1-0 in games where Mom co-blogs
As a matter of fact, the fans always get tacos when she's in the press area and sticks around for the live blog, as was the case in tonight's 116-99 win over the Nuggets. And these happy developments provided Mom and Lakers fans quite the blast. To say the least, it's something of a tenuous period for the Purple and Gold, given how Trevor Ariza's recent foot fracture has combined with Andrew Bynum's "Subluxation Heard 'Round the World" to cause worries of deja vu all over again for the Lakers. After all, the team's hot '07 start was derailed by injury, so why wouldn't the same happen again with the injury bug apparently still carrying a grudge? Well, the Lakers seemed determined not only to thwart a historical repeat, but didn't even go into "Carry us, Kobe" mode doing it. Five Lakers chucked the rock more times than the New Jack Bauer, the same number of guys (Kobe included) that hit double figures. Obviously, this won't (nor should it) be the case in every go around, but the box score could serve as a statement of sorts. These Lakers are better equipped, mentally and physically, to weather this storm, and as a team.
The breakdown is below.
Derek Fisher: At least for one night, Andrew Bynum's scoring was picked up, and then some. 28 points. 6-7 from behind the arc, including four makes on four attempts in the third frame, a barrage that helped swing a sputtering momentum back in L.A.'s favor. As I've said many times, I've thus far grossly underestimated how much Fish's play would make a difference this season. Tonight would be one of those occasions demonstrating how off I was.
Lamar Odom: Three assists were all that prevented LO from a trip-dub, but there's very little complaining involved with a 15/11/7 effort. Actually, I suppose one could quibble about going 33% from the field (4-12), but Lamar made up for it with nine trips to the stripe, a septet of which were good. All the mark of an outing with an aggressive mindset, which is so key for Odom.
Kobe Bryant: The first half features only two attempts (both good), six points, five assists, and a Laker lead of 10. The third quarter features six more dimes, four running in back-to-back-to-back-to-back fashion over fewer than two minutes, helping the Lakers bump a dwindling Laker lead from four back up to digits. By the time the dust settled, Kobe had taken only seven shots to rack his 17 points, involving his teammates the entire way while never seeing his influence on the game's flow decrease. Games like these truly demonstrate The Mamba's ability to put a contest on a string.
Kwame Brown recovering from the bad experience against Phoenix: The "Is booing okay?" debate has been discussed to death by now, so I'm not looking to spark Round 1438. But it was nice to see both fans give Kwame some love during the player intros (all kidding aside, a clean slate of sorts needed to be expected by then) and Brown play as if the fiasco never happened. It also helped that there were no missed chippies and he snagged a season-high 11 boards. Mom in particular was very happy to see Kwame bounce back in reputable fashion, as the boo birds of last Thursday struck her as fairly heartbreaking. While Phil Jackson didn't appear blown away by Kwame's night, he praised some "moments" on Brown's part, whether a couple of early dunks or being active in the glass eating department. "He got involved in the game and lost himself in it and that's what's important."
Jordan Farmar and Ronny Turiaf combining for 30 off the pine: With the rotation now "Britney Spears' skirt short," it's imperative that bench players step up and prevent the load from falling too heavily on the starters. Ronny and Jordan did just that.
Coby Karl getting some PT against his old man's squad: Save his converted technical free throw, the game won't strike the uninformed eye as much to write home about. But despite airballing a three ball (his only attempt) and sailing a bounce pass into the stands about two feet from his dad's mug, I have a feeling it's a game people will never tire talking about.
Getting to do this with Mom: Not to sound like a big softy, but it really was a good time. Mom is a huge Lakers fan and spent the entire game bouncing up and down in her seat and reacting with great enthusiasm. Besides, it would have never dawned on me that court mops would sell huge on QVC. Mom notices these things.
Outside of a dicey third quarter where the game was knotted at 77 before the Lakers reblew the doors permanently open, not a whole heck of a lot, really. Yeah, you'd like to see do more of the lead expanding that happened in the final frame, but at the same time, this is a team playing without its second best player (Bynum) or perimeter defending specialist (Ariza), with a brand new big (DJ Mbenga) while two others (Chris Mihm and Vlad Radmanovic) sit on the shelf, plus Kwame Brown, Sasha Vujacic and Luke Walton all not operating at 100%. In cases like these, you'll sometimes have to disregard a lack of continual neck stepping and just take the win.
THE TURNING POINT
Those threes late in the third from D.Fish and Farmar (all assisted by Kobe) that put the Lakers back in the driver's seat. From there, they never rode shottie.