Going back to Game 5 of the previous round against OKC, our bench has slowly been picking up their play and contributing valuable minutes during the last few contests. Leading the way has been Shannon Brown as he’s been actively aggressive on the offensive end and if you noticed yesterday, he was also skying high to snatch rebounds into his big mits. Farmar has been somewhat spotty, but all in all, he’s been playing pretty steady basketball under control.
Although Lamar’s game has been highly criticized for much of the post-season, you can never discount his importance to our championship hopes. The offensive rebound and put-back that he executed late in crunch time off a Kobe miss to put us up 98-95 was quite possibly the most important play of the game.
Not to beat this point to death, but you really can’t judge LO by the numbers, especially in this series because he is a true matchup nightmare for the Jazz and usually has some of his best games against them in the playoffs.
I realize that Luke Walton isn’t exactly the most popular guy with Laker fans, but give the guy some credit. As much as you may want to hate on him and call him worthless (which I have been guilty of in the past), I think we really felt the detriment of his absence during the season with the erratic play of the second unit.
Walton’s incredibly high basketball IQ and passing ability, two elements that Jeff Van Gundy highlighted during Game 1, are what stabilize our bench’s offensive execution. Simply put, we need him as much as anyone else to repeat and he was quietly instrumental in the Game 1 victory.
The bench did struggle in the second half and did basically allow the Jazz to come all the way back, but I won’t slam them for it mainly due to the fact that we still pulled out the victory. And for a group that has had players shuffled around all season due to injury, they’re starting to come together, albeit gradually. We all know that if they don’t play well, we will not be crowned as champs at the end of the race.
They do however, need to improve their shot selection and play with a little more discipline on the defensive end.
NEXT: Batman and Robin.[phpbay]nike zoom kobe v pop, 3, “”, “”[/phpbay]