This Mike Brown basketball is slowly starting to catch on in Los Angeles. The Lakers’ offense has looked much better in recent games but most importantly is the continued commitment to defense (we’ll just overlook that last showing against Sacramento).
Today the Lake Show rode the hot hand of the Masked Mamba and some serious stout defense to an impressive 93-83 victory over the Miami Heat.
If anybody expected Kobe Bryant to retaliate on Dwyane Wade with anything other than his game then they must have been disappointed. There was one minor dust up at the end of the third quarter between LeBron James and Pau Gasol. Otherwise none of the bloodlust that was expected came to be.
This was a physical contest though. A physical contest that the Lakers got the better of.
Gasol and Andrew Bynum played big as you’d expect when Miami is minus Chris Bosh. All that size spelled doom for Miami’s free-flowing offense. Thanks to the dueling double-doubles of Drew and Pau plus the constant defending of the rim, L.A. was able to keep Miami out of transition. In the half court the Heat offense grinds to a halt.
When it comes to playing defense it’s all about having the right mindset. From the jump the Lakers were aggressive, never once letting the front running heat play with a lead. A major reason why the Lakers played this one with playoff intensity was because of the way MF Mamba came to play.
As promised, Kobe was out for blood. He didn’t need to draw blood from the opposition to prove his point though. All the Masked Mamba needed was to show his coldblooded nature. 18 first quarter points delivered in the most efficient fashion let Miami know what time it was.
After his quick start, Kobe dialed it down a notch before getting it going again when you’d expect him to…in the fourth quarter.
For his efforts Bryant took home game honors with 33 points on a sick 14 of 23 shooting effort. He also got the last laugh as Wade fouled out in the fourth. Kobe might not be doing the video game stuff you see from LeBron James but it is time to give him some MVP love.
Not to be left out of the SportsCenter highlights, James did his thing too. He had a nasty throw down in the first quarter and posted a nice line of 25, 13 and 7. But don’t be fooled by the stats. James had to work for his thanks to a retro Ron Artest sighting.
Metta World Peace might not have gone full Artest today but there was enough Ron Ron in his game to make life miserable for Miami. As solid as Metta’s D was his offense was equally impressive. 17 points on 6 of 10 shooting including a big three in the fourth that helped cool off the Heat.
Miami did make this one interesting, cutting a Laker lead that had swelled to 16 all the way down to 4 in the fourth.
Unlike what we’ve seen previously this season the Lakers closed with confidence. Bynum beasted the boards, made some tough buckets and even hit all his free throws. Kobe made his usual array of back-breaking jumpers. Most important of all was how the Lakers closed the lane down on any Heat that got into paint and forced contested shots.
This Laker team we saw today can compete with anybody. They owned the paint, communicated on defense, got out in transition and played with energy and attitude. They also got major contributions for World Peace. If that keeps happening then there is no doubt the Lakers can make some serious playoff noise, especially if they can figure out some way to get homecourt. Inside Staples the Lakers are a near impossible matchup. Away from L.A. is where the real problems can be found. That’s got to get fixed.
Now, without Bosh this one won’t have the same importance but this was the biggest win of the season for sure. A win Coach Brown can proudly watch game tape of knowing his system can work just as well against the NBA elite as it does the lesser squads.