The Lakers pulled out a victory in a thrilling, must-win game.
With 15 seconds remaining, the Kings were down by three points with the ball, but a DeMarcus Cousins three-point attempt fell short, and the Lakers gathered the rebound. Kobe Bryant then hit two free throws to seal the game.
There were so many great Laker performances tonight – three players recorded double-doubles – that it’s difficult to believe this was a close game, but it truly was. The Lakers’ biggest lead of the game was only seven points.
Dwight Howard was dominant once again tonight, scoring 24 points (10-14 FG, 4-12 FT), pulling down 15 rebounds, and blocking five shots in 40 minutes of play.
Steve Nash played less than two minutes before having to leave the game with a re-aggravated right hamstring strain, but Bryant and Pau Gasol were nothing short of heroic in taking over the play-making duties.
Kobe Bryant, on the night he passed Wilt Chamberlain for fourth place in career scoring, fell just short of a triple-double, recording 19 points (5-18 FG, 0-4 3PT, 9-11 FT), 14 assists, and nine rebounds. Remarkably, Bryant played all but 22 seconds of tonight’s game.
Gasol also had a double-double, scoring 12 points (6-11 FG) and dishing out 10 assists.
Unbelievably, Bryant and Gasol combined for 24 assists against only one turnover. They also combined for 86% of the Lakers’ 28 assists on the night.
The bench contributed a very important 32 points, led by Steve Blake with 15 (5-9 FG, 5-8 3PT).
One of the key stats of the game was that the Lakers, led by Bryant and Gasol, committed just seven turnovers on the night, after having committed 18 and 21 in their previous two games. The seven turnovers tied a season low.
The win was crucial because the Rockets, Jazz, and Mavericks – the three teams the Lakers are battling with down the stretch – all won today. Only two of these four teams will make the play-offs, and if the season ended today, the Rockets and Jazz would be in, and the Lakers and Mavericks would be out.
That four-team battle will make for an epic game on Tuesday, when the Lakers host the equally desperate Dallas Mavericks.
Lakers’ Player of the Game
The Lakers’ Player of the Game tonight was Dwight Howard, who had yet another very active game, scoring 24 points, grabbing 15 rebounds, and blocking five shots.
Tonight’s performance was just an extension of his remarkable play since the all-star break. Howard has now recorded at least 11 rebounds in 20 consecutive games.
Top Two Tweets in My Twitter Feed
“Hopefully Lakers can build off this Win and treat the Dallas game as an absolute Must-Win. But this is the 2013 Lakers, so who knows.” – @Kbookid, post-game tweet
“If the Lakers face the Kings in the finals, I have confidence that they can take a 7 game series.” – @basquiatball, post-game tweet
Tuesday, April 2, vs. the Dallas Mavericks, 7:30 p.m. PDT