Good Start to the Trip
Posted by hiphopmama on January 30, 2009
LA Lakers 132, Minnesota 119
After an embarrassing loss to the Bobcats, the Lakers put the slip-up behind them and rebounded – quite literally, out-manning the Wolves 53-43 on the boards – to kick off their six game road trip with a win in Minnesota. Kobe glided to 30 points, but Bynum led the way, brutalizing the Timberwolves for 27 points and 15 rebounds in some towering post play.
The continuation of Andrew’s streak of amazing-ness was the highlight of this one, and it was nice to see him rewarded with lots and lots of touches. With two top-notch seven-footers, I see no reason why we shouldn’t throw it in to them every possession and see what develops from there. If nothing else, they kick it back out and Kobe goes to work, but the way things are going right now, either Bynum or Gasol is likely to maneuver their way to an easy deuce in the paint. When that becomes a consistent enough threat, defenses are going to have to collapse more regularly, freeing up the outside guys even more as well as making it easier to get to the hoop as defenders will be reluctant to rotate away from the big guys. It shouldn’t be related, but when Bynum is getting fed the ball and scoring frequently, he is also more active on defense and the boards, all of which helps the team collectively. In case you can’t tell, I am very excited by the prospect of a powerhouse post man on this team, as it was the obvious missing link during our Dark Times, of which we shall not speak.
The bench was magnificent again as well. Kobe was on the bench for the first half of the second quarter, and during that time the team extended from a two point to a seven point lead without their leader. Later, in the second half, the subs – including Farmar, who looks ecstatic to be out on the court again – maintained the double digit lead while Kobe, Bynum, Gasol, and Fisher were rested alternately for long stretches. Kobe sat for so long that I started to suspect that Phil was forcing the rest of the guys to survive without him after the debacle against Charlotte when he fouled out in the first overtime. Granted, it wasn’t a close end-of-game situation, but it’s a point Phil is right to make, because there’s no reason a team with Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum, Lamar Odom, and the spot-up guys shouldn’t be able to execute a couple offensive plays to close out a game, especially against an iffy side like the Bobcats.
But enough about that game. This one began the atonement process and, more importantly, kicked off the road trip with a crucial victory. It’s six straight games away from Staples, but we’re facing Minnesota, Memphis, New York, and Toronto before heading to Boston and Cleveland, so it’s not like the gauntlet has been laid down. That just makes those winnable games more important, though, as victories in them become important to balance out potential frustrations against our two biggest competitors (sorry, Orlando, I still don’t see you making the Finals).
And now for some random factoids about the game:
- The Lakers had seven players in double figures, including all five starters (Kobe 30; Bynum 27; Gasol 21; Walton 11; Fisher 10; Odom 10; Farmar 10)
- We shot 50.5% from the field and 78.8% from the line, and Bynum was 7-of-8 from the stripe – a far cry from the Big Clank days
- We only had 12 turnovers for the game. It’s not a staggeringly low number, but for our standards and in a road game, I’ll take that every day.
- We attempted 27 friggin’ three pointers in this one. We made 10 of them, which comes out to about 37%, but that still seems a little high to me. Fish was responsible for 8 of them and Kobe took 7, so I suppose that accounts for most of the excess. I wouldn’t mind seeing a little less of that, in any case. I know Kobe has been hot from distance of late, but he doesn’t need to pull up quite so often. At least Fish’s threes were mostly set up off of good ball movement.
- And, in an important statistic to watch for the rest of the season, Fisher played just 29 minutes tonight. Farmar’s 19 productive minutes made it easy for Phil to keep him on the bench, and I’m hoping we’ll see more of that from here on out.
Tomorrow we head to Memphis to take on Gasol the Younger and hopefully beat them in their house again. It was closer than it should have been last time – why do I have deja vu as I write that? – but we’re healthy again now so I predict another good outcome. Till then. And go Serena.