Is it better to be good or lucky? Fortunately, the Lakers were both as they barely survived a youthful Bobcats team in a thrilling 101-100 victory, handing the Bobcats their 12th loss in row, and extending their winning streak to 3 in the process.
It also marked the return of Pau Gasol in to the lineup and he definitely made a case for why he should stay with the Purple and Gold. Although it was an underwhelming night for the Spaniard in terms of scoring, he certainly made his presence felt with a filled stat sheet of 10 points, 9 boards, 5 dimes and 4 blocks. For a portion of the game, it seemed that Gasol’s comeback would be spoiled by Kemba Walker and the rest of the Bobcats but the Lakers overcame an 18-point deficit to win the nail-biter.
Dwight Howard also put up huge numbers with 16 points, 18 boards and 4 blocks and it brings a smile to my face thinking that Superman isn’t even in perfect condition yet. Kobe Bryant once again shouldered most of the load on offense dropping his 7th straight 30-point game making him the only player in the league AND the oldest player in NBA history to have that scoring streak. No big deal for the Mamba. Metta World Peace continued his improved level of play with 17 points, 7 boards and 4 steals alongside Jodie Meeks who provided the spark off the bench with his 17 points of his own.
Despite big games from their starters as well as their bench, it was by no means a dominating display by the Lakers. In fact, it highlighted the glaring concerns that have cost the Lakers time and again throughout this season. Kemba Walker had a monster night with 28 points, 7 dimes and 5 boards. If that wasn’t enough damage at the point guard spot, former Laker Ramon Sessions also had a big game racking up 20 points and 6 assists. The Lakers caught a lucky break especially in the waning moments of the game when the Bobcats had the chance to win it several times. Regardless, it shouldn’t take a 30-4 run in order to beat the Bobcats. The Lakers are better than that. If they want the rest of the league to believe so, they need to prove it with consistency because they might not be so lucky next time around.
A chain is only as strong as its weakest link, and it is pretty obvious that the Lakers are severely lacking when it comes to defending the point. In a league with an overabundance of young and talented point guards, the Lakers need to address the problem as a major priority. I’m sure this is not an issue that is overlooked, but throughout the season, a game against the Lakers has been a field day for every elite point guard in the NBA.
Having said that, it is almost Christmas and I want to end on a positive note so let’s practice a little Christmas spirit and be thankful for what we’re getting, and what to look forward to.
In the case of the Lakers, it’s two-time MVP Steve Nash who is reportedly preparing for a return to the lineup very soon. While he may not be a good defender, he does more than make up for it by making the D’Antoni offense run much better. The Lakers’ bad defense is mostly bad transition defense which can be attributed to a lot of low percentage shots and turnovers, both of which will undoubtedly decrease with Nash running the point.
I could be getting ahead of myself but I am just that damn excited to finally have a chance to see the Lakers the way they were supposed to be from the start of the season. Nash may not live up to all our expectations and we must be prepared for that, but it’s safe to say that the team is in better hands when Steve Nash is playing quarterback. The Lakers are going to need all the help they can get as they pay a visit to Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors for their next game.