Staples Center had a familiar aura Monday night. Tons of celebrities were present, Lamar Odom checked in off the bench to a standing ovation by the Lakers’ sold out arena, and Derek Fisher hit yet another dagger three point shot to hoist the Los Angeles Lakers (10-5) over the defending champion Dallas Mavericks (8-6).
The only differences were the absence of Phil Jackson sitting on his throne, a fluid offense, and the fact that Lamar Odom was checking in for the other team. Derek Fisher would remind his team of what happened last May early Monday, and after his heroics at the end of the night, it would appear he intended on doing something about it.
The game was quite ugly, to say the least. With neither Dirk Nowitzki (21 points) or Kobe Bryant (14 points, seven assists) scoring in the first quarter, both teams lacked for offense. Odom checked in for the Mavs to a very well deserved standing ovation by the Staples Center crowd. He was greeted with a hug by former teammate Derek Fisher, and was visibly touched by the emotional ovation. Bryant finally scored in the second quarter off of an errant pass by Shawn Marion which led to an easy slam. This seemed to spark him, as he began shooting, and making his next few shots.
The Lakers would finally find a way to score in the fourth quarter, outscoring the Mavs 27-19, led by the man of the hour, or should we say, the man of the fourth quarter, Derek Fisher.
Always a topic of criticism in L.A., the resilient Fisher scored 9 of his 13 points in the fourth quarter.
After stealing a pass and going all the way for a layup at the other end, Fisher (13 points, three steals) scored another basket, then earned two free throws during a Lakers 17-6 run. Moments later, with the game tied 70-70, Bryant got the ball and passed it to his long time backcourt mate, who hit his patented three point dagger at the expense of the Mavs with just 3.1 seconds left on the clock. The Mavericks were unable to score on a three point attempt by Vince Carter as time expired.
When asked in a post-game interview about his game winning shot, Fisher replied, “This is what I do.” The ever-confident Derek Fisher, whose scoring average and minutes have taken a hit this year (4.9 points per game in 25 minutes), once again proved his worth to the Lakers.
He is constantly the target of Lakers’ fans, as he is seen as the biggest liability on defense. Perhaps he is, but no one can question his heart, late game heroics, or leadership. At 37 years-old, the guy still comes to play and comes to win every night. He is always there to make game changing plays on offense and defense. And when the Lakers are in need of a big shot, he is perhaps the only person Kobe Bryant truly trusts besides himself to take it and make it.
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