Lakers 106, Pistons 93: Don't trust anyone over 40. Unless it's Kobe. Then trust him 100 times.
Order, she has been restored.
Through three quarters, there was much to love. The Lakers took care of the ball (eight TOs), moved it and themselves (22 assists on 36 field goals), and took care of the defensive glass (35-21 rebounding advantage) The fourth quarter, though, gets it's own special place (see below)
But I digress...
-Kobe Bryant: He may have missed his first four shots, but their location- really, really close to the bucket- was a solid omen of things to come. Once he warmed up, he stayed that way, finishing with 40 points- the 100th time in his career Kobe has gone for 40 or more- on 17-29 from the floor. Guess that groin wasn't a problem (which is cool, because there's only so long I can write about 24 hour treatment on that part of a guy's body before I start making the sort of immature jokes likely to get me fired). He abused Ben Gordon in the post, but showed more variety in his offensive game. When the lankier Jonas Jerebko was switched onto him, Kobe took him outside and buried a few pull up jumpers, off the dribble or effective screen and roll action. And as has become his custom, the damage was all done substantive activity behind the three point line. Only two attempts from downtown, the second of which gave him the magic 40. Defensively, he did a nice job getting his hands in passing lanes, disrupting action, and so on. Five boards, five assists, and three steals round out a very productive night.
-Productive non-Kobe guard play (in the first three quarters, at least): Derek Fisher was 0-3 from the floor, but did a nice job orchestrating the offense, and more importantly didn't repeatedly force shots like he did against the Rockets. If it wasn't there, Fish didn't pull the trigger. More important and impressive, though was the contributions delivered in the first half by Jordan Farmar and Shannon Brown. "I think it was the aggressive nature they came out and played the game with," Phil Jackson said. "Obviously with two small guards, they had their three guard lineup in and I thought it worked well for us because (Brown and Farmar) stayed aggressive. They had opportunities on the offensive end that clicked for them. That was good, and defensively I thought they did a good job. I liked it." Both Brown and Farmar had buckets in the first quarter, and in the second both continued to push the action on both ends of the floor, combining for six points, three boards, and two steals. Kobe did the heavy lifting offensively in that frame (13 points) but Brown and Farmar were a big reason the Pistons shot only 37.5% for those 12 minutes. Ben Gordon, Rodney Stuckey, and Will Bynum combined to go 2-9.
Farmar says he and Brown have a very positive chemistry. "Shannon and I talk about it all the time. We talk about how we both make plays for ourselves, for the team. When penetrating, his man helps and I'll kick it out and he'll make the same kind of plays for me. We get out on transition, get dunks, open the floor. We definitely like playing that way."
-Lamar Odom: It's not uncommon for LO to lament the tendency to focus on his "aggressiveness" based on shot totals. Tonight, too look at his eight hoists, it could be assumed he didn't have much impact. Not so. Odom only scored eight points, but added eight boards and eight dimes against only two turnovers in 29:13 of run. He was also part of the effort that kept the potentially explosive Charlie Villanueva to a two point night on 1-6 from the floor. Odom was aggressive, particularly in transition, pushing the ball up the floor and finding open teammates, or when nobody picked him up, finishing plays himself (I'm sure fans loved to see Odom cap a coast to coast drive with his right hand). He was effective, as was the whole squad, because they were patient, smart, moved without the ball, and didn't settle for the first available shot.
Honorable mention to Andrew Bynum, who kicked in with a strong-if-somewhat-quiet 17/12. I'm all for strong and quiet when it leads to that sort of production.
-The (aforementioned) fourth quarter: After the game, Pistons head coach John Kuester spoke glowingly of how his team competed down the stretch. "I'm very proud of the group that came in at the end," he said. "They didn't care who they were playing against. They did a real nice job." The Lakers? Well, they did a less nice job and Phil wasn't quite as proud. As much structure and discipline as the Lakers showed through three quarters, in the fourth LA got loose, turning the ball over four times, committing eight personal fouls, and shooting only 25%. Brown and Farmar combined to go 3-11 overall, 2-7 from downtown, and got a little loose with their shot selection. Bynum only had two shots in a time when slowing the game and feeding the big man would have been a rock solid idea. Basically, the Lakers lost focus, which can happen with a 25 point lead. It shouldn't, and next time the reserves are entrusted with a lead that could keep the starters on the bench, the hope is they'll come through.
One Big Thing:
-Andy mentioned it in the video, but Pau Gasol still feels confident that his right hamstring is coming around. "I don't want to look past tomorrow," he said after the game, referencing Wednesday's practice, knowing that previous returns have been cut short when the muscle didn't respond well to activity. Knock on wood, though, he's heading in the right direction. Check the video for takes on how Pau impacts things from both PJ and Kobe.BK
Gasol, on his hammy. Note the interaction with Vic the Brick. Good stuff:
Phil Jackson, on Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol:
Kobe Bryant, on defense, and how the lead went away: