The Lakers have an odd yet poetically perfect way of responding to all the swirling drama. When every sign indicated the Lake Show melting down in Dallas, Los Angeles put together their best road effort of the season. Oh…but they did have a mini-melt down too. Some clutch moments combined with some gut wrenching ones as well lead the Lakers to a well-earned 96-91 win over the Mavs that could have easily become a season-defining loss.
The margin for error is that thin this season. With every excuse for the Lakers to roll over, they dug deep and pulled out a win that came with plenty of unnecessary drama. What’s more Laker than that?
Pau Gasol could have easily pulled the same Houdini act he did last time in Dallas what with his trade troubles. Instead the Spaniard played a gritty game of hoops. His double-double streak went the way of San Antonio’s win streak but 24 and 8 is nothing to be ashamed of. Gasol gutted-out 39 minutes on the court that saw him return to his efficient offensive ways. Even more important was Gasol going for his as he was aggressive all night.
While Pau’s streak ended, Andrew Bynum’s double-double tear is halfway to the Gasol streak.
Drew was dominant, picking apart the Dallas defense with some sick footwork that lead to big buckets in the paint. Bynum posted a cool 19 and 14 with a couple of clutch dunks down the stretch. Drew’s final two came on a lob from Kobe Bryant that opened the Laker lead to seven with less than two minutes to play.
But before Bynum’s big bucket seemingly put the game out of reach it was Derek Fisher time.
D-Fish had one of those hater proof games where he makes you forget about his shortcomings. Typical of the team captain he backed his words shared in that players-only meeting that has been the topic of so much discussion.
Fisher delivered big shot after big shot as he dropped a season-high 15 with five of those points coming in the clutch. A big triple followed by a runner in the lane gave L.A. the lead for good.
But as mentioned this one was far from over. Dallas was down to a hope and a prayer to win with less than a minute to play. Matt Barnes gave them the hope they needed. Barnes grabbed a big board, got fouled and had a chance to ice the game.
Barnes misses both free throws.
A little later Kobe steps to the line with a chance to at least make this a two possession game.
Mamba misses two free throws. This was an off-night for Kobe to be sure. He made some big plays but had a miserable night shooting.
The good news was that something must have been in the Dallas water supply. Dirk Nowtizki soiled his 25 and 12 game with two big misses of his own from the charity stripe.
Not to worry though. Pau had a chance to put this game away. He’s been in a groove all night. This one is over…right?
Pau missed both. Lake Show misses six straight in the clutch. Dallas still can’t close.
Despite L.A.’s best efforts to turn a statement win into a detrimental loss this one ended with a Laker victory. Naturally filled with drama but more importantly showing all kinds of heart. We’re not looking at a championship team yet but this one had the heart of champion written on it. From start to finish this was a game that could go a long way in defining this Laker team. How much longer we’re looking at this team as it is will remain to be seen.
The next time this Laker team will be seen is tomorrow tonight in Oklahoma City. With another inspired effort like this the tide could be suddenly changing.