Ummm…weren’t the Lakers the team playing their third game in as many days to start the season? Aren’t young teams like the Utah Jazz supposed to run the old legs of the Lake Show into the ground?
As they say, that’s why they play the game.
All of the truths we learned of the Lakers after two games became lies in the third and final 3-pack Los Angeles will endure this season. Coming off of two listless losses, the pain button was being discussed around Lakerland. Thankfully the Jazz had no plans on accessing the codes to unlock the case to said button.
The 96-71 score line alone would make you think Utah was the squad begging for a day off. Instead it was the Lakers that earned a Wednesday to relax.
This one was over with a 12-0 run in the second. After a sloppy first quarter the L.A. offense got clicking while the Jazz threw up more bricks than Chris Dudley in a three-point competition.
Some of the credit goes to Mike Brown’s defense for holding the Jazz to 26% shooting in the first half. Some definitely falls into the rust category all teams are working through.
Kobe Bryant is working through the pain of that wrist injury and he’s making it look all too easy.
KB24 cruised to a 26 point, 8 board and 5 dime outing that at times looked like a summer league scrimmage. Utah had no clue how to defend Bryant. When Raja Bell crowded Kobe’s airspace he broke ankles and rocked the rim. When C.J. Miles backed off in transition Bryant buried one of his three treys.
Typical of Bryant he conserved energy in an efficient and measured effort.
When he’s on his game there are few players as offensively efficient as Pau Gasol. Tonight’s effort was his best of the season. The Spaniard dropped 22 and pulled down 9 rebounds while playing an impressive 37 minutes. Remember last year when Pau was playing big minutes early in the season? Some say that ultimately caused his postseason Houdini act. Luckily Andrew Bynum will be back soon enough to help preserve Pau’s legs.
Now it is still too early to give Coach Brown the genius cap for his Metta World Peace experiment but the last two games have been eye-opening.
World Peace followed up his 19 point night in Sacramento with a highlight filled 14 point outing against Utah. Without a doubt the moment of the night was Metta’s get-out-of-the-way dunk that had Kevin Harlan screaming World Peace like he was auditioning to get an AND 1 announcing gig.
With all that good there is still cause for concern.
Again the offense just isn’t looking very crisp. Kobe, Pau and Metta were once again the only players in double figures. 96 points is a season high which isn’t saying much for a team that should be dropping 100 a night on average.
There is still work to be done.
On defense the Mike Brown effect is slowly being felt but the ugly of the Jazz only enhanced the potential beauty of the Lakers. None of Utah’s starters cracked double figures and as a team they only made 1 of 13 three point attempts. I wouldn’t at all be surprised if we see a much different effort out of Utah next time around.
With all the practice the Lakers need it would seem like a bad time for a day off. But this isn’t your normal season. These older Lakers need rest and they’ll get it. One whole day to relax before getting back to work Thursday. At least the most grueling stretch of games is out of the way early. From here out the schedule isn’t necessarily easier or more manageable. Just consider the last three days a crash course on NBA chemistry. The Lakers didn’t pass the test so much as they endured it but at least they finished up strong.