Five things to take away from Lakers' 97-90 win over Golden State
1. The Lakers secured a 97-90 victory Friday over the Golden State Warriors because of an energetic third quarter. Whether it was Kobe Bryant nailing a last-second shot, setting one up for Steve Blake or saving a ball from going out of bounds or the Lakers connecting on backcourt, the Lakers brought more energy in the third quarter. They ended the quarter with eight unanswered points. They also went on an 18-5 surge that gave the Lakers their first lead since the beginning of the game. And they forced the Warriors to commit four turnovers.
At first, the game proved unbearable to watch. The Lakers shot 15 of 41 (36.5%) from the field. Dating back to two games ago against Houston, the Lakers missed 22 consecutive three-pointers. The Lakers were called for two consecutive lane violations that involved Kwame Brown making four free throws. They committed 12 turnovers. The Lakers have some issues to work out, but at least they corrected some of those with better energy in the second half.
2. Kobe Bryant shot well. Even with a torn ligament in his right wrist, Bryant's shooting remained superb. His 39 points on 13-of-28 shooting reveals a continuous pattern in the next three days where he's ensuring his looks come in the mid-to-low post and on baseline jumpers. It's easy to take Bryant's ability to play through pain for granted. But to see him save a ball from going out of bounds, continuously remain effective from the field and play as if nothing is bothering him is beyond comprehension.
3. Andrew Bynum struggled when facing double teams. It looks as if this might be a sign of Bynum hitting a wall. For the second consecutive game, Bynum didn't know how to handle double teams other than making poor passes or attempting awkward shots. He began hitting that wall when he went two of nine from the field in the second half of the Lakers' loss Thursday to Portland. He continued it on his nine points on three-of-nine shooting Friday. Bynum possesses plenty of power and effective footwork, as evidenced by his 16 rebounds. But he has to learn quickly that he can't rely on those skill-sets alone. Making quick reads and not forcing the issue would become the first step in alleviating that.
Meanwhile, Pau Gasol has proved that he's fine remaining the third option, and that he's consistent at doing so. His 17 points on eight-of-15 shooting all came on bread-and-butter mid-jumpers, most notably on one on the left block after Bryant drew a double team. The shot gave the Lakers a 91-82 lead with 2:27 left, and prompted the two to hug each other at midcourt.
4. Matt Barnes appeared solid. Give or take a few aggressive reach-ins and fouls, Barnes showed a promising effort that should further solidify his starting position at small forward. He managed to keep up with Monta Ellis, who scored only 18 points on eight-of-20 shooting. His knee looked very healthy as he scored 16 points on cuts both backdoor and through the lane. He remained so impressive he even took away Metta World Peace's playing time. Meanwhile, Jason Kapono assumed World Peace's minutes as well when Barnes rested.
5. Metta World Peace sat out the entire second half. He had a stoic reaction as he sat on the bench. But he shouldn't be upset. World Peace scored only three points on one-of-three shooting in 10 minutes, while Barnes flourished.
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Photo: Lakers guard Kobe Bryant drives the baseline against Golden State power forward Ekpe Udoh in the first half Friday night at Staples Center. Credit: Stephen Dunn / Getty Images / January 6, 2012