Caught in the Web: Breaking down a Lakers victory
The Lakers' 98-92 victory over the Orlando Magic certainly didn't lack story lines.
Lakers guard Kobe Bryant shot four of 19 from the field, a problem that was partly traced to his already injured right index finger getting smacked early in the game. Lakers center Andrew Bynum missed the entire fourth quarter, suffering from a G-I bug that Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said resulted in him throwing up in the locker room.
And then there was the bench, led by Shannon Brown's career-high 22 points and Jordan Farmar's 11, a performance Jackson said was the reason why the Lakers won the game. Brown's performance capped off a big day in which he was named to the NBA dunk contest (LetShannonDunk.com should be plenty busy before All-Star weekend).
But the main story line of the game -- the first time the Magic faced the Lakers since losing to them in the 2009 NBA Finals -- didn't have the appeal you'd expect in a grudge match. Of course, this wasn't entirely unexpected. After all, the Magic losing six of its last nine games. And though the Lakers have been far from fully healthy and sharp (losing two consecutive games two weeks ago), they still have the NBA's best record.
More Lakers links (after the jump)
The Magic's performance on Monday only confirmed why not many were excited about this Finals reunion in the first place. Both ESPN Los Angeles' John Ireland and Fox Sports' Todd Behrendt doubt the Magic will return to the Finals this season.
--Brown's latest performance and dunk contest nomination provided the latest examples of how much he's grown with the Lakers, but the Orange County Register's Kevin Ding argues that Farmar may have a bigger role this season because he's backing up a struggling Derek Fisher.
--The Register's Janis Carr details how the Lakers paid tribute to Martin Luther King Jr. Day, wearing gray- and-black MLK edition Kobe V Shoes.
--Though Jackson largely credited the bench for the win, Silver Screen and Roll correctly points out that the Lakers committed only five turnovers to Orlando's 12. "Even when you're not shooting well, that puts a floor under your offensive production."
--In Sports Illustrated's NBA power rankings (the Lakers are No 2 behind Cleveland), Chris Mannix cites league sources who say the Lakers have been active in trade talks in hopes of upgrading their bench.Tweet of the Day: "Was walking behind Craig Sager and his crushed crimson jacket even had Kloe Kardashian staring. Too funny" -- DuranLA (710 ESPN's Beto Duran).
-- Mark Medina
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Photo: Kobe Bryant tries to drive past Orlando guard Mickael Pietrus in the fourth quarter Monday night. Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times