As a team, the Lakers looked razor-sharp on offense. At times they ran the triangle impeccably, leading to easy baskets, good floor spacing and Pau Gasol putting his full range of skills on display. By maintaining their focus and taking care of the basketball, the Lakers only committed six turnovers, taking away the Spurs’ ever-reliant transition offense.
The Lakers have been on all sides of the regular season spectrum. They’ve won close games, lost some heartbreakers, been on both the giving and receiving end of blow-outs, have rose above the mid-season trade chatter, started off winning eight games in a row and at one point lost four straight. They’ve weathered every imaginable storm and here they stand now, playing their best basketball of the season and not even completely reaching their peak.
“I think we’re in a good moment,” Gasol said. “Right now we’re going through really a confident time but it’s still the regular season, it’s still one game. … We have to be at our peak later on, not right now.”
In terms of flipping the switch, the Lakers have yet to turn off the one that controls their mental toughness. It’s still a long road ahead to June and no one knows it better than Bryant.
“Even if you’re playing extremely well throughout the course of the year, you still have to make improvements,” said Bryant. “You can’t just play one way and stay at the same level. You have to continue to try and get better whether you’re playing poorly or you’re playing great at the start of the year.”
Spoken like a true leader.
Bryant isn’t perfect. At times he does too much and leaves the Lakers with little room for error. Even as he’s setting personal milestones left and right this season—his next could come as early as Tuesday night in Atlanta—he still remains focused on leading his team towards one thing.
Climbing Bill Russell’s ladder.