Posted by hiphopmama on January 9, 2009
Indiana 119, LA Lakers 121
Why is it that we have such a hard time with this Indiana team? Oh yeah, because they score and we can’t defend. We are two of the top five teams in scoring offense, and it showed tonight, with the Lakers surpassing 40 points in the first quarter and both teams passing the century mark with plenty of time left in the fourth.
Shooting was the story of this game, especially the first half. Both teams came out blazing and we emerged from the half with a slim two point lead. We created some distance between us and the Pacers with a solid third quarter when we finally strung a few stops together. Whether it was good defending or bad shooting is up for debate. The Pacers missed a number of shots they would have hit in the first half, but the Lakers also stayed home better defensively and closed out well on shooters to make them think about it a little. Whatever the case, they had a manageable lead in the fourth quarter which evaporated with a couple minutes to play.
This time, though, our superior coaching shone through clear as day, and a number of inexplicable decisions left the Pacers out in the cold. First, the Pacers somehow decided to leave the 6’2″ Jarrett Jack on Kobe Bryant for the entire stretch run of the game, and Kobe took advantage every time, backing the shorter man down and firing over the top. With the game tied – after we allowed Dunleavy a wide open three to knot it up – they had Danny Granger pick up Kobe Bryant on defense. Granger, the Pacers’ best player by far, was sitting on 28 points as well as five fouls, and with the seconds ticking away, he was called for a reach and had to retreat, visibly upset, to the bench. Why they would have their star player guarding the MVP on a game-deciding possession is beyond me, but it worked out well for us. To make matters worse – or better – theythen stranded Jack in single coverage of Kobe, who ran the clock down, backed down to the outside of the key, and then nailed the easy jumper over the little dude. Okay, maybe it wasn’t really easy, but by Kobe’s standards it was fairly routine, and he had just made the same shot multiple times over the same defense. The final possession was just salt in the wound for Indiana, as Vujacic did a great job face-guarding Dunleavy after he inbounded the ball, preventing Jeff Foster from getting the ball back to him. With just three seconds remaining, Foster looked around helplessly for someone else to dish it to, found no one, and then failed to get a shot off before the clock expired. It was downright dismal, if you weren’t rooting for the Lakers, which is to say that I rather enjoyed it.
- There is no more clutch player on the planet than Kobe Bryant. I know it’s nothing new or surprising, but it has to be said. Playing against a man nearly half a foot shorter than him just makes his job that much easier. Sorry, Jarrett.
- Josh Powell made a strong case for more playing time tonight, but I still don’t think he’ll get it once everyone is healthy. He shot well (5-of-7) and always provides the hustle plays, but he is not a go-to guy offensively and cannot get his own shot or open things up for other guys, which is something Lamar does quite capably. We did alright tonight, but it was painfully evident that we lacked an offensive playmaker off the bench when the lineup consisted of Fish, Sasha, Ariza, Powell, and Bynum. We ended up standing around watching Ariza do his thing, which succeeded better than expected – he is sure coming into his own – but I don’t see that as a long-term strategy. Get well soon, LO.
- Fisher is still playing too many minutes. 41 again tonight after lots of PT in those back-to-back games. I like having him on the floor as much as possible, but I’m worried about how he’ll hold up if he keeps up this pace. Come on back, Jordan. Rehab like a mad man.
Our marathon schedule continues Sunday when we take on the Heat at Staples. They burned us last time when Wade went off and Kobe saw a heartbreaker go halfway down before popping out at the last second. I expect better things on our home court as we are in the midst of some good play even without the full roster. Oh, and the Celtics lost too. So all in all a good Friday.