Lakers 106, New Jersey 87: Who are they to stand in the way of history?
League rules mandated 48 minutes of basketball had to be played, but practically speaking the Lakers' 106-87 romp over the Nets Sunday night at Staples was over the instant iconic PA announcer Lawrence Tanter introduced Trenton Hassell and Josh Boone as New Jersey's starting small and power forwards. A few things were abundantly clear: A) this was not going to be a fair fight, B) an obvious lack of high end NBA talent and a brutal run of injuries meant Jersey had come by its (heretofore) 0-16 record honestly, and C) it mattered not if they were coached by Lawrence's Frank, Tanter, Taylor, Welk, or Arabia (or in this case, Tom Barrise, manning the sidelines for Frank, fired by the Nets Sunday morning), New Jersey was a virtual lock to tie the NBA's record for worst start to a season.
The Lakers used a 17-4 run at the end of the first quarter- one in which the Nets scored all of 12 points- to remove "virtual" from the equation. 36 minutes later, the Nets had indeed lost their 17th consecutive game, officially making share of history the only thing they've won all year.
The monumental disparity in talent between the two squads makes it tough to draw many- any- real lessons about the home team's play. Truly this was a night for rubbernecking this wreck of an NBA franchise. Still, a few notes:
- Just as they did Saturday night, the Lakers didn't toy with an inferior opponent like an orca might a penguin. Nope, they just got down to eating, never leaving even the slightest ray of hope for the Nets. No question the Lakers haven't played top shelf teams of late, but the trend has been to get ahead early, and it's a positive one.
- Kobe Bryant made five three pointers tonight, one shy of his total for the month of November. Phil Jackson said after the game that it was important for Kobe, who dedicated his summer to post work and has practically lived there to this point in the season, to again find a rhythm in his face up game. Kobe downplayed it, but doesn't strike me as the sort to be satisfied with the 20% clip at which he was hitting triples coming into the game, and noted that he spent time over the course of the day working on his jumper.
- Jordan Farmar hit three of his four attempts from downtown, and finished with 15 points. He and Shannon Brown both seem to be benefiting from Phil Jackson's move to shorten the guard rotation, basically at the expense of Sasha Vujacic.
Truly, this night was about the Pluto Nash-esque train wreck that is the once-proud Nets. That doesn't mean we don't have Lakers video. Click below for the moving pictures.
Pau Gasol, on his ability to distribute the ball. His seven assists equaled Bryant's output for the team/game high.From there, he talks about what's happening to the Nets and how he can relate:
Kobe, on LA's execution and how they've avoided playing down to recent competition. One thing that helps is defensive consistency:More from Kobe. Asked how he would handle a long losing streak like New Jersey's, or perhaps the 13 game losing streak Gasol endured a few years back with the Grizzlies, Bryant's face wrinkled. "I've got to believe I'd score 100 before I'd go 0-13." Something would have to give. "If I have to take every shot, make every shot, we're winning one (honkin') game."
Farmar, on his play against the Nets, including a great hustle play to block a Rafer Alston layup at the end of the first quarter (a sequence that likely pleased his coaches more than the 15 points he scored):
Phil Jackson, on how the Lakers played against New Jersey, maintaining consistency and focus:
More from PJ, on Kobe's outside shot, Lamar Odom's play Sunday night, and his empathy for the Nets: