Game Report: Lakers defeat Warriors: 118-115
In Steve Nash’s first game back after missing 24, the 12-14 Lakers went on the road to play the 18-9 Warriors. They trailed by 14 in the fourth quarter, but battled back to force overtime, and then won it with clutch offense and solid defense.
This was an electric game, but it was also a very strange one.
Case in point: Kobe Bryant MISSED more shots (25) than any two of his teammates TOOK, combined (24). And yet he was still a part of the win, getting 34 points (his eighth straight 30-point game), 10 rebounds (for a double-double) and five assists.
Dwight Howard looked absolutely terrible tonight through three quarters, but once he picked up his fifth foul something changed, and he played great down the stretch and into overtime, fouling out with only nine seconds remaining. He actually ended up tying with Metta World Peace for the team lead in plus-minus, at +8.
For the first three quarters, Pau Gasol looked like I would out there but, you know, taller. He looked confused, and made bad decisions, including a memorable play where he had an open lane for a slam, but instead chose to pass into the corner, only to have his pass intercepted. But then something clicked late and he was a big part of the fourth quarter comeback and the overtime period.
Metta World Peace, Jordan Hill, and Steve Nash, however, looked great from start to finish.
MWP scored 20 points, including a key 3-pointer, and added five rebounds, three assists, a steal and a block, and finished tied with Dwight for the team lead in plus-minus at +8.
Jordan Hill, in 20 minutes, scored 14 points on 6 of 9 shooting, and grabbed eight boards, six of which were on the offensive end – he was all hustle, all night long.
Nash was not amazing, but he was very, very good. First of all, he logged 41 minutes, and did not look tired at any point. Secondly, he scored an efficient 12 points on 5 of 8 shooting, and recorded nine assists against only three turnovers. But mostly, it was his killer jumper on the Lakers’ last possession that put the team up by three. That meant the Warriors had to shoot a three on their final possession, which the Lakers defended well, because they knew it was coming.
The Lakers as a team passed the ball well tonight, recording an impressive 33 assists on their 49 baskets (67%). Nash led the way with nine assists, but six Lakers recorded at least three, including Kobe, which demonstrates good team ball movement.
What I liked most, though, was that with 2:27 remaining in the fourth quarter, Mike D’Antoni sent Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Dwight Howard, Steve Nash, and Metta World Peace onto the floor to finish the quarter, and they delivered, completing the comeback and sending the game into overtime.
Then, D’Antoni sent them back out in overtime, and they delivered again.
Whether the Lakers win or lose with the Big Five, it’s my opinion that D’Antoni has to play them in crunch time. And tonight, despite three of them having poor games overall, they came through for him in the end.
Lakers’ Player of the Game
Although MWP and Hill played great, I think the Player of the Game has to go to Nash. In his big comeback, he logged 41 minutes, and he shot efficiently, including a huge basket at the end. Maybe more importantly, his return seemed to inspire his teammates to pass the ball, which resulted in the Lakers recording a very impressive 33 assists on the night.
Tonight’s Top Two Tweets in my Twitter Feed
“Meaningful celebrations of the sort you simply never see after the Lakers win a regular season game… LA 118 – GST 115.” – @KevinDing, post-game tweet
“That was easily the most fun I’ve had watching a game this year. Let’s hope Christmas is just as thrilling. Good stuff tonight, folks.” – @LakersNation
Tuesday, December 25 vs. the New York Knicks, 12:00 p.m. PST