And the Grammy Award Goes To…
AmericanAirlines Arena – Miami, FL
4-3 on the Grammy trip and creeping ever so slowly back into the playoff picture. Phoenix; a disappointing collapse to start the road trip after an impressive 3-0 home stand. But Kobe’s not worried so why should we? Minnesota; back on the winning track but questions begin to arise about this team’s collective frame of mind. Detroit; scene of the Malice at the Palace and MWP channels his inner Ron Artest. The Lakers win but not because they earned it. They survive with shoddy defense and poor execution. Brooklyn; Kobe displays at 34 what most couldn’t do when they were 22. The biggest road win of the season at a price… Pau Gasol goes down and is out 6-8 weeks with a torn plantar fascia.
Boston; Did Kobe really call out Dwight? Did Steve Nash really tell Howard to suck it up? More drama off the court results in a lopsided Leprechaun landslide. KG and Pierce make mincemeat out of an overmatched, and perhaps over-rated Lakers squad. Charlotte; more lackluster play results in a 20-point hole midway through the third. Kobe with 0-points at halftime. Ramon Sessions playing like the PG the Lakers were searching for. A miraculous recovery led by Kobe, although the Black Mamba is none too happy with his teammates performance. Miami; the final stop of the road trip facing the defending champs before heading back home.
Earl Clark is our difference maker. Early success this time around instead of the Miami dunkfest at Staples. Kobe doin’ Kobe things. Lebron taking flight like Jordan but finishing with power like the Mailman. MWP looks small compared to King James. Steve Nash is now Kobe’s favorite target on the pick-n-roll. Miami shows very little weakness in any area, except in the middle. D12 exploits the middle like biting into a Tootsie-Pop. A see-saw battle throughout the first half. DWade can’t guard Kobe. Lebron can’t guard Kobe. No one can guard Kobe. While everyone else utilizes picks and screens to elude their defender, Kobe does it by himself.
A quick burst at the end of the 3rd gives Miami the advantage heading to the 4th. Wade appears to hit Kobe on the arm several times, but Kobe can’t buy a call. Turnovers begin to take a toll. Lebron, a runaway freight train slams the door shut. DWade adds the nails to the coffin with the and-1. At this point, Miami is better than the Lakers but they showed glimpses of what can be if they continue to play together as a team. Optimistic or reality settling in? Will Dwight stay or will he continue to be a roller coaster ride? Can Kobe carry this team on his weary shoulders until Pau returns? Will D’Antoni ever coach this team the way Laker fans feel he needs to? 3.5 games out of the 8-spot with 30 to go.