Posted by hiphopmama on December 3, 2008
LA Lakers 114, Philadelphia 102
Tonight was a better night. We were once again the better team and once again built up a cushion a few different times, but this time we were actually able to hold on and finish the game. Granted, we did still try to throw it away on occasion, turning the ball over in foolish streaks and giving the Sixers a chance to get back in it, which they did. But that was as far as it went. They clawed their way to within six late in the third quarter, but the Lakers responded with some big shots and got it back to a comfortable lead.
Kobe himself was personally responsible for pulling this one out, singlehandedly wiping away every gain the Sixers made down the stretch and relishing every jaw-dropping shot he nailed. Playing in front of the notoriously cantankerous fans in his home town of Philadelphia, Kobe once again played like he had something to prove and took every opportunity he had to rub it in when he sonned the home team. After intercepting a pass on defense, he drove the ball up court on the break, settled, waiting, on the baseline, and then, when no one came to him, he fired up the three. When it went in, he turned toward the courtside fans and just stared as he jogged back down court, as if paying them back personally for the boos the rained down on him in that All-Star Game way back when. Toward the end of the game, he positively schooled the whole team, slicing down the lane, between double- and triple-teams, and making circus shots that looked routine. Andre Iguodala decided to come over and try his hand at defending Kobe, which even Maurice Cheeks acknowledges is virtually impossible, noting after the game, “Andre took a challenge with guarding Kobe. Nobody can shut down Kobe. [Bryant] controls the game the way he likes to, posting shots and getting to the rim.” Or breaking your ankles before drilling a long-distance jumper over the second defender, as he did late in the fourth to cap a brilliant and dominating performance. He finished with 32 points (12/20), 6 rebounds, 4 assists, and 2 steals.
It wasn’t an overwhelming performance by the boys tonight on the defensive end, as they allowed the 76ers to shoot 48.8% and only forced 12 turnovers, which I believe will hurt them more often than not. Their offensive performance, on the other hand, was almost flawless, aside from a few errors that almost cost them an easy win again. They shot an astonishing 58.1%, including 46.2% from three, and going 22-for-27 from the free throw line didn’t hurt either. Only two players finished with a sub-.500 shooting percentage, and that was just barely (Fisher 3/7, Odom 3/8). Bynum (18 points, 3 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 block) displayed his ever widening skill set, which now includes facing up and taking guys off the dribble, apparently, as he did impressively in the first half. Gasol delivered yet another solid display, scoring a double-double with 22 and 13. He is almost always steady as she goes. And even Radmanovic got into double figures with 11, going 3-for-5 from three point range. It was a smaller rotation tonight, with just nine guys seeing playing time, but no one was overextended. Kobe led the way with 37 minutes, and Gasol was right behind with 36, hardly a strenuous outing.
It was an important win for us to get back on the bandwagon and hopefully start a new winning streak. And it was a personal victory for Kobe, who got to show up the home crowd that loves to get under his skin. Not that much can really rattle him anymore, but I still remember him admitting being bothered by the boos when he won the All-Star Game MVP, when he appeared to be near tears in his post-game interview. He can be a dick, but the Philly fans always deserve what they get from him. At least this time there were a number of cheers, some “MVP” chants, and a good amount of Laker attire in the crowd, and the fans seemed to truly enjoy the gamesmanship going on between Kobe and everyone else in the arena. It was a fun game all around, except for the other team.
I’m glad the 76ers fought to the end, because I take no pleasure in demolishing a Maurice Cheeks team. I have a warm fuzzy feeling for him in my gut, and I can never quite remember why. Until I saw an American flag tonight and the memory of him singing the National Anthem to help out that struggling girl came back to me, and I just wanted to hug him. Watch and get all mushy inside. He rescued her and got the crowd, coaches, and even the players to sing along with her. Hell, watch just to get a glimpse of Nick Van Exel, mouthing along to the Star Spangled Banner. Remember ol’ Nick at Nite?
I wish that man nothing but the best. Starting tomorrow, of course, and until the next time we play Philly.
And now for the highlights:
And a (horrible quality) game recap:
Friday night we play the Wizards in Washington at 7 ET/4 PT in what should be the easiest of the three road games this trip. The Wizards are 3-13, although two of those wins have come in their last five games. They are struggling without Gilbert Arenas and Brendan Haywood, neither of whom has played a game this season, and they are led by Caron Butler’s 21.7 ppg, Antawn Jamison 9.6 rebounds, and DeShawn “LeBron James Is Overrated” Stevenson’s big mouth. If LeBron is Jay-Z, then let’s see how Soulja Boy holds up against Biggie. (Notice I didn’t say ‘Pac; the greatest is reserved for MJ.)