Now that’s what I call a basketball game! Last night’s contest between the Lakers and the Dallas Mavericks had a lot riding on the outcome: both teams are neck-in-neck for the 2nd seed in the Western Conference, and with only two weeks left in the regular season every game counts. The tension was palpable throughout Staples Center especially in the second half: everyone, from the players to the coaches to the fans could feel the playoff atmosphere permeating the game.
While I didn’t feel that the first half started strong defensively for the Lakers, there were other positives. Instead of settling for jumpers the whole team was driving inside to the paint, including Derek Fisher and Steve Blake.
Drew had a particularly strong move against three defenders and just powered his way through to get the basket. Pau is often the antithesis to Bynum’s brute strength and showed his versatility by using his soft touch for one of the Lakers’ many second chance opportunities.
L.A was working together all night and dominated on the boards, in the paint, and shared the ball. In the second quarter, Kobe got a steal, Ron missed a three, Lamar rebounded the ball and Pau got the put back dunk: that sequence epitomizes what the Lakers are all about.
The defense improved mightily in the second half and they pulled away for good to win by 28 points. Lamar had a double double off the bench and Andrew had one as well to go along with Kobe’s 28 points.
It was a dominant performance by a team absolutely rolling since the All Star Break: the Lakers are now 16-1 since, and the only team with a better post-All Star record ever was the 1999-2000 Lakers who went 16-0 through the first sixteen games. The most exciting part is that they aren’t letting up; something clicked mentally for the purple and gold, and they are locked in with their eyes on June. I love seeing how hungry and determined they are, it’s very encouraging.