Bynum Outplays Bosh In Lakers Win Over Raptors
Posted by hiphopmama on November 30, 2008
Toronto 99, LA Lakers 112
I now understand why people live and die with their teams. I’m not saying I get the whole soccer style shoot-somebody-over-a-game mentality, but I’m starting to see how you could invest so much of yourself in a sports franchise. Don’t get me wrong. I’ve always been a Lakers fan, and I remember my week hanging in the balance when they had a big game, particularly during the playoffs. The Spurs were the cause of many a bad weekend when they knocked us out early. But I’ve never before felt like I’m staying afloat because of a team the way I am now. I don’t have much to complain about when it comes down to it – great husband, beautiful daughter, pretty comfortable lifestyle – but things have been nuts lately, with my extended family mirroring the economy and both causing me considerable grief. One of the only things to get me through it was watching these Lakers games at night after everyone goes to bed. The fact that they’re winning makes it that much sweeter.
Tonight they played the way they were supposed to. They were a little sloppy here and there, particularly toward the end, but for the most part they executed the game plan to perfection. I’m still waiting for Phil’s press conference, but I have to believe they were looking to pound it down low all game, and Gasol and Bynum came through in spades. Gasol was his typical self, playing intelligently and fluidly both facing up and with his back to the basket. He had 14 points in the first quarter alone on 5-of-7 shooting, and he got himself in the right place at all the right times, often becoming the outlet for players on whom the defense had collapsed and making the resulting open shot. Bynum was even more impressive, if only because every inch of his growth is celebrated like a national holiday (especially by me). He outplayed Chris Bosh by a mile, defending him exceptionally well and playing aggressively in the post. My husband got to watch some of the game for the first time this year, and he was amazed at the kind of plays Bynum made. That’s when I realized how far he’d come, because the things he found amazing had already become fairly routine in my book. The emergence of a little bit of ferocity in Andrew has been very welcome, and it has helped him stay aggressive even when he meets some resistance.
Aside from conceding way too many open threes, we played well defensively too. We held the Raptors to 38.6% shooting and out-rebounded them 54-36. I still think we could tighten the screws some more and contest a few more shots, but when we’ve really needed it we have found a way to get some stops and string some points together so far this season. I’m still not entirely convinced that will hold up in a seven game series against, say, Boston, who can count on some shut-down D of their own, but we have a long time to work on it.
The offense, on the other hand, is already clicking on just about every level. They had a season high 34 assists on 47 made baskets and once again saw 11 of the 12 guys get on the scoreboard. Only four made it to double figures tonight (Gasol 24; Kobe 23; Bynum 18; Ariza 14), but everyone played solid top to bottom. Odom finished with only 3 points, but, in a sign that he has taken to his new role as sixth man, he only took two shots while picking up 10 rebounds, 6 assists, and 3 steals. Ariza had another big game too, and he continues to look like Mark Madsen with athleticism (and talent). He brings so much energy no matter what the situation, and even when it doesn’t directly result in points, it usually leads us in the right direction. Whether it’s challenging for a rebound, preventing an easy pass, or saving a ball headed out of bounds, he is always working for the team.
Now for the caveats. The Lakers are 14-1, the best record in the league, but they have played 10 of their first 15 at home. There is something to be said for winning the games you’re supposed to win – it’s a feat that many (MANY) fail to accomplish – but that’s indeed what they’ve done so far. They have showed their toughness by battling back against Dallas (twice) and shutting down talented teams, but they have mostly cruised their way to 14 wins in 15 games and have yet to be truly tested. The first of such tests comes this week, when they go on a three game road trip to Indiana, Philadelphia, and Washington between now and Friday. It’s a relatively meager test, but it’s a start and a chance to see how we perform under a whole different set of circumstances. Going on the road is always an iffy affair, but I honestly believe we should win all three of these games and come home 17-1. Certainly a best-case scenario, but I gotta keep hope alive.
One last gripe: Can we please, PLEASE slow the game down when the it’s essentially over? I am so tired of yelling at the screen, “SLOW DOWN!” while the super subs hurl the ball up court in yet another attempt at a fast break we don’t need. We’re up by 17 with two minutes left, Jordan. Do we really need a full court lob to a streaking player at this point? It makes us look more ragged than we really are, and it doesn’t show much discipline. It’s not necessary, and it often leads to teams making up points on us. Luckily, we’re usually up by enough that it doesn’t matter, but in Dallas on Friday we did the same thing and gave them one last shot at catching us. God is clearly not a Mavericks fan so it didn’t come back to haunt us, but I worry that even His Holiness might not save us from such a fate in a match-up with a superior team.
Okay, that’s finally it. Game recap: