These Los Angeles Lakers are looking much more like the team we expected to be seeing all along. Today’s 103-99 victory over the Dallas Mavericks makes it 11 wins in their last 15 contests for the Lake Show. It also gets them to within 1 game of .500 and 2.5 out of the 8th and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
In a back and forth battle it would be the clutch heroics of Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash combined with an inspired defensive effort that made the difference. KB24 is morphing back into Mamba form at the right time. He scored 14 of his game high 38 points in the fourth quarter shooting a highly efficient 13 of 21 from the field.
Don’t think for a second that it was all midrange for Bryant either. Kobe knocked down 4 of 5 threes including a 30-footer in the first half that had jaws in Dallas on the floor.
Nash also flashed the offensive game we’ve been waiting for. He matched Kobe in three point prowess also making 4 of 5 attempts in scoring 20 with some big buckets being delivered during critical moments of the second half.
Mike D’Antoni is really tightening up his rotation as he only played 8 Lakers today. Antawn Jamison hit double figures once again scoring 13 as Jodie Meeks chipped in with 11 off the bench.
Dwight Howard has been playing some productive ball lately but his production tailed off today as he made just 2 of 7 from the floor scoring 9 but pulling down 13 rebounds. What matters most is D12 was active and aggressive in the paint as the Lake Show was a +15 during Dwight’s 33 minutes on the court. Some early foul trouble limited Howard’s impact but there is no doubt his value is finally being revealed.
The Mavs only had three players in double figures but one of those was Dirk Nowiztki who had his best game of the season going for 30 on only 19 shots. This was the Dirk of old who played with the fire of a champion and the offensive skill of a future Hall of Famer.
In the end KB24’s all-around game rounded out with 12 boards and 7 dimes was just too much for the Mavericks. This was a determined and focused effort by the Lakers who, perhaps not at all by coincidence, are playing their best hoops since the passing of Jerry Buss. They’ll need to keep that fire stoked as tomorrow the Lake Show swings through Denver for a back-to-back road swing sure to test those veteran legs.