Alright, let’s get the excuses out of the way.
Boston was playing shorthanded. The Celtics haven’t been playing their best ball lately. The news of Jerry Sloan’s sudden departure from Utah shook the hoops world at its core.
This wasn’t the best the Lakers had to offer but it was more than enough to beat Boston on their own floor. For all the talk of L.A. being unable to compete with the NBA elite I say take a look at the third quarter in tonight’s game. While we’re at it why not just include the entire second half of the game in the answer to the many questions that have been posed this season.
No, this was not a great performance. Then again, neither was Game 7 in the Finals. But, much like that game that will forever live in infamy, it was an inspired effort good enough for the biggest win of the season.
As if Phil Jackson instructed his team to play possum, the Lake Show looked dead in the water late in the second quarter trailing by 15. Kobe Bryant was content to sit back and watch as Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum did work. A late surge closed the gap which was only a warning. What would follow was basketball brilliance.
Dialing up the defense was priority number one. Ray Allen had his record setting moment and rode that until the wheels feel off because once KB24 got his game in gear it was all but over. Mamba’s quiet first half was put in the rearview thanks to an impossible to ignore final 24 minutes.
But this isn’t about one man. This is about an entire team taking a stand. Something we haven’t seen in some time as the Lakers stood up as one cohesive unit.
Ron Artest did a complete 180 on Paul Pierce. Whereas P-Double has his way in L.A. he struggled all night in Beantown.
Gasol and Bynum were efficient, effective and active. Not to be left out, Lamar Odom chipped in with another double-double off the pine. When the bigs are playing this way there is almost now chance of defeat.
Even Shannon Brown seemed to rediscover his early season swagger by helping to carry the offensive load in the first half and finishing with double digits in 22 minutes on the court.
This is not the best these Lakers have to offer. They’re still struggling with taking care of the ball. 15 turnovers just isn’t going to cut it. But in the areas they needed to be better than Boston in they dominated. Controlling the boards, playing the game at their tempo and most importantly coming out of the locker room with the fiery determination of champions.
No, this is still not the best this team has to offer but in a must-win game they did enough to do just that – win. This road trip is looking like it could be a major turning point in the season. However there is no time to rest on yesterday’s news. It’s off to New York where a revitalized Garden awaits the arrival of the defending champs. Tonight the Lakers played like champions but tomorrow they’ve got to do the same all over again.