However you feel about Derek Fisher’s departure from Los Angeles is going to be like a religious argument among Laker fans for eternity. No matter your feelings on the manner in which he was shown the door, in your heart of hearts you’ll never change your opinion of it.
But what makes the game of basketball a beautiful sport is that the truth is displayed live for the world to see…on the court. The truth is revealed before your very eyes.
No disrespect to Fisher at all. He is and always will be a legend among Lakers. Let that sink in for a second and think of all the other names that come up in that conversation.
All that being said the truth is in his first in 19 minutes as a Laker Ramon Sessions made the Lakers a better team. That’s without knowing the offense and not even knowing if he was eligible to play until two hours before tip.
The truth was on display tonight during the Lakers 19th straight win over Minnesota. The final score of 97-92 doesn’t explain how dominant L.A. was.
The Lakers led from start to finish. The Wolves made their runs but Rick Adelman milking the clock like his team was in trying to stay in the NCAA tourney was why the score was close in the end.
Now I don’t want to mislead you as if Sessions was why the Lakers controlled this contest. Not when Masked Mamba is mauling Minnesota. He lit it up from beyond the arc. Kobe’s stroke from deep has been disappointing this season so to see him sink 5 of 8 from three was a thing of beauty.
There were some of those vintage Mamba moments that KB24 has been busting out this year. A nice baseline throwdown on Nikola Pekovic in the first quarter finished off with the classic spin into a fade jumper in the fourth. On the night Kobe dropped 28 on 20 shots. Smush Parker could be playing point again when Bryant has a night like this and the Lakers can win. That is always going to be advantage: L.A.
One advantage the Lakers usually have is size. Not the case against Minneota.
Pekovic and Kevin Love made life miserable for Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum.
The Lakers seem to bring out the best in Pekovic who owned the paint with an impressive 20 and 12 night. Dude is a beast that plays physical and runs the court. Match that with K-Love going 27 and 15 all of sudden the combined 32 and 25 by L.A.’s twin towers just didn’t look as nice. Drew just couldn’t handle the double team. All of Minnesota’s size made life miserable for Bynum. He shot an unusually ugly 4 of 13.
Truth be told the Wolves won most of the major battles you need to in order to get Ws in the league. They were better on the boards and won the turnover battle.
What makes Mike Brown ball nice is his style is built to grind out wins even when things aren’t going your way. It’s got a mid-nineties, Indiana Pacer kinda feel to it if I can get all wine snobby about hoops for a minute.
The Lakers did give up another big lead. A very troubling trend. At one point they we were up to 16+ in the lead. So this one did turn into a grind at the end. They will always find ways to win at home in close contests. It’s doing the same on the road that’s been the problem.
Speaking of problems…Sessions is a problem for opposing defenses. He did things that Derek Fisher or any other player on the roster could never do. On one play in the first half dude was a one-man fast break. He got the ball at midcourt, took two dribbles, blew by J.J. Barea and was at the rim. 7 points, 4 boards and 5 dimes in what was simultaneously his fist practice and game as a Laker. He was just out there playing the game the way he knows how. He pushed the pace of the game getting easy looks for guys like Bryant and Matt Barnes.
Two great things about the now expired trade deadline are the addition of Sessions and the subtraction from Gasol. It’s simple math. I’ll explain.
Ramon + Lakers = Reinvented team
Pau – Trade Drama = A relaxed All-Star
Gasol was aggressive from the jump playing with a confidence we haven’t seen in some time. He put up 17 and 11 with ease. Wait until he gets his fire lit for the playoffs. I’ve got a feeling the Spaniard is about to up his game.
As for the elephant in the room…
Look…no matter how you feel about the Lakers without Fisher is your business. His name is in stone in Laker lore. That will never change.
All I know is that for the first time in 416 games Derek Fisher didn’t start for the Lakers. And for the first time in 416 games the Lakers were actually a better team without him. That would have never been the truth before tonight. Maybe what we don’t see in the locker room is lost. But what we see on the court is a huge gain.
And that is just the truth.