For the Lakers, winning isn’t enough. Winning convincingly is expected. Take Saturday night’s win in the Big Easy. Without starters Trevor Ariza and Emeka Okafor the shorthanded Hornets could have been easy prey. But with these Lakers nothing comes easy. While the Lake Show was in cruise control for the most part this one nearly got away before the finishing touches were applied late in the game.
The good news is that this was a total team effort with the alpha dogs leading the pack. Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol took it to the Hornets as the two All-Stars combined for 66 points. Pau finally got selfish and went for his taking advantage of the less than stellar interior presence of the NO. In 35 minutes, the Spaniard posted a double-double as he continues to rediscover his efficient ways by going an impressive 13 of 17 from the field.
KB24 had another one of those games where he seemed on a mission to fill every category in the box score. Bryant’s 32 points were accompanied by 9 boards and 5 dimes. While his tremendous effort was appreciated what is disconcerting is that Kobe played 43 minutes on the first stop of a long road trip.
But as always a win is a win. This team badly needed to get that winning feeling back.
Defensively things were up and down. After allowing the Hornets to post consecutive 30+ point quarters, the Lake Show clamped down to slow the NO roll to just 13 in the final frame.
While the intensity was there a few things are striking. Despite being at a disadvantage in the post, the Hornets out rebounded the Lakers. The Lakers did play inspired defense in spurts but still allowed CP3 and company to shoot nearly 50% from the field. In other words, there is much work to be done before Thursday’s clash with the C’s.
Again, it wasn’t the best effort but it was good enough to get a W. On this trip that is about all that matters. We’ll start to worry about how this team wins after the All-Star break. Right about now PJ just needs to get his guys focused and usually that is exactly what happens when the Lakers hit the road.