The Los Angeles Lakers were at times exasperating, at times feisty, and at times downright ugly last week. But in the end, the team captured two wins in three games, with a semblance of an offense for the first time all season.
For the first time in five weeks of this season, the Lakers played less than four games in a week. Their three-game schedule allowed for the team to have its first full contact practice since training camp, something not allowed as the team opened with 18 games in their first 29 days of the season.
The Lakers began their week on Wednesday with a showdown with their crosstown rivals, the Los Angeles Clippers, in their second of three meetings this season. The Clippers, who won both preseason matchups against the Lakers and then again in the regular season on January 14, led for nearly all of the first three quarters on Wednesday. But the Lakers pulled ahead for good on a Kobe Bryant jump shot with five minutes remaining, and won a physical affair at Staples Center.
The game against the Clippers was chippy for most of the night, and featured six technical fouls, one flagrant foul, and even an injection. Clippers point guard Chris Paul did not take kindly to Pau Gasol touching his head, and tempers flared.
|Field Goal %:||47.6%|
|True Shooting %:||56.2%|
|Wednesday: Lakers 96, Clippers 91|
|Saturday: Milwaukee 100, Lakers 89|
|Sunday: Lakers 106, Minnesota 101|
The Lakers had two more days off after the Clipper game before heading to the midwest for a brief weekend road trip beginning in Milwaukee. The Bucks were without their center Andrew Bogut, who broke his ankle earlier in the week, and were without the suspended Stephen Jackson, leaving Milwaukee with only Brandon Jennings as a scorer who has averaged double figures this year.
But it didn't matter on Saturday night, as the Bucks used a 17-0 run in the first half to run away and hide from the Lakers, delivering their seventh road defeat in eight games away from home this season.
Sunday provided another opportunity for that elusive second road win of the season for the Lakers, and midway through the third quarter the game was in the bag as L.A. held an 18-point lead over the Minnesota Timberwolves.
However, by the end of the third quarter the lead was down to five points, and midway through the fourth quarter the Timberwolves grabbed the lead. But Bryant, Gasol, and Andrew Bynum keyed a 12-2 run that put the game away for the Lakers, giving them a 106-101 win. The trio combined for 84 points, and the Lakers scored 100 points in a game for just the second time in 21 games all season.
The 106 points snapped a string of 13 consecutive games for the Lakers without reaching the century mark, a franchise record during the shot clock era. The Lakers did find their offensive rhythm for the week, averaging roughly 1.12 points per possession, well above their season average of 1.02. The problem was the defense, which also allowed 1.12 points per possession, something that will need to be corrected going forward.
The week could have easily ended with three losses for the Lakers, and might possibly could have ended with three wins. The Lakers managed two wins which, given the way this season is going, might just be enough to get by.
Here are some individual numbers for the week:
- Kobe Bryant: 28.7 points per game, 9.7 rebounds per game, 5.7 assists per game, 57.1% true shooting percentage, set franchise career records for free throws made and field goals made
- Pau Gasol: 21.0 ppg, 10.3 rpg, 4.0 apg, 60.4 TS%
- Andrew Bynum: 18.3 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 2.33 blocks per game, 60.9 TS%
- Andrew Goudelock: the rookie guard got his first real playing time and averaged 11.3 ppg with a 65.7 TS%
For more news and notes on the Lakers, be sure to read Silver Screen and Roll.