It’s been a longtime since I’ve been this caught up in a Laker game. Never mind all the drama of Steve Nash returning, Mike D’Antoni’s system taking shape or L.A.’s defensive deficiencies. When the Lakers and Warriors meet it’s almost always worth the price of admission.
Tonight’s overtime thriller ended the best way possible for the Lake Show. The scoreboard showed them as 118-115 victors. The record will show a fourth quarter comeback that rivals most anyone you’ll ever see from a Lakers squad (that 27 point reversal against the Mavs not withstanding). The box score will reflect a dominating performance by Kobe Bryant with a game-best 34 points on an insane 41 shots.
But your eyes can’t lie to you if you actually watched this one. If the Lakers lost you’d better believe Kobe’s shot attempts would have been the focal point. The reality is on nights like this Bryant didn’t put up enough shots.
To be sure Nash logging 41 minutes in his first action in months was huge. 12 points and 9 dimes from a Laker point guard is unheard of production these days. That is very welcome.
Having four players hit double figures off the bench is also very unheard of in Lakerland. Metta World Peace is indeed settling in to his sixth man role. 20 points off the bench is great production and if it keeps up we’ll have another Lakers sixth man award winner.
Something else that will be overlooked is the solid effort the Lakers gave on the defensive end with the game on the line. After surrendering easy buckets all night long to know Laker killer Jarrett Jack plus Steph Curry and Klay Thompson the D-less Antoni Lakers stepped up. Holding the high scoring Warriors to 21 points in the final frame is a real accomplishment for this team as the bigs swarmed while the perimeter defenders harassed.
But in the end it was KB24 (the KB representing Kold Blooded on nights like this) that took this game by the throat and made it his.
With the Lakers down by as much as 14 it was looking like another defenseless defeat. The usual headlines and discussions would have followed between now and Christmas.
But just when it looked like all was lost the pride of champions actually showed its face. The Lakers locked down on D, dialed up the intensity and upped the offensive output. A 10-0 run in fourth got this one within reach then a three by Kobe followed by a triple from the red hot Jodie Meeks gave the Purple and Gold a hard earned lead.
The game went back and forth before going into overtime but the common thread during every clutch moment of the contest was Kobe. Bryant buried jumpers over the smaller Jack. Hit off balance shots no matter the number of defenders the Warriors threw at him and nailed big three after big three in another memorable exhibition of crunch time heroics.
Like I said. It’s been a long time since I’ve been this caught up in a Laker game actually yelling at my flat screen as if my voice will travel via Time Warner wireless to Oakland. But I guess that’s the power of Nash. His presence definitely coincided with a gutsy performance the likes of which we haven’t seen all season. He even inspired Black Mamba to come out and play. There are still issues to be worked out. Neither Pau Gasol nor Dwight Howard were major factors in this one. D12 even fouled out. But a win built on the back of determination and the refusal to lose will go a long way in resurrecting championship talk. Oh…and that’s a season best four wins in a row now too.