont seem to be aware of or willing to part with.

    • ruxpin810

      i think your trade luke argument would be more effective if you actually gave suggestions on who we should trade him for. there’s a reason why he’s still a laker and you obviously don’t know that reason. and as far as kobe, injured or not, if the lakers played defense the way they’ve played the last 3 games with kobe in the lineup, they would be undefeated right now. someone mentioned this before, with kobe in the lineup, the team doesn’t play with the same defensive intensity because they know that kobe’s there and he can bail them out offensively. but when kobe’s been gone, they know that they have to play their butts off the entire game because kobe’s not there to bail them out. so hopefully the mentality doesn’t come back when kobe does.

    • Luke makes me Puke

      Your comments are right on. What is Luke even doing on the floor? God his game is a JOKE! I’m sure he is everyone’s best friend, but other than carrying everyone’s luggage around what good is he for this team? The defense doesn’t even have to bother guarding him as his shot is TOTAL GARBAGE. I hope he does the team a big favor and just RETIRES after this year. What a travesty that we are saddled with paying money for this Oompa Loompa, when those funds could be used to get a player with some talent. He has no quickness, no speed, can’t jump, his shot is crap. His outside shots are not even close. YEah, he makes a nice pass once in a while, but how many BAD PASSES does he make. Thankfully, Phil sat him in the second half and gave his minutes to Josh Powell. Unfortunately, no other GM, looking for that final piece to get their team championship ready, wants to take this no talent “genius” off our hands. Somehow, this does not surprise me and it shouldn’t baffle anyone either.

  • One Mo Time

    I can say this, their certainly earning their paychecks now without Kobe there to bail them out. It’s good to see them step up their game when needed. Partly I think they do not want to be embarrassed should it really be apparant that without Kobe their in trouble. Having won these games definately shows they have the talent to hang with the other so called “heavy weights”. Now how long this intensity will last is anyones guess.?!?!

    • Heron

      obviously someone here hasn’t played organized ball. They’re “stepping up” because they’re getting the ball. The triangle is predicated on ball/player movement (each move predicated on where the ball moves) and when that ball movement stops for a delayed amount of time (Lakers w/Kobe) guys can’t move. I’ve been trying to deny it forever, but there are times when I want to choke Kobe through the TV. He can get his shots WITHIN the offense, but he just goes outside the offense, demand the ball, play one-on-one, and if in trouble jack it up. I mean if you’re smart enough, when the Lakers are losing going into a quarter or a half and they ask Phil what needs to be done differently, he always stresses RUNNING THE OFFENSE and ball movement.

      • ruxpin810

        yes, kobe takes a lot of shots but he also leads the team in assists. yes, the lakers have won the last 3 games w/o kobe but it’s not like they’ve been shooting lights out those last 3 games. they aren’t winning these games because they’re shooting well and moving the ball well, they’re winning because they’re playing good defense, hustling and rebounding. but yes, the lakers have been moving the ball well the last 3 games. but as a team, the lakers shoot 46%. and what have they averaged the last 3 games? 46%. so no, they haven’t improved they’re offense but they have improved their defense a whole lot, that’s why they’ve held the last 3 opponents to under 90 points and won all 3 games.

  • KBloyalist

    I feel trouble on summer! If they don’t repeat this year there will be a lot of akon( blame on you) that will push kobe to opt out! he’s done with LA by surpassing jerry ,I want kobe out of LA ,I want to see him play wearing chicago jersey! He should be to gave tribute to jordan…

  • Luke makes me Puke

    It should be clear by now that the Lakers play much better TEAM BALL without Bynum. Bynum on the floor takes minutes away from Pau, Artest, and Lamar. Hopefully Laker management will realize this fact and pull the plug on this Bynum experiment and use him to shore up the weak spots on our team. Trading this year is probably too risky and it may prevent us from participating in the 2010 free agent pool, but after this year we should consider moving Bynum for a solid player that can shore up some of our weaknesses.

    • daboss1848

      recall, we beat POR in POR with Bynum (sans KB)

  • 242LakerFan

    I think that if I gave everyone who has posted on this thread the “there, their or they’re” test, maybe half a dozen of you would pass.
    But like Karl, I digress.
    Thus team’s most annoying trait, and the cause of its most maddening losses, has been its inconsistent efforts defensively. There are nights when we look like we could outscore God and four archangels, but we give up 150,000 points and lose.
    These wins without Kobe have been earned on the defensive end. That’s something that can be duplicated with or without Kobe on the court, but we all know it can be done much better with him than without. So all that needs to happen when he does return is to keep up this kind of effort on D and the only worry we’ll have is who the hell is gonna pay for the parade THIS YEAR!

    • ruxpin810

      amen! this is what i’ve been saying all along and i’m glad somebody else, and not just me and Anna, sees this. everyone keeps harping about how the lakers have been moving the ball a lot better, which is true, but that’s not the main reason why they’ve won the last 3 games.

      • daboss1848

        defense has definitely been THEIR key to victory, but this is also an area where KB has regressed this yr (by either resting, roaming or just sagging out of disrespect for his opponent)

        • ruxpin810

          yes, Kobe is definitely not as good a defender as he has been in the past, but he still leads the team in steals. when he does sag or roam, I guarantee it’s not because he wants to rest, that’s how he gets those steals.