The Lake Show is constantly finding new ways to build drama. With the playoff push underway it’s a bad time to be without your best player and head coach. For the fourth straight game the Lakers were minus a Mamba as Kobe Bryant gave his shin another night to recover. For the first time they went into battle without Mike Brown.
Just before the start of tonight’s potential playoff preview against the Denver Nuggets, Brown had to depart to handle a family matter. Nothing else is known at this time.
What we do know is that when the Lakers play with a focused effort like they did in their 103-97 win over Denver, they’re a tough team to beat even without Bryant and Brown.
John Kuester slid one seat down and Matt Barnes stepped his game up.
Kuester got the most out of Barnes’ 29 minutes on the court as the Lakers super sub went off for 24 and 10. The UCLA alum had a vintage Barnes game bringing that hyper when attacking the hoop and boards while also showing that deadly stroke from deep. In all Barnes needed only 11 shots to get his points, putting a season’s best total in the box score.
Coming off his 30 rebound game in San Antonio you had to figure Andrew Bynum could do more damage against the Nuggets. He wasn’t the same beast on the boards but Andrew owned the paint. He flipped the script dropping 30 points being a physical presence that helped L.A.’s offense flow freely. All night long Drew dealt with double teams but showed no sign of being worn down.
The man that really has it going all of a sudden is Metta World Peace. He continued the rediscovery of his inner Ron Artest with 14 points, 8 rebounds and 5 steals in another energetic effort. World Peace finally has his legs and his confidence is following.
For the most part the Lakers were in cruise control, building a big lead early then squandering it late. Pretty standard stuff for the Lake Show this year except this time they held on despite seeing Denver pull to within one point.
Since that debacle in Phoenix the Lakers have won three straight looking more comfortable each game played without Kobe. They torched the Nuggets shooting 50% as team proving their offense isn’t completely limited to Bryant’s brilliance.
Just when Kobe or Coach Brown will be back is unknown. Bryant is day-to-day while we’re all waiting to learn more of Brown’s situation. Hopefully the Lakers have learned how to win without Kobe or Brown but you’d prefer they not get used to it. Not when the NBA’s second season is right around the corner.