Are we ready to believe in this Lakers team yet? They’ve certainly given us plenty of reason to think the corner has finally been turned having won six of their last seven including an unheard of three (should be four) straight on the road.
Tonight’s 92-83 gem against the Brooklyn Nets is without question the best road victory of the season.
Without the services of both Dwight Howard and Metta World Peace it might have appeared as if there was more hope for Sarah Palin to win Jeopardy than there was for the Lakers to win in Brooklyn. Then you factor in the absolute dominance of the Nets on the boards not to mention Brook Lopez being unstoppable and surely there was no shot.
For the record the Lake Show was out-boarded 52-40 while Lopez went off for 30 and 11. But the only numbers that matter are the ones on the scoreboard.
L.A. used the momentum from a stellar second period combined with poise down the stretch to earn a quality win against a playoff opponent in their own crib.
Kobe Bryant is slowly distancing himself from his Magic act as Steve Nash slides back into his natural role. KB24 led the Lakers with 21 on 24 shots but he did hit the boards pulling in 8 rebounds. Kobe’s real value was on the defensive end tonight where he played the Metta role by harassing the Nets forcing turnovers and bad decisions en route to 4 steals. Of course Bryant earned the highlight of the night when he threw a nasty one down on Gerald Wallace and the former Mr. Kardashian.
As for Nash his 17 points and 8 dimes looked more like the type of production we’ve been expecting all season. He needed only 11 shots to do his scoring and helped to reduce all those terrible turnovers that have troubled this team. The Lakers as a team only turned it over 13 times compared to 17 for the Nets.
Truthfully the real story is the defense L.A. played. For whatever reason the Brooklyn boys bring out the best in the usually defenseless D’Anonti squad. The team formerly from New Jersey could muster only 35% shooting from the field including a hideous 6 of 23 from deep. Those numbers will always help get the Purple and Gold closer to victory.
Not to be forgotten Earl Clark once again did his In-N-Out, double-double special going for 14 and 12. There is no doubt he’s been the surprise of the season and his production was needed as Pau Gasol reverted to his sixth man form.
As a starter Gasol had looked like The Spaniard of old until tonight’s stop in NYC. His efficient ways were gone making just 6 of 16 for 15 points and he was MIA on the boards pulling down just 4 rebounds. However the concern going isn’t so much Pau’s performance as it is his health. In the fourth Gasol sustained a foot injury that ended his night but hopefully won’t do the same to his season.
Another man that gave the Lakers a real lift was Steve Blake who made some big plays in the critical third quarter. On the night Blake Show scored just 7 points but his fingerprints were all over this win as well.
For D’Anonti this sudden change in momentum has got to feel like validation. Maybe this guy does have a clue or maybe his team just finally had enough. No matter the exact reason the right results are finally coming L.A.’s way. Now comes the real moment of truth as the rival Boston Celtics pop up on the schedule Thursday. It might not be the sexiest matchup we’ve seen of these two bitter rivals but it certainly is a meaningful one for many reasons. Maybe it’s time to start believing even if that belief is only limited to the hopes of actually making the postseason and nothing more.