Don’t Look Now, But Guess Who’s Back?
Staples Center – Los Angeles, CA
Smoke and mirrors or is this the real deal? A true test against a quality opponent. Prime time on national TV. Turning the corner on a season full of blind curves. Hugs and high-fives or another volatile team meeting? Sunday whites and a blue headband. D-Fish sitting courtside with Matt Kemp. A must-win if the Lakers intend to play in the post-season. Double OT between Boston-Miami means a “Heidi” 1st quarter for Laker fans. Horace Grant, Devean George and Kareem Rush stage a reunion at Staples. Happy Birthday Dr. Jerry Buss. I betcha he’ll have some help blowing out his candles… amongst other things.
World Peace splashes a 3-pointer and the battle-royale begins. Whoa, too many turnovers from our new point guard. OKC’s length proves to be effective against LA’s lazy passes. The Thunders’ alternate jerseys look like jr. high school unis. Kobe is looking to distribute. Nash is looking to score. D12 is still looking for the ball. Westbrook doesn’t waste any time before he starts jawing with courtside fans. Free throws are not free for the Lakers. Russell Westbrook searching for the basket but still putting up some dimes. Not to be outdone, Kobe is beating the Thunder with his passing, not his scoring. Serge Ibaka biting on the Jamison 3-fake and ends up with the bottom of his shoes facing the heavens.
Asked if he was enjoying all the passing, Bryant said: I enjoy winning.
Jodie Meeks and Antawn Jamison in the line-up at the same time, Oh my! Steve Nash self-analyzes his play, “Fuck, goddamn it. I suck!” Antawn switches into Mamba-mode. I thought Reggie Jackson was a baseball player… Hasheem Thabeet has bird shit on his head. Kevin Durant scores at will, with ease, and whenever he wants. Another Nash splash off a Kobe assist! This role-reversal thing just might work… MWP has come to play today. Kendrick Perkins makes a jumper, miraculously. Westbrook’s first bucket gives OKC the lead at halftime, 53-52.
Kobe matches Durant and Durant matches Kobe. Perkins thumps Kobe with the hard foul. Kobe agonizes, holding his lower back as Staples transforms into a church. Missed calls and make-up calls are ruining the game. Duhon is making Laker fans yearn for the return of Steve Blake. Kobe and Westbrook briefly exchange phone numbers and make dinner plans. D12 gets the standing O as he goes to line… and misses both. LA takes a meager 76-75 lead heading to the 4th.
Meeks drains a 3-ball, then a 13-ft jumper; MWP delivers another 3-pointer; Pau converts the lefty, lucky, prayer skyhook; Dwight finally makes a free throw; all while Nash and Kobe get some much needed rest. Kobe finds Clark for an exclamation point slam! Nashty, making it look easy. Gasol, off the bench to start, but in the game at the end. A 19-9 run to put the game away.
Kobe “Magic” Bryant – 21-pts/14 assists/9 rebounds; Steve Nash – 17-pts/5 assists; Metta World Peace – 15-pts/10 rebounds/3 assists; Pau Gasol – 16-pts/4 rebounds/4 assists; Earl Clark – 11-pts/4 rebounds; D12 – 8-points/10 rebounds; Antawn Jamison – 12-pts/2 rebounds. Holding the highest scoring team to under 100-points. A statement and a signature win. Laker fans believe again. A collective “Oh shit…” was heard across the NBA because the Lakers are baaaaack.