As the fourth quarter began, the Knickerbockers continued to struggle on offense as they could not find a steady flow. They looked completely lost and were not executing any plays as they relied on the moves of Anthony.
This obviously was not the best method to come back in a ball game because their ball movement suffered dramatically, which converted to 10 missed shots for the quarter. The Knicks were a dismal 31.3 percent from the field for the entire game, while the Lakers were able to post up 52 percent from the field.
Things were a bit chippy the entire game from the Knicks end as each member of their big three picked up a technical foul. During the first quarter Chandler had some words for Gasol as he picked up a technical foul. Later in the first half Carmelo Anthony picked up his own T for shouting obscenities at one of the referees for not calling a foul. And finally Stoudemire picked up a T in the third quarter.
What defined the night was a put-back slam that Barnes performed after Bryant missed a fastbreak layup during the fourth quarter . After Barnes converted on the dunk, Bryant just kept smiling and laughing. What followed this dunk was a series of three-point shots which were beautifully set up by Bryant.
UCLA alum Jason Kapano has played a very limited roll for the Lakers for the past three games, but tonight he sent a strong message to the Knicks that he still has his sweet three point game. He made two sweet three-pointers, ending the night with night points, three assists, and two rebounds. The Lakers acquired Kapano during the pre-season so that they can bolster their three-point shooting, and that is exactly what Kapano delivered last night with his effort.
The Lakers showed a great performance from behind the arc as they were able to make 9-15 of their three pointers. The bench played a huge component to this three-point effort as they made seven of those shots. This is a huge improvement in the season as they had only made 11 for 48 from downtown leading up to this game for a total of 23 percent.
The Lakers were able to pull away toward the end of the game with their offensive explosions and suffocating defense for a 99 – 82 victory, which ultimately evened their record to 2-2. What was most impressive from this victory was that their bench were extremely effective as they posted 40 points and 18 rebounds. If the bench reproduces this type of effort night in and night out, the Lakers will be a very dangerous team down the road in April.
We also learned last night that the new defensive-minded Lakers have more of an east coast style that relies on gritty play as opposed to a fast-tempo offense. Bryant has shown a lot of respect for Brown’s new system for the team and all Laker fans should learn to embrace this new style.
All of the Laker players seem to be adjusting pretty well to the new offensive and defensive systems, and once Bynum rejoins the squad, the Lakers should be in position for a great run.