Stop me if you heard all this before. The Lakers started off a road game looking like they had more interest in the soap back at the team hotel than the actual game. The fell behind by 17-points to a shorthanded squad only to flip the switch in the second half, make a furious comeback to force overtime and then pull it out in the extra period.
If that sounds familiar then don’t worry. You’re not going to hear Sonny and Cher playing again when your alarm goes off tomorrow morning. It’s just the latest in another newfound recipe for success unearthed by the Lakers.
It took a hot shooting Hornets team to awaken the sleepwalking Lakers in tonight’s single serving of OT victory. It also took a 17-point deficit to get those competitive juices going.
After going to the locker room trailing by 14, Mike Brown must have reminded his team that the principle cast of Tarantino’s new flick, Django Unchained, was in the building and the Lake Show needed to match their acting brilliance with a command hoops performance.
Andrew Bynum shifted into beast mode. Kobe Bryant busted out the Masked Mamba persona. Not to be left out Metta World Peace dusted of his Ron Ron.
L.A. battled back, outscoring the Hornets by 14 in the third and then needed another run late to force OT. 19 more turnovers created unnecessary turmoil for the Lakers but thankfully they had Greivis Vasquez to bail them out late. The former Terp put in a solid showing off the bench but got too overzealous defending Kobe late.
With mere seconds left in regulation and the Hornets leading by three, Vasquez fouled Mamba while shooting a triple. That might have been the moment that officially robbed the Hornets of their mojo.
Bryant buried all three of his freebees and this one was on its way to an extra five minutes of hoop.
In OT it was the Mamba and Metta takeover. Bryant stayed aggressive on offense while World Peace was a terror on defense. Showing some serious symptoms of Artest, Metta stripped Jarrett Jack and got an open court layup then blocked Chris Kaman’s shot late to seal the deal. Coach Brown made it a point to pull Metta aside to praise him for his clutch defensive performance, perhaps hoping to inspire more moments like this from the mercurial defender.
Continuing his emergence as a dominant force Bynum abused the Hornets on the block. The first time All-Star has been All-Galaxy lately and that continued with another fantasy wet dream of 25 and 18 with 2 blocks. Drew didn’t really get it going until the second half however the budding chemistry between him and Bryant is undeniable. It’s still premature to start the Kobe-Shaq comparisons but the warning signs are there.
Pau Gasol also put in an honest 18 and 10 on the eve of the trading deadline. Was this his final performance as a Laker? Doubtful but anything is possible.
If indeed anything is possible then the Lakers can actually learn a little something about how to win on the road. Tonight’s W was their fourth in a row three of which have come away from Staples. Part of that learning process will be making sure to take care of the ball. Turnovers are making the road that much more difficult to the top of the West.
They’ve also got to focus on improving that perimeter D. Jack dropped 30, second best to Mamba’s 33. Even more frightening is that Jack shot a sickening 13 of 21. Hey, it’s the NBA so guys are going to have nights like this. It just seems like they happen a little too often when the Lakers are the opponent.
Overall this was the kind of two game road swing that could go a long way in building team unity. Oddly enough it comes a day before the Lakers could make a minor shakeup to their roster with more Michael Beasley rumors floating around.
For now let’s just enjoy seeing this team play with an inspired sense of purpose for two consecutive nights on the road. They make it looks as difficult as it truly is to win away from home in the NBA but the important thing is the Lakers are winning at the right time.