If tonight’s showing is a reflection of “tired,” let’s hope Andrew is completely exhausted when the playoffs begin.
With 21 points on 9-14 shooting, in addition to 12 rebounds, and the only Laker who shot perfectly from the free throw line, Andrew played with a different kind of attitude today. Actually, he just had an attitude about him today, rebounding on both sides of the court, never giving up on his missed shot attempts, and dunking the living lights out of Arco Arena.
After scoring the Lakers’ first seven points of the game, it was obvious Andrew had come to play tonight, and not just to score on feeds from his teammates. He was active everywhere, manning the offensive glass (5), and refusing to give up possessions until they had scored. He forbade second chance points for the Kings with his seven defensive boards and even collected two blocks for a well-rounded evening.
And the greatest stat of all for Andrew? ONE turnover, an excellent recovery from the eight that must have haunted him from last night against Warriors.
In all, the Lakers had only nine turnovers, with Kobe Bryant collecting the most with just three, a third of what he collected last night. Instead of throwing the ball around carelessly against one of the youngest and most energetic teams in the league, the Lakers threw crisp passes to each other, handing out 23 assists on 42 made field goals, a few on very impressive lobs.
Pau Gasol had one of his most efficient games in a long while, with 28 points on 12-14 from the field, and it seems the spring in his step has resurfaced. This was apparent on one fast break sequence that implored a running Pau to send a no-look pass to a sprinting Shannon Brown, who finished with an emphatic one-handed dunk that sent the crowd, Lakers and Kings fans alike, into a frenzy.
Kobe Bryant led all scores with 30 points, collected nine rebounds and handed out seven assists. He shot 10-26, which is just under 40%, but he appeared lighter on his feet than in recent games, he’s more active on defense and his greatest contribution of all? Directing the offense before him. If there were stats kept on the assists before the assists, Kobe would probably be one of the leaders.
Lamar Odom, always a quiet statistical collector, was a significant presence on the floor, as always. With 10 points, seven rebounds and three assists, he had zero turnovers and a game’s worth of CandyMan smiles. When Odom plays relaxed but focused basketball, there’s no outplaying him.
Even Sasha got in on the game with his six points, attacking the rim as well as shooting from the perimeter.
This is what Lakers championship basketball should look like — energetic and confident, with deliberate ball movement, attention to detail on both sides of the court, and well-executed possessions (the 10 missed free throws aside, of course, a stat that remains a mysterious mess of late). If the Lakers can play with this amount of focus and purpose in the next fourteen games, they’ll be as ready to battle for that second title as they were fighting for the first one.
Pre-game Thoughts: How about avoiding a double-digit turnover total? Or, maybe just no more than 15?
Half-time Thoughts: 49-48, Lakers gave the Kings confidence by allowing a 16-3 run in the 2nd quarter. Hopefully, that’s the only run they allow.
Most Thoughtless Player(s) of the Game: Jordan Farmar, who stopped doing what had made him so successful before this road trip; leading the second unit, running the offense, and attacking the basket with his quickness. Jordan should know how short Phil keeps his leash these days, even on a veteran like Pau Gasol.
Most Thought-filled Player(s) of the Game: Kobe did what Kobe does, but tonight’s honorable mentions go to the Laker big men, Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol, who played to their advantages. They combined for 49 points, 24 rebounds and six assists.