The curtain went up on the 2010-11 version of the Lake Show and it was a Hollywood ending that had Steve Blake making a curtain call.
After one of the classiest ring ceremonies you’ll ever see, the Lakers rose banner number 16 and began the quest to three-peat.
The first half was a defensive nightmare for the Lakers. Perhaps a sign of Kobe Bryant’s continued road to recovery and Derek Fisher’s age, the Houston Rocket backcourt demolished the Lakers as Aaron Brooks and Kevin Martin did damage. By game’s end Brooks put a healthy 24 points and 9 assists in the box while Martin dropped 26 making 3 of his 6 shots from downtown.
Trailing by as many as 15 in the third quarter, it would be the much vaunted Laker bench that got hot and eventually took the lead back.
Shannon Brown and Steve Blake earned the right to get all the crucial minutes down the stretch. Brown played aggressive D, hit some timely shots and was a dynamo in the open court. Blake showed why he is likely to see more court time than D-Fish during the regular season with some big shots as well including the eventual game winner late in the fourth quarter.
In all, the B&B Backcourt combined for 26 points including an astounding 7 of 9 from the land of three.
Naturally there was concern as to how many minutes Phil Jackson would allot to Kobe Bryant. In typical KB24 fashion, the best player on the planet had no designs on playing Yao Ming minutes. Bryant was on the floor for 37 minutes and showed his shooting woes were a thing of the preseason past. While he struggled with his stroke early, Bryant got to the line and had a couple big moments down the stretch en route to a 27 point, 5 board, 7 assist night.
The Laker bigs were also instrumental in the second half turnaround. Pau Gasol put in a game-high 29 points while pulling down 11 rebounds. The Spaniard did have some questionable shot selection including trying to shoot fade away jumpers 10 feet from the hoop. But a 7’5” center will have that affect even on fellow 7-footers.
Lamar Odom is doing his usual fill-in-for-Bynum routine. LO had a double-double (14and 11) and a vintage coast-to-coast bucket that ignited the Staples Crowd.
While it was a great night for the Lake Show there are still some concerns. Houston’s bench beasted their Laker counterparts in the first half. Matt Barnes was unimpressive in his 15 minutes on the court. Aside from a masterful third quarter, the Lake Show defense was non-existent for the most part.
Most important of all is that this team found a way to win. Sure, the Rockets had a chance late but Brooks forgot both how tall he is and where he was on the court. No matter what, a win is a win and I’m sure Miami would have settled for the same in their disappointing debut.
Now it’s off to Phoenix for the first road test of the season.