No Rest For the Weary
Posted by hiphopmama on February 11, 2009
Oklahoma City 98, LA Lakers 105
It was exactly the kind of game you would have expected. We came out tired and listless, our shooting off throughout much of the first quarter, but OK City wasn’t up to the task of making us pay for it and we closed the quarter well at 25 apiece. We finally found our game in the second quarter and sustained an impressive run to head into the locker room up 13, with lots of help from Kobe and Pau to propel us forward. We were again outplayed in the third, but the bench stabilized us through the fourth and our stars helped us through to the finish. We had a couple bone-headed plays right near the end to almost give it away – since when is a 10 point lead with 2 minutes left a shaky proposition? – but the Thunder weren’t able to punish us for them and we held on enough to get the win and reward the fans with tacos.
You could see it coming, really. It was such an amazing road trip that we just slogged through and we held up so admirably, so you knew there had to be some kind of letdown. Besides, with Kobe still recovering from his “flu-like symptoms,” energy was always going to be an issue. So of course the bench buoyed us along yet again. Ariza, Farmar, and Vujacic each had 9 points and Farmar added 5 assists. Jordan was especially helpful in keeping the team moving at a good pace, and it was the second team that helped us build a double digit lead in the early fourth. Odom had another good game, breaking the season-high he set for rebounds in the last game with 18 and chipping in 12 points as well. Kobe became the youngest player to 23,000 points (beating out Wilt Chamberlain by 5 days) on his way to 34 and 7 rebounds.
Once we settled in, we looked pretty solid, holding the Thunder to under 40% shooting. That could partly be attributed to poor shooting from a young team, but I remember the days when last place teams posted career nights against us so I’m not complaining. We were also +10 in rebounds, as our size advantage and persistence kept Oklahoma City at bay.
After winning six in a row on the road including those last two against Boston and Cleveland, it’s so easy to let up on the gas pedal and try to coast past a sub-.500 team. We didn’t do that last night. We weren’t exactly our normal sparkling selves, but that was the result of fatigue, both physical and mental, as much as anything else. We still had the right mentality and gave the appropriate effort to beat a weaker team, which is a good sign for the second half of the season.
We get the chance to head into the All-Star Break with single digit losses as we head to Utah to take on the Jazz tonight. This is another potential banana peel for the time, especially because a loss here would be almost respectable given the circumstances. I don’t think we’ll see that, though, because Kobe is finding his legs again and the team seems too focused to stumble like that. The Jazz are a good team and will certainly test us, though, and it will take 48 full minutes of work to beat Jerry Sloan’s men. If we have the stamina to do it, I think it will be 8 in a row after tonight.