This was a champion’s response. On Friday night the Lakers looked lucky to win during a strange victory over the Toronto Raptors. Come Sunday night, the Lakers were all business making quick work of the Portland Trailblazers in a never in doubt 121-96 W.
The dominating defense that seemingly had disappeared between now and Game 7 of the NBA Finals reappeared Sunday. Ron Artest set the tone by smothering Brandon Roy, holding the Blazers leading scorer to just 8 points on 1 of 6 shooting.
Not to be forgotten, rebounding is a big part of the defensive puzzle and the Lakers looked to have solved that conundrum in the wake of Friday’s fiasco. After being beaten on the boards by Toronto, the Lake Show abused the Blazers with a staggering 49-25 advantage in the rebounding department.
14 of those boards had Pau Gasol’s name on them. It took Pau one full half of basketball to grab his first rebound on Friday but just mere minutes to accomplish the same feat on Sunday.
While the D was the key, it was the brilliant execution of the offense that really broke this game open early.
Look no further than Pau’s entry in the box score to see how well things flowed. Gasol notched his 4th career triple-double (2nd in Purple and Gold) with a stunning 20 point, 14 board and 10 assist effort.
Pau was everywhere. The Spaniard did it all by grabbing boards, abusing substandard defenders in the post, hitting mid-range jumpers and running the floor. Just to ensure Pau made his way into the highlight reel, Steve Blake gave Gasol an oop off the board so his All-Pro big man could throw one down.
While Pau’s +27 was eye opening, Lamar Odom’s bounce back performance was refreshing.
After taking Friday off, LO was back in the swing of things. Odom went for 21 and 12 in typical Lamar fashion, pulling down rebounds and initiating the break.
A win like this was necessary given the poor performance just two days ago. The Lake Show is now a perfect 7-0 and is quietly flying under the NBA radar. Well, about as quietly as a two-time defending champion can fly. Still four wins shy of equaling the best start in franchise history the talk of 72 wins is beginning to surface. But that is all talk. Just ask the folks in Miami what all that talk amounts to. It amounts to nothing much in November but does set the stage for what is possible come June.