For the second game in a row, the Lakers delivered more than just a win for their fans – they delivered heart-pounding drama as well.
Tonight, the Lakers overcame an 11-point 4th quarter deficit to defeat the Toronto Raptors in overtime, and in the process improved their record to 32-31 – the first time they have had a winning record since securing a victory in Coach Mike D’Antoni’s Lakers debut, which moved them to 6-5.
And, for the second game in a row, Kobe Bryant was otherworldly in willing his team to the win.
Against the New Orleans Hornets two nights ago, Bryant became the second-oldest player in NBA history to record 40 points and 12 assists in a game.
Tonight, unbelievably, he did it again.
And it wasn’t just that Kobe had a big night – it was the timing of his points that made his performance heroic. He scored nine points in the final two minutes of regulation, going 3-4 on three-pointers, and then scored another four in overtime, including what would be the game winning slam dunk with 10 seconds remaining.
Dwight Howard, for the second game in a row, had a mammoth game himself. Tonight, Howard scored 24 points (9-15 FG, 6-13 FT), grabbed 13 rebounds, and recorded five blocks, three steals, and an assist. He also was a team-high +14 on the night.
Whereas it was Jodie Meeks who lent key support to Bryant and Howard in New Orleans, it was Steve Nash who did so tonight. Nash scored a season-high 22 points (7-13 FG, 4-6 3PT, 4-5 FT) to go along with four rebounds, two assists, and two steals.
Nash also hit a huge three-pointer with 45 seconds remaining in overtime to tie the game, setting the stage for Kobe’s game-winning slam.
Amazingly, the Lakers are now 9-0 in their last nine games that have been decided by single digits. The league is taking notice – if the game is close, the Lakers will close.
The Utah Jazz, though, are another story entirely. Tonight the Jazz lost to the Chicago Bulls 89-88 – their third consecutive loss, all of which have been by three points or less.
The Lakers win, coupled with the Jazz loss, moves the Lakers to within 0.5 games of a tie for 8th place. Since the Jazz have already clinched the tie-breaker with the Lakers, though, the Lakers are effectively 1.5 games outside of the play-off picture.
Still, that gap is closing at a rapid pace.
Three Lakers reached milestones tonight:
- Howard passed Alton Lister for 32nd place in career blocks, with 1,478.
- Bryant passed Nick Van Exel for 33rd place in career assists, with 5,780.
- Nash passed Grant Hill – at least temporarily – for 79th place in career points, with 17,130.
If you want to look for negatives in tonight’s Lakers win, then you will find them. For the second night in a row, the Lakers fell behind – this time by as much as 15 – to a team they could have dominated from the outset had they been committed on defense. And, despite his heroics, Kobe did turn the ball over nine times on an array of low percentage passes and drives straight into traffic jams.
But I would like to suggest that you not look for negatives.
The Lakers have faced a lot of adversity this year – especially from injuries – and they now appear to be overcoming it. After starting the season 17-25, they have since gone 15-6.
The Lakers may still be a work in progress, but they are progressing.
Lakers Player of the Game
Despite his nine turnovers – and even though Dwight had a monster night – player of the game has to go to Kobe Bryant.
Not only did Bryant surpass 40 points and 12 assists for the second night in a row – as a 34 year-old – but he scored nine points in the final two minutes of regulation to send the game to overtime, and then recorded what ended up being the game-winning basket with 10 seconds remaining – a drive that started outside the arc that ended with a two-handed slam.
Although fans will remember Kobe’s three 3-pointers at the end of regulation and his slam at the end of overtime, a key element of Kobe’s 41 points tonight was getting to the line and then converting – he shot a very impressive 14-16 from the line tonight.
Top Two Tweets in My Twitter Feed
“Kobe hitting shots like it’s nothing. Hitting tough, contested threes like it’s nothing. In the clutch. Over. And. Over. Again.” – @Lakerholicz, end-of-regulation tweet
“KOBE KOBE KOBE. I am so happy to be alive, and covering this organization at this time. One of those shots I’ll watch when I’m 90 years old.” – @SerenaWinters, end-of-regulation tweet
Sunday, March 10 vs. the Chicago Bulls, 12:30 p.m. PDT
TiqIQ’s job is finding the best deals and sellers out there for you, and for this game you may want to have a look at Barry’s Lakers tickets.