Turnovers, air balls and runs – oh my! What a sloppy, sloppy game this started out to be. The Sixers started 0-10 in the first quarter, and then started 0-7 in the second quarter. The Lakers led 12-4 to begin the game, then continuously turned the ball over and got behind by three points after the first 12 minutes. Kobe Bryant’s hand was smacked during play and swelled up so much that trainer Gary Vitti had to tape it up (not that Bryant kept the protective wrapping on). Pau Gasol was arguing with an official about a foul committed on him instead of running back on defense, and as a result, the Sixers scored on a fast break. It just wasn’t pretty – none of it…until the final quarter.
The Lakers were going to win this game. Despite the negligent ball-handling in the first half (nine turnovers), and lead after lead turning into deficits, there was no way the visitors were going to give this game away with just one more game left on this long road trip after tonight. Forget a bad shooting night from Kobe Bryant (9 points on 3-11) AND Pau Gasol (19 points on 6-14). Someone else called himself to lead this team this evening and boy was he ever ready to take charge!
Lamar Odom was the “it” guy tonight. 28 points on 11-18, eight rebounds, three assists, one steal – as usual, the man did it all. Odom caught lobs and turned them into layups, completed two three-point plays in a row; hit the open look from downtown, found diving teammates like Matt Barnes for easy hoops. The exceptional play of Odom will never, ever get old. He’s the team utility player, a jack-of-all trades, the Lakers’ own Renaissance man, able to play any position and do whatever, whenever.
Every player of the game’s got a right-hand man, and tonight Odom had Matt Barnes. Barnes, like Odom, puts his stamp on every game by keeping it simple – keep moving. Watch him for any amount of time and he’s rarely standing in the same place for more than two or three seconds. Tonight he poked the ball from under Thaddeus Young’s arm and then ran down the court to catch a pass from Shannon Brown for a layup. In the fourth quarter, he dived to catch a pass from Odom for another layup. Barnes led the Killer B’s with 15 points on 5-8, including a late-game three-pointer that capped a Laker 11-0 run. To think, just a season ago, Odom and Barnes were trash talking via Twitter. How times have changed.
The Lakers were behind by three points after one quarter, led by five points at the half and after scoring just 14 points in the third, ended up on the bad end of a six point deficit before the final 12 minutes. In the end, despite a choppy game for some, the Lakers managed to close it out.
One last game in Toronto then it’s home, sweet, home.
Pre-game Thoughts: How about four in a row?
Half-time Thoughts: 44-39 – The Lakers might’ve exhausted their shooting efficiency in Indiana. They shot just 41% in the first half with Philadelphia no better at 37%. Pau Gasol leads with 13 points.
Most Thoughtless Player(s) of the Game: Never seen so many zeroes in Shannon Brown’s stat line – 0-4 from the field, zero three-point attempts, zero rebounds, zero points. He may be hitting another lull. Hopefully he’ll come out of it soon.
Most Thought-filled Player(s) of the Game: Lamar Odom – wow! He played the most minutes (42), led all scores with 28 points, and, as per usual it seems this season, leads all +/- with +15. Most Honorable mention – Matt Barnes, who led the bench with his double-double, 15 points and 10 rebounds.