One quick admission: I had to tape the game last night when it replayed at midnight- I forgot about previous plans, and my DVR had to record too much to tape the live contest. Although I dislike missing games- especially games that I am supposed to cover- I did wake up at 7am to watch it before work this morning, so no harm no foul I suppose. The reason for this aside is mainly that Fox Sports West decided to skip the first 5 minutes of the second quarter during their rebroadcast. The score was 44-27 though, so the game was still well in hand; it doesn’t seem like I missed any drama.
Between Shannon and Lamar’s aggressive play, they had a combined 15 points off the bench before Steve Blake decided to get in on the action. He hit back to back field goals, one from downtown off an assist from LO and one with his foot on the line that was deemed a long two. With 5 minutes left in the half, the Lakers were still shooting a scorching 68% from the field, but the more incredible stat might be the 15 assists on 19 baskets.
The ball movement and flow within the offense was stellar. At the half, and for the game, L.A. led Utah in assists, bench points and points in the paint while only committing four turnovers. I would argue that those are the most crucial aspects of winning games against quality opponents, although a plus in the rebound category is highly important as we all know from the playoffs last year. The Lakers played an essentially perfect half.
I’m not sure how one tops a stellar first half, but I suppose opening the third quarter on a backdoor alley-oop lob from Gasol to Bynum is a good way to start. Andrew continued his dominance with a put back of his own miss a couple possessions later, and shoved everyone’s favorite enemy from years past (Raja Bell) to pick up a foul that I really didn’t mind him committing. I have been known to hold a grudge or two over the years.
Everyone just continued doing what they do best: Kobe hit his patented fallaway jumper, Ron had another takeaway on Miles, and Fish found Pau on the run along the baseline for a fantastic slam for his 18th point. Pau finished the night close to a double double, with 20 points, 7 boards and 5 assists while Andrew did reach the plateau behind his 19 points and 11 rebounds. He was efficient in 27 minutes and his defensive play was much smarter too, picking up only two fouls.