Rejuvenated. Energized. Poised. That is how the Lakers played tonight against a veteran San Antonio team.

For the second game in a row without Kobe Bryant and Andrew Bynum, the Lakers came in with no excuses. No missing teammates would derail them from winning. No loss in scoring and defensive options would stand in their way. The Spurs had beaten them by 20 points in the last meeting, but tonight was not about revenge. Tonight, like Saturday in Portland, the goal was just to win another game.

To win how they did tonight, however, was reminiscent of a style that has been lost on this team periodically this season — Championship-caliber basketball.

The Lakers, again, played excellent team ball, with Odom, Gasol and Artest leading the charge. Together they scored 55 points, seized 34 rebounds, and handed out 15 assists, not to mention Gasol’s 5 blocks.

The frontcourt’s mission to dominate was clear early on, and their aggressiveness on both ends of the court was undeniable.

Odom, in particular, punished San Antonio all evening, doing just about everything he wanted to do; curling around his defender for a lay up, splitting double teams for an emphatic dunk, passing to a running Gasol, and fighting for rebounds.

When asked what he planned to do with Odom in the 2nd quarter, Coach Popovich thought for a second and replied, “We just have to find somebody who can defend him.” Simple enough request, difficult to execute, especially when Odom is the primary ball handler on the floor.

Guard play is not to be overlooked. Fisher was, again, aggressive offensively, hitting 6-9 shots for 13 points and managed 3 assists. With Brown starting in place of Bryant, Farmar and Vujacic led the bench, combining for 8-10 shots, three from downtown.

What really won this game for the Lakers, however, was their team defense and ball movement. After allowing San Antonio 34 points in the first quarter, they allowed only 55 points over the final three periods. After committing 7 turnovers in the first half, the Lakers only committed 2 in the second.

This win, by and large, would have meant much more for a Spurs team whose identity is yet to be determined and whose chances at another title this season are possible but improbable. They added seven new players to their roster and it showed in their inability to figure out a victory against a team missing two of its biggest scorers and defenders. Other than the triple-threat trio of Duncan, Parker and Ginobli, there wasn’t much contribution from anyone else in a Spurs uniform.

In stark contrast to a Lakers team who has been playing together for several years and who appear to have turned a corner. Without their best player and without their young center, they have managed to win over teams in convincing fashion.

Nevertheless, another test awaits… in Utah.

Pre-game Thoughts: Kobe out. Andrew out. Might be a long night.

Half-time Thoughts: 3-point lead after Jordan Farmar glued himself to Tony Parker, avoiding any last-second points for the Spurs to end the half.

Most Thoughtless Player of the Game: No one. The Lakers played as well as they could play without Kobe and Andrew.

Most Thought-filled Player of the Game: Lakers front court — Pau, Lamar and Ron

  • gugy

    GREAT GAME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Congrats to the whole Lakers team. Except Luke, great performance tonight and hustle.
    Kobe have a lot of time to rest and come back in full force.

    It’s lovely in Lakerland!

    • LakersBabe

      It seems like it is always “Except Luke”. I don’t get why Phil even plays him. He is supposed to have a high basketball IQ but he does some pretty dumb things.

      • ruxpin810

        luke had 4 pts, 4 rebs, 1 ast n 1 steal in 11 min, I say that’s pretty productive for limited minutes. he plays because he does have a high bball IQ and starters have to rest obviously. people who hate on luke r jst as ignorant as people who hate on Lamar. u guys want everyone to be highly productive but that jst can’t happen with a highly talented team that the lakers have. Luke outplayed finely, bogans, bonner and mason combined, u guys need to get off his back.

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

          What’s it gonna take for people to get off LO and Luke’s backs? They play with everything out there. Like ruxpin810 said, you can’t expect the world from every player on the active roster for every day. That doesn’t even make sense. This is a talented team, from top to bottom. They each contribute something to get the win. Luke played limited minutes but still contributed SOMETHING. It’s no Pau Gasol stat line, but the guy played for only so many minutes. Luke knows his role on this team. If we’re fans, we should be well-aware of his role too.

          • Seriously!

            Lakers fans these days are getting spoiled. They don’t know how big of an impact role players have on a team. Our three peat had huge role players like Ron Harper, Glen Rice, Robert Horry, Rick Fox and even Mark Madsen at times. I swear, today’s Lakers fans expect every spot on the roster is supposed to be filled with an all-star.

          • Marwan Marzina

            I love your picture Anna ;)

  • drive-for-16th

    IM VERY HAPPY WITH THIS WIN AND MOST IMPORTANT, VERY HAPPY WITH THE TEAM BALL WE’RE PLAYING. KEEP KOBE RESTING AND BYNUM TOO UNTIL AFTER THE ALL STAR BREAK.

    • LakersBabe

      Yes great team ball. Fish is playing better these days as is LO. Kobe wants to come back for the Utah game but I say he rests. At least until the All-Star game.

  • Marwan Marzina

    Great game. Another great win without Kobe and they really stepped up. Artest has been doing great, by carrying the team offensively and defensively. DFish has taken over as the vocal leader and Pau and Lamar have been big on the boards. Farmar is the point guard the Lakers have been looking for but they were looking in the wrong places.
    BTW dont blame Kobe. Just cause Lakers won 2 games without him, suddenly you people want to trade the one player that matters to the Lakers as much as Jordan did to the Bulls. *Fans these days, think what they say is right with the “trade Kobe”*

  • drive-for-16th

    FUK YOU WHO EVER THINKS KOBE SHOULD BE TRADE. I TRUELY MEAN IT.

    • LakersBabe

      Trade who? OMG! That is beyond stupid.

      Anyone. And I mean anyone can go but Kobe. We need to enjoy his play while it lasts. In another 5 years we can look back and say “Wow! We were there during his prime.”

    • Marwan Marzina

      +1

  • drive-for-16th

    AINT NO ONE GONNA SCORE 81 AGAIN!!!!! MAYBE IN A HUNDRED YEARS BUT NOT ANYTIME SOON.

  • drive-for-16th

    KOBE IS A BETTER SCORER THAN MICHAEL JORDAN. 81 BITCHES, 62 IN 3 QUARTERS.

    • MJ23

      Not if I was guarding him.

  • wow….

    i know u guys love shannon brown, and i do too, but he played a horrible game today 3-13 and josh powell 0-3….. did you guys even watch teh game? wow

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

      Shannon had a bad night. I think he looked a little nervous out there as a starter and he’s still getting used to the system. He just has to work on his decision-making. He does dribble around a bit too much, rarely running the offense. Too much isolation for sure. But he’s definitely done more good than bad since he got here.

      • Green Flannel

        he didn’t play well but when he does we usually win. the fact that we still won with shannon (our starting SG) playing semi-poorly is good. Josh..well he was just off.

  • drive-for-16th

    yah shannon missed some easy looks

    • sashaman

      yeah but he did some other things, fire up the crowd at the start of 2nd half with alley, and made that 3 pointer that further deepened the spurs’ wounds… but there were his negatives liek his 3-13 and mistimed jump that allowed an old mcdyess get an offensive rebound.. he looked tired playing those extra minutes

  • ed1

    I hope Kobe and Bynum were watching. That’s how you play team ball.

    • drive-for-16th

      I hope Bynum was Watching CAUSE THATS CALLED HUSTLE.

      • nope

        Not to mention: always playing like your contract is up.

        • chadb

          got to say that was prob the most fun Laker game I’ve seen in a long time… Ball movement, fastbreaks, up tempo. A lot of that had to do with the ball not sticking in one spot (not to mention any names). Its good he is getting a chance to rest.

          • Green Flannel

            lol. “(not to mention any names)”

  • drive-for-16th

    Charles barkley said kobe should play in the all star game, i think he should rest, the team is more important than the all star game. WHAT DO YOU GUYS THINK?????????????????????????

    • nope

      He should appear for the fans, go apeshit for 5 minutes or so then give it a rest.

    • keepon_keepinon18

      I remember that a lot of times, for All-Star players who’s injuries aren’t too bad (meaning they aren’t “out”), they end up playing only for a few minutes and just enjoy themselves during the game. I dunno about Kobe though, you don’t really want anyone to accidentally step on his ankle. Accidents are still just accidents.

    • http://youtube.com/mrterrific100 Mr Terrific

      Barkley needs to go back to Taco Bell and leave Kobe alone.

  • ed1

    oh, yeah, Brown needs to stop dribbling so G0ddamn much and punch the ball inside, instead of mostly lookin for his own shots off the dribble. Sasha finally gets it, but it might be too late for him. Powell, nevermind.

    overall the last two games were great. I like the even distribution of shots among the players. we NEED Kobe, we just don’t need him to take close to 30 shots a game.

  • Marwan Marzina

    Just so you guys know what each player’s role on the team is:
    -Bynum: Physical presence in the paint, rebounds
    -Gasol: Rebounds and scorer
    -Artest: Great defender and great scorer. Proven scoring leader when Kobe is out.
    -Kobe: Scorer and on court leader
    -DFish: Vocal leader
    -Lamar: Captain of 2nd unit and Hustler & Rebounder
    -Shannon: Energy off the bench and instant offense
    -Farmar: Speedy offense and hustle
    -Sasha: Pesky and annoying defense
    -Luke: Great passer and knows triangle in and out
    -Mbenga: Block monster and nice 15 foot jumper for a 7 footer
    -Josh: Jumpshot for a 6-10 forward that can stretch defense and create mismatches
    -Ammo: Hasn’t had much playing time but has proven he can shoot the ball well at times.

  • the ape

    i love shannon and all, and once he learns a little more consistency, he’ll be a really very good guard. he can go 8-9 and then 3-13… which isn’t what you want from somebody who is a big spark off the bench.

    and luke did good in there – you haters looking for him to score 20? his basketball skills come in picking spots, for him in rebounding or in assisting others. give the guy a break.

    sasha can play pesky defense, but he’s still a tradeable – especially if we can get someone like hinrich.

    and i’m still not minding trading bynum who just can’t rotate fast enough and, as is becoming apparent, too injury prone.

    but yes, terrific game! i second the opinion that it seems they have turned a corner.

  • Jim

    After the emabarrassing game against Denver, I’m really liking what I’m seeing here. Shot distribution amongst the starters was excellent.

    Did you see LO attack the basket? That’s what he needs to do whether Kobe’s in the game or not. There’s not a big in this league that can guard him when he’s that aggressive. He can shoot over the top of smaller quicker ones and drive right by bigger slower ones. Why not look to take advantage of that match up problem as often as possibe?

    I also like seeing Ron more offensive minded. He didn’t have a great shooting night, but he made some big buckets for us.

    I’ve been saying all year long that we defer to Kobe too much. We’ve got a hell of a lot of talent on this team, and if each player looks to attack the basket more after the ball has moved around enough to create an open shot for them, we will be unstoppable. Who can the opposition double team? Our guys can’t stand around and wait for Kobe to bail them out on every position. Guys like LO and Ron have averaged 17 and 20 points a game respectively during their careers. I’m not saying they need to do that now, but 13 to 15 a game is very doable for each one of them.

    Bottom line is, if each player looks for his shot a little more, not selfish, but capitalizing on open opportunities, this team can be lethal. There’s not a defense in the league that can guard them. Great win guys.

  • ruxpin810

    i don’t think we should worry about the laker offense. it doesn’t matter who gets the shots because anyone is capable of scoring on this team. the lakers won these last 2 games because they played great D and hustled. they can all have a bad shooting nite and still win the game if they jst play D and hustle.

  • 007

    i think the problem is that the team relies on Kobe to bail them out too much. in the back of their minds they know that kobe is on the court to give them an offensive lift so they get really complacent. now that kobe is out you see the sense of urgency in their agressive play both on the offensive and defensive end. just think if they played with this mentality with kobe on the court, they would be unstoppable. kobe is their rise and fall at the same time but still the number one option

    • daboss1848

      well said – i think its a combo . . . KB stifles the offense by creating his own shot (forced or not) or demanding the ball; the players play timid and take a subordinateis role with KB in the game . . . 50/50 blame assignment.

      most of the players (farmar and fish, excluded) run the offense, but the rest of the team enable (in the psychological sense) KB by making him the focal point of the offense rather than just a cog, a critical cog, but a cog nonetheless, in a scheme that has proven time and again that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

      its truly a pleasure to watch the triangle run the right way; the cuts, the screens, the flow, the energy, excitement, hustle . . . absolute enjoyment (win or lose)

      • daboss1848

        PS this is what happens when every1 eats the family table rather than taking turns at a buffet line.
        Did I mention how much I hate the “I eat first” comments?!?!

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

          Uuugghh, I cringed when I heard that “eat first” comment too. It doesn’t matter who gets his first, second or last, as long as the team wins in the end, right? At the VERY END. This strategy for team ball and its success should’ve been an apparent plan based on last year’s playoffs. Hopefully his time away from the floor not only gives Kobe a much-needed rest, but allows him to watch his teammates play, and play well I might add, when the ball doesn’t stay in his hands the entire game. It’ll be very interesting to see what happens when Kobe gets back.

      • Jim

        Excellent observations 007 and daboss, if the team took more of a “We” attitude rather than a “Kobe and the rest of us” attitude, this would be a scary situation for the rest of the league. Bynum, LO and Ron are all all star caliber performers, and they need to be encouraged by the coaching staff to be just as agressive offensively when Kobe is in the game as they are when he is out of it. If that happens, bring on Cleveland in the finals.

      • kobe-wan kenobi

        true, those were 2 nice games

        they all played great, but lets not forget
        teams are not used to play lakers wout kobe, so they are not ready
        gives few more games wout kobe and this is not going to work out the same for us…

        at the end to win it all you need the mj/kobe/shaq type of player (unless you got magic or are the detroit pistons)
        so the other players have to learn how to contribute and play hard when a dominant player is playing along
        this is not a pick up game, those guys are paid millions
        so the excuse of not getting the ball not to play hard is NOT WORKING for god sake

    • Green Flannel

      Last year (ECF) the cavs did and still are relying on lebron. he just been on a scoring tear. The lakers (when kobe is back) need to make their own offense if they feel kobe isn’t doing to much, they need to stray away from that mentality of “kobe is on the floor i’ll just watch him do his thing”.

  • kobebrown

    I think a big reason the Lakers have won the last 2 games is because the other teams defense is so centered around guarding kobe, they don’t know what to expect when he’s not on the floor. Good idea to keep the opposing team guessing as to if Kobe will play or not. … game time decision.

    Also, the rest of the team really steps up their game when Kobe isn’t playing… greater energy, effort and motivation!

    Rest Kobe! Go Lakers!

    • kobe-wan kenobi

      very true

  • http://vinginor@aol.com onlyone laker fan in L.A.

    Bynum Sucks we have seen the best of him already.
    Trade for some more talent. You have lamar and Pau
    Why do we have Mobenga is wierd he has no game.
    He fouls and is only good at shot blocking .
    Luke and mobenga Ammo sasha need to go

    • 242LakerFan

      Yeah, you’re right about Bynum. I’d much rather have Dwight Howard or…or ummm…well, ahhhh…there’s um…hmmmm.

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

      onlyone laker fan in L.A., do you ever have anything positive or constructive to say, other than “this player sucks” or “trade this guy?” Trade for more talent?! Why? Because the Lakers don’t have ENOUGH talent? This team is rotten with talent. It’s not about shipping guys in and out all the time. It’s about cultivating what you have. The Clippers are a team FULL of talent, but they don’t seem to know how to put it all together. I’d rather be here, 2nd best record in the NBA, with Sasha, Ammo, Luke and DJ in tow. And I’d rather have a guy fouling than a guy who won’t play defense because he’s too afraid to get whistled.

    • keepon_keepinon18

      Bynum doesn’t suck, he is still working things out. And what gives you the evidence that we have seen the best of him? I know I have no evidence of him being able to play better either but I remember a few years back when we traded Caron Butler for you-know-who I never heard the end of it to how bad a trade Mitch pulled. Butler later became an All-Star. To the point though ~ Andrew, if he had been consistent this year, would have made it to the All-Star game. Opportunity is all this guy needs.

      Luke knows this system very well. Sasha looked good yesterday and Ammo needs more playing time but other than that, the only reason to trade them would be to rid of their big contracts (including Luke). DJ Mbenga is there for defense, thats it.

    • bostonSUCKS88

      typical laker “fan”

    • ed1

      Hell no, I’d keep Bynum, just have him come off the bench until the “Big Baby 2″ grows up and plays like a man. This Team is Ridiculous when Lamar is a starter.

  • Nabaniel

    This was a very fun game to watch because the team played with passion. It sucks that it takes Kobe and Andrew both being out for them to play this way, but hopefully this trend will continue. When Lamar plays aggressively this team is VERY good. Like Phil has said so many times, Lamar is the X factor. Doesn’t it seem like every time he plays a great game we win? I’d love to see him keep that up even after Kobe and Andrew are back. And Pau had a tremendous game! Not the most incredible shooting night, but incredible play all around. I hope we keep this same style of play going.

    • ruxpin810

      great point! pau doesn’t need to have a great shooting nite in order for the lakers to win. pau can shoot 40% every nite, which isn’t good at all, but if he blocks 5 shots, grabs 19 rebounds and gets 8 assists every nite like last nite, i guarantee the lakers win.

    • http://lil_jay78.blogspot.com/ j

      I agree. Great points. I’m starting to think that the team needed Kobe to sit out these games just to boost their own confidence, individually, so that when Kobe does come back(hopefully at 90%, broken-finger still there…but then again, Kobe at 90% is better than most of the league @ 100%), the team will be firing on all cylinders; each guy knowing what he’s capable of and knowing they can fight along side the Mamba

  • ed1

    Hey did anyone catch themselves yelling, “Give it to Sasha!” LOL!

    • whoa

      No, not really. Not me at least.

  • ampatuan

    i think i just heard peeps kept yelling the machine!!! when he hits 2 3′s in a row