Well, it only took just over three weeks but the Los Angeles Lakers finally have their first road win of the season. You’ll excuse Mike Brown if he doesn’t celebrate this first for his Laker career.
It took another 40-point effort from Kobe Bryant and extra time for the Lake Show to turn down the Utah Jazz but in the end a win is a win. That is becoming an all too familiar mantra this season.
Make no mistake this one was not a thing of beauty.
Both teams struggled through an offensively challenged outing with Los Angeles outlasting Utah 90-87.
Let’s just begin with the most enjoyable element of this otherwise listless contest – Kobe Bryant.
We knew it was going to take a special effort every night from Bryant for this Laker team to have any serious title chances. So far Mamba hasn’t failed to deliver. After going super nova on the Suns for 48, KB24 put up another 40-spot in both the point and minutes played category.
How Kobe continues to defy the logical progression of father time is truly remarkable. Last season it looked like the Lakers’ all-time leading scorer was on his last legs. One trip to Germany, a summer of rehab and one torn ligament in his shooting hand later Bryant is back to his old form.
There simply are no words that can do justice to what we’re witnessing this season. Those that respect the game of basketball know that what Kobe is doing is nothing short of amazing.
However the problem is the Lakers needs every last ounce of Kobe to win games this early in the season.
How much longer can he shoulder this load?
Pau Gasol put down another In-N-Out special (double-double) but his play is still lacking this season. That might sound harsh considering the fact Pau hit a clutch three tonight (you read that right).Let’s be honest, though. Gasol has MVP talent and his game just isn’t living up to his skill set.
Andrew Bynum is slowly but surely returning to the form we’ve come to expect as he was unable to impose his will on an undersized frontline. About the only other Laker that is matching Bryant’s intensity lately is Matt Barnes. Problem is Barnes’ best isn’t good enough to get this team over the hump.
17 more turnovers tormented Coach Brown. This one should have been in the refrigerator in the third but typical Laker lowlights kept the Jazz close. So close it took a Bynum block in OT to salvage the inaugural road win of the 2011-12 season.
Another issue that is particularly problematic is the up and down performance of the bench. Tonight I’m willing to give the second unit a pass as they’re still playing shorthanded. That trend might also continue as Steve Blake suffered a finger injury. No matter the case, a fire needs to be lit under the men coming off the pine.
What is promising is the continued commitment on the defensive end. That is the one true hope the Lakers have of hanging another banner. Defense wins championships after all. Tonight it helped the Lake Show to hand the Jazz a first of their own as well. Before Wednesday night Utah has yet to lose at home.
Naturally the reasoning for many of the Lakers’ issues tonight can be attributed to yet another back-to-back. That is a trend that won’t let up this season. Which is another reason why Bryant’s impressive play is so very amazing. Again, how long can he keep this up?
There is no doubt Kobe will keep trying to top himself every night. The real question is who else is going to match his effort?