A Look Ahead: The Lakers Face Three Playoff Caliber Teams in One Week

The Los Angeles Lakers look to continue their strong play this week as they have won five out of their last six, and their last three road games.

Before losing at home Sunday night for only the third time this year, the Lakers had won five straight games before Utah squeaked by them. It started with back-to-back road wins, first in Memphis and then in New Orleans. In both of these games, the Lakers started off the night slow and a little sluggish, but showed poise and confidence forcing both games into overtime before sealing the victories.

The game against Memphis went into double overtime with the Lakers winning 116-111, led by Kobe Bryant and Andrew Bynum, who combined for 71 of the Lakers points. Kobe showed why he is one of the best clutch players in the league as he knocked down the tying bucket at the end of regulation. And Bynum proved once again that his size and skill is just too over-powering for most NBA centers to handle. He scored a season high 37 points and had 16 rebounds. This was a game that Memphis let slip through their fingers–their largest lead was 17, they forced 18 turnovers, and despite being out rebounded 51-47, grabbed 14 offensive rebounds. These stats are what usually help a team win, but give credit to the Lakers for battling through adversity till the very end.

Following the game in Memphis on Tuesday night, the Lakers flew to New Orleans to battle against the worst team in the Western Conference, the Hornets. Once again the Lakers started slow, but finished strong. Maybe this will be the style of the Lakers from now on, slow start and strong finish instead of the strong start and slow finish like they exhibited this year against Washington, Philadelphia, and others.

Despite Jarrett Jack’s 30-point effort, and Kris Kaman’s 21-point night, the Lakers proved too strong overcoming a 15-point second half deficit. The Lakers received solid scoring from their three main players, Pau Gasol, 18, and Kobe Bryant, 33. But Bynum stole the show again with 25 points, 18 rebounds, four assists, two steals, and two blocks.

Friday night, the Lakers returned home to face the Minnesota Timberwolves, but this was not the same Lakers team from Wednesday. The NBA trade deadline had come and gone and the Lakers made a few moves. The biggest move was trading Luke Walton and Jason Kapono to Cleveland for Ramon Sessions, and Derek Fisher to the Rockets for center Jordan Hill. Hill did not play, but Sessions helped fuel the Lakers past the Timberwolves for the fourth time this year in his debut with seven points and five assists.

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Sunday the Lakers were not so fortunate against the Utah Jazz as they showed a lack of energy all night despite another outstanding performance from All-Star center Andrew Bynum, 33 points and 11 boards; Kobe probably had his worst shooting game ever going 3-20. He did have 15 points but eight of them came from the free throw line. Kobe did have an opportunity to tie the game at 102, but missed the three-point attempt resulting in the Lakers third home loss of the season.

The Lakers have a tough week ahead of them as they fly to Houston and then Dallas before returning home to play Portland and Memphis. Houston, Dallas, and Memphis are playoff teams while the Blazers are on the cusp, 3.5 games out of first place. Besides playing two playoff teams in Houston and Dallas, the Lakers have to go on the road again and face their problems head-on again. They won their last three road games, hopefully they continue their good road play this week.

Next Page: The Week Ahead

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