Finally A Blowout
Posted by hiphopmama on March 6, 2009
Minnesota 90, LA Lakers 110
I love games when Kobe sits for the whole fourth quarter. I especially love games when DJ Mbenga is a key player for us, because it means Pau is getting some rest and DJ is capably spelling our other All-Star. Gasol logged 31 minutes tonight and Kobe finished at just 28, while Mbenga set a new career high with 10 points. More impressive, though, was how he did it, scoring on 4 of 5 shots and picking up 4 rebounds and 5 blocks. He was Mr. Energy for the second straight game and the LA crowd ate it up. He was almost like Mark Madsen, only with actual athletic ability.
This is the kind of win we should be getting more often. We steadily built and expanded the lead over each quarter, with a brief slip to start the third quarter. After allowing the Wolves to pull within 4 partway through the third, the Lakers knuckled down and held the Minnesota offense in check and put on a run to end the quarter up 18. The bench played the whole fourth and extended and then maintained the lead – a rare feat for a bunch of guys as likely to explode for a double-digit lead as to give one up. It was as entertaining a blowout as you’ll see, too, with Mbenga swatting everything in sight, Ariza throwing his body all over the place, and Shannon Brown jumping through the friggin’ roof. Someone get this guy in the dunk contest, pronto.
This little two game homestand was exactly what the doctor ordered. A little mental and physical fatigue had set in and the guys were looking sluggish, so a couple nights on the home front against subpar competition should pump them up for the road trip ahead. It was especially important for the bench, which was looking strangely ordinary of late, as they used these games to get their mojo working again, playing long, and successful, minutes in both. The subs are always going to play better at home, but hopefully they can carry some of this momentum with them as we head out into the wild blue yonder. Mbenga’s game in particular lends itself well to road games since he’s all about energy and defensive intensity, meaning that his offensive game – which is the side most susceptible to jitters – is not a crucial part of his role for us. If he can come in and do even half of what he did tonight, it will be incredibly helpful in resting Gasol to keep him fresh for the big moments.
We now have another two days off before heading out for three games in four nights against some tough opposition: first Portland, where we haven’t won in four years, and then Houston and San Antonio on consecutive nights. This would be a good time to make a statement about our intentions to close the season with a bang and roll into the postseason at a brisk pace. Tonight we became the first team to 50 wins, and Phil said in the postgame chat that the goal is to be the first to 60. I don’t see why that shouldn’t happen.
All I got so far are some first half highlights. I’ll check for the rest later.