This much we do know; the Lakers are an unstoppable force on offense. Coming into tonight’s tilt in Milwaukee the Bucks were holding opponents to less than 90 points a game. That all changed when the Lake Show took the court. 31 from Kobe Bryant, 21 off the bench contributed by Shannon Brown (including a dominant fourth quarter) and another double-double from Pau Gasol was about all Milwaukee could handle.
This much is also certain; the Lakers’ defensive lapses are all related to focus and effort. Yes, this team sorely misses the presence of Andrew Bynum in the middle. Brandon Jennings equaled Mamba for game honors with 31 of his own and Andrew Bogut’s 18 boards will attest to how badly Bynum is missed.
After giving up 59 in the first 24 minutes, Phil Jackson turned a few screws and got his team to lock down defensively. The end result was a more inspired effort that gave up only 48 points in the second half en route to a 118-107 win.
Snapping a two game losing streak on the front end of a back-to-back on the road is a good thing. But to continue to allow teams to shoot open jumpers and penetrate at will is going to kill this team at some point.
For now, the Lakers can get away with flipping the switch. But this is November. Come March there may not be enough juice left when it comes time to dial it up for the playoff position push.
Forget about 73 wins. That was a pipe dream to begin with. Getting homecourt throughout the postseason is the goal. Beating teams like the Bucks is no easy feat but the Lakers proved that when focused they can dominate lesser competition. They’ve also proven that they are capable of dropping games like this. Were it not for poor foul shooting and some careless play late by Milwaukee, this could have easily been another nail biter.
In the quest for best record in the league, you can’t afford to leave it late. Thanks to Shannon stealing the show in the fourth, there was little drama late. But this is just the first stop on a three game road swing. Eventually legs will tire and a team that thought it had no chance will find a way to win dropped into their laps.
With KB24, Ron Artest and Matt Barnes, the Lakers have no excuse for porous perimeter D. Now is the time to play like champs and take the hearts of lesser competition early so this team can rest late.
Nobody said getting this three-peat would be easy. Therefore the Lakers can’t make things as hard on themselves.