Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
The Lakers were on the rebound and it just so happened that the Portland Trailblazers became the easiest target. After looking their age in Denver the Lake Show rolled back the clock and uncorked an old fashioned butt-whooping on the Blazers Friday night.
All the effort that was lacking in the Mile High City reappeared inside Staples on the night Jamaal Wilkes joined the most exclusive club in all of basketball.
Wilkes saw his #52 hung alongside the proud and few retired jerseys in franchise history while his team did right but him in a wire-to-wire 104-87 romp.
For Dwight Howard Friday night was about getting his head right. After going Baby Bynum in Denver the Dwight doubt was reaching a fever pitch during a whirlwind 48 hours. Howard’s desire, effort and attitude were all called into question.
His response? A 21-point, 14 rebound bonce back game that briefly showed flashes of the man L.A. thought they were getting when Mitch Kupchak again moved a mountain via trade.
If we’re being honest about this though anything less would have only increased Howard’s already questionable commitment. When J.J. Hickson and his high motor yet short stature are in the starting five playing center then your All-Star big had better flex.
The Lake Show sucked any drama out of this one early on racing out to a double digit lead in the first, relaxing a little in the second then shifting into destruction mode after halftime.
Maybe it was the notion of knowing history was being made at Staples that evening as Wilkes watched in amazement while his number joined the ranks of the elite. It certainly seemed to inspire Kobe Bryant who played with a boyish energy that spread like wildfire throughout Staples.
Bryant was all over the court as he harassed on D, ran the floor on O all the while attacking like there was no tomorrow. While his 27-points on only 18 shots took game honors KB24’s streak of 10 straight with 30 did come to a conclusion.
But that is more than OK when the Lakers defend the way they did last night.
No need for Bryant to go off for 40 when the L.A. defense leads the way. The first time these two teams met it was rookie sensation Damian Lillard’s coming out party. On Friday night it was his reminder that duplicating great performances is easier said than done in the NBA. The rook was held to 11 on an ugly 4 of 17 shooting night.
Of course stopping Lillard isn’t the only reason why the Lakers dominated from start to finish. Winning the rebound battle went a long way in keeping this one out of reach. Finally the Lakers got back to owning the boards, something they haven’t done much of on Mike D’Antoni’s watch.
Something else that was A-typical of these D’Antoni Lakers was the offensive output on the evening. While the Lakers did break the 100-point plateau they did so with only three players in double figures. Kobe, D12 and Pau Gasol paved the way with the Spaniard again flexing his long range ability.
Pau is getting awfully comfortable shooting from beyond the arc as he again went two of three from three point land. Overall Gasol’s all-around game is rounding into form. 15 with 9 boards and 5 dimes is a nice line for only 30 minutes of work.
With regards to doing work the Lakers are once again back to .500 as they inch their way within striking distance of a playoff position. The next time the Lake Show takes the stage will be the first day of 2013. A new year that hopefully brings new results. Maybe Howard and his team needed the wake up call in Denver. If so let’s hope that’s the one and only one they’ll need the rest of the way. From here out they’ll have to treat every night like its Jamaal Wilkes nights.