Los Angeles Lakers: Postgame Wrap

Rapid Reaction: Kings 113, Lakers 97

November, 21, 2012
11/21/12
10:02
PM PT
Kamenetzky By Brian Kamenetzky
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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Said Mike D'Antoni after his first loss as head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers, Wednesday night in Sacramento:

"I thought we were very lethargic. From the opening tap, the first half might have been the worst basketball I've seen in 10 years. We just didn't play well. But mostly because of the energy level, we're not running the floor, or anything. There was a little bit of defense early, but then that caved in toward the end."

Pretty much sums things up. One night after their best win of the season, the Lakers put out one of their worst efforts, certainly the weakest since Mike Brown was fired after five games.

Here are five takeaways.

Kobe doin' (way too much) work.

It's not just the 40 minutes of burn on the second night of a back-to-back after playing 39 on the front end and nursing a bad ankle -- though ain't none of that good -- but the amount of effort Bryant expended in an effort to keep the Lakers in it. As it has been throughout the season, he was outstanding. His 38 points included a dazzling display of outside shooting in the third quarter. Bryant started with a circus 3-pointer in the left corner, bailing the Lakers out of a bad possession. Then he stroked another off a pin down, and a third while spinning at the top of the key before firing. Bryant continually attacked off the screen, and as the game wore on got himself to the line.

Overall, those 38 points required only 20 shots from the floor. The Prius in your driveway isn't that efficient.

But all that performance required way too much work. The Lakers can't ask Bryant to play like this for long without a real threat of diminishing returns. Trip after trip, Bryant was made into both the main scoring threat and the primary ball distributor. He performed a similar function Tuesday against Brooklyn, but the level of engagement from his teammates was light years better, making his burden that much smaller. Given how long it might be before Steve Nash returns, they can't ask him to do it until he comes back, either.

Bringing me to ...

The bigs don't have their D'Antoni legs yet.

Dwight Howard had only two points in the first half. He finished the night with four shots and was a non-factor on that side of the ball. Howard was slow up and down the floor, and in the half court his mobility was way down. As a result he wasn't much of a threat as a roll man in high-screen sets. Because Sacramento didn't have to pay him much attention, they could focus it everywhere else, whether on Bryant or Gasol as a ball mover. To some degree, Wednesday night's performance was predictable. This is only Howard's second back-to-back since coming back from surgery. He played big minutes Tuesday and, like his teammates, is adjusting to the special sort of fitness required to play in D'Antoni's system. He'll get there eventually, but Howard was basically stuck in the mud on Wednesday.

At least he had company. Pau Gasol was a little more active but no more effective. He had only three (one a dunk in garbage time) makes in 10 tries. And while there were a few good passes and some nice defensive plays early, Gasol's impact wore away as the game wore on. This is something the Lakers can't afford, particularly while Nash is out and Howard isn't quite there. While the style of the new system might suit his skill set, Gasol has some physical adjustments to make.

"Dwight’s used to running. He’s not in tip-top shape like he will be. Pau is used to kind of laboring up the floor," Bryant said after the game. "Kind of coasting a little. In this offense, you’ve really got to put the motor on the first few steps and get up the court."

Pau needs to get his D'Antoni sea legs under him pretty quickly, or 24 will find himself burning too much energy in December to dominate in May and (hopefully) beyond.

Gasol was too passive offensively, continuing to drift high on the floor even when Howard was on the bench. and even in those moments when he got aggressive, couldn't win. He missed a few chippies, and on one second-half dribble-drive, Gasol lost the ball off his leg. He finished with eight points, meaning he and Howard combined for 15. Not good enough.

This, by the way, is where better depth comes in handy.

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Lakers Late Night Replay - Game 3 vs. Oklahoma City

May, 19, 2012
5/19/12
12:17
AM PT
By the Kamenetzky Brothers
ESPNLosAngeles.com
Archive
The Lakers got off to a great start, but from there Friday's game turned into a slugfest. In the end, though, they came out on top, effectively saving the season and giving them a chance to knot up the series Saturday night.

We broke it all down on Lakers Late Night with special guests Arash Markazi and Dave McMenamin!



Click below for all the postgame moving pictures, from Pau Gasol, Kobe Bryant, Mike Brown, Andrew Bynum, Ramon Sessions, and Steve Blake.

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Lakers Late Night Replay vs. Denver, Game 6

May, 10, 2012
5/10/12
10:39
PM PT
By the Kamenetzky Brothers
ESPNLosAngeles.com
Archive
These closeout games ain't looking so easy, huh?

There will be a Game 7 after the Lakers drop -- and we do mean drop -- Thursday's Game 6 in Denver. Ugliness all around, save a great night from Kobe Bryant, who went for 31 despite battling a nasty stomach bug leaving him dehydrated enough to require two halftime IV's.

As for everything else, here was the agenda for tonight's show...
  • A huge night for Denver's shooters, who were due for a breakout.
  • A wretched night for Pau Gasol, who is now due for a breakout. One field goal, one dime, three rebounds.
  • How did Andrew Bynum respond after the controversial Game 5?
  • Will the Lakers win Game 7? We get into what has to change, the odds those things will happen, and what Metta World Peace brings to the table for Saturday.
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Lakers Late Night Replay, Game 5 vs. Denver (plus postgame video)

May, 8, 2012
5/08/12
11:57
PM PT
By the Kamenetzky Brothers
ESPNLosAngeles.com
Archive
The Nuggets played Game 5 like their season depended on it (can't imagine why) and the Lakers played like they wanted one more view of the Rocky Mountains before next season.

As a result, there will be a Game 6 Thursday night in Denver. Lakers lose, 102-99 Tuesday at Staples Center.

On tonight's edition of Lakers Late Night, we get into a very disappointing loss, starting with ...
  • A befuddling lack of intensity early in the game.
  • Poor perimeter shooting, allowing Denver to collapse consistently on L.A.'s bigs in the paint and help take them out of the game. Which, in turn, seemed to take Andrew Bynum out of the game defensively.
  • A huge fourth quarter for Kobe Bryant, who found himself short on support.
  • The practical implications of losing Tuesday's game. Fair to say the Lakers did themselves no favors.
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Click below for postgame video from Bryant, Mike Brown, Bynum, Gasol, Jordan Hill, and more:

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Rapid Reaction: Lakers 103, Nuggets 97

April, 13, 2012
4/13/12
10:23
PM PT
Kamenetzky By Brian Kamenetzky
ESPNLosAngeles.com
Archive
First things first: The Lakers are not "better" without Kobe Bryant. Go ahead and push that thought from your noggin', and please stop sending emails claiming otherwise.

Still, following Friday's 103-97 win over a solid Denver squad at Staples, L.A.'s third win in four tries with Bryant in monumentally well-tailored street clothes, they've shown a great deal of strength and are piling up the sort of positive results likely serving them well once the postseason rolls around. Guys like Metta World Peace and Matt Barnes were massive. Steve Blake's recent recovery continued, as well. This while L.A.'s bigs, put in positions of leadership, made plays.

Here are three takeaways...

1. Andrew Bynum was a force inside.

George Karl's strategy was clear from the outset: When Bynum touches the ball, send as much powder blue in his direction as possible. It's been the m.o. for opposing coaches in the other three games Kobe missed and in those was effective, as Bynum was held well below 50 percent from the field overall. Friday, Bynum broke through and to his credit did so without getting frustrated by all the extra attention. He patiently tried to work the ball, feeding out of the post when possible, whether to Troy Murphy for a corner jumper or the aforementioned 3-pointer. He finished with three assists, and a few missteps aside did decent work out of the double.

When keeping the ball, Bynum was aggressive, working his full arsenal of drop steps and solid footwork to split through doubles, and other times simply muscling his way through them. The interior strength helped explain 11 trips to the line. Overall, he finished with 30 points on 11-of-19 from the field, his best night offensively since Kobe went out with the shin injury.

Defensively, Bynum showed the same sort of commitment to controlling the paint as he did Wednesday in the win over San Antonio. The results weren't as uniformly spectacular, but that's neither his fault nor the point. He's the guy who can make the Lakers into an elite level defensive squad on a night in, night out basis. His activity inside makes it easier for Pau Gasol (or anyone else, really) to hedge hard on the perimeter in pick and roll coverage, and also tends to be contagious. Bynum's activity adds continuity and confidence to the group, and Friday the Lakers worked hard to close out on shooters and fight over screens.

This when not putting themselves in bad situations in transition. (Speaking of which...)

2. Turnovers were a major problem.

Everyone makes mistakes now and again, but after establishing a very strong offensive rhythm early, the Lakers began turning it over and paid a price. Between the 7:42 and 2:06 marks of the second quarter, the Lakers were credited with four turnovers. In related news, over that stretch Denver ate nine points off L.A.'s lead. 11, really, if you want to include two points the Lakers didn't get because of a basket interference call on Barnes. Coming out of the locker room, the Lakers weren't much better, coughing up the rock four times in the first four minutes of play. That's a lot of lost scoring opportunities, teamed with opportunities for Denver to get out on the run.

Not a good formula.

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Lakers Late Night Replay vs. Memphis, plus postgame video

March, 25, 2012
3/25/12
11:22
PM PT
By the Kamenetzky Brothers
ESPNLosAngeles.com
Archive
The Lakers, save a few minutes in the third quarter, gave a sluggish effort Sunday night, and paid for it. They lose their fourth home game of the season -- and second in a week (give or take) -- 102-96 to the Grizzlies.

Of course, the big story was Mike Brown's decision not to play Kobe Bryant for a key stretch in the fourth. Brown didn't provide much of an explanation to the media following the game, for the most part simply saying he felt like he wanted to make a substitution. Nor did Brown believe it was a decision he needed to justify to Kobe, personally. No surprise Bryant didn't enjoy being on the bench, but refused to question Brown's choice. As you'll see in the videos below, in terms of diffusing the issue, it's hard to picture Bryant coming up with a better response.

That fourth quarter sequence will be Monday's big storyline, but had little if anything to do with why they lost and was just one of the things we kicked around on tonight's edition of Lakers Late Night. Among the other big topics of conversation...
  • Another poor effort defensively, as Memphis shot 51.2 percent from the floor and still managed to get 14 offensive rebounds. That ain't good. Andrew Bynum said after he was a big part of the problem. No disagreement here -- he only had four rebounds and was awful on the pick and roll -- but he had company.
  • The bench, outscored 41-9 by their Memphis counterparts. To be sure, points aren't the best way to measure their performance, but unfortunately when judged by all the better ways, it still amounted to a very poor night. Steve Blake in particular had a very rough go.

In-show video from Brown, Bryant, and Pau Gasol. Click below for more from those three, plus Bynum and Ramon Sessions, who kicked in with a solid-but-quiet 18/5, dulled a little by three turnovers.

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LAL 97, MIN 92 - Postgame video: On Sessions, Fisher, deadline, and more

March, 17, 2012
3/17/12
1:06
AM PT
By the Kamenetzky Brothers
ESPNLosAngeles.com
Archive
The Lakers played well Friday night at Staples, generally maintaining control throughout their 97-92 win over Minnesota. Ramon Sessions made an impressive debut, and the team seemed pleased to have the trade deadline behind them, though clearly disappointed to be going forward without Derek Fisher.

After the game, Bryant talked about the addition of Sessions, and the loss of Fisher:

Bryant on playing without Fish:
Bryant on the skill set Sessions brings, and how he'll benefit from his presence:


Click below for more from Kobe, along with Sessions, Pau Gasol, and Matt Barnes.

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Rapid Reaction: Lakers 97, Timberwolves 92

March, 16, 2012
3/16/12
10:11
PM PT
Kamenetzky By Brian Kamenetzky
ESPNLosAngeles.com
Archive
The Lakers started their post-trade deadline era in the same way they finished the pre, as a dominant squad on their home floor. Led by Kobe Bryant's 28 points and double-doubles from Pau Gasol (17/11) and Andrew Bynum (15/14), the Lakers built a lead against Minnesota and never let the game get away.

They won by five but were in control the whole way. Here are five takeaways ...

1. Ramon Sessions showed why the Lakers wanted him.

Sessions received a nice ovation checking into the game, and even got cheers the first time he put the ball on the floor. Literally. People clapped because Sessions dribbled. So you can imagine how excited they got when he crossed half court, penetrated, and hit a little floater in the lane for his first two points in purple and gold. Later, he put a wicked crossover on Wayne Ellington on the left wing, beating him clean and finishing at the rack, and followed that with a burst in the open floor, beating three Wolves on the break for another two points. Twice Sessions came over screens on the right wing and fed left to Matt Barnes for 3-pointers. In the second half, he penetrated and made a slick pass to Barnes, cutting through the paint for easy points, and later earned free throws against J.J. Barea going coast to coast in transition.

Moral of the story? Sessions gives the Lakers an element they haven't had in a long, long time, namely a point guard who not only has great speed in the open floor and can distribute effectively but forces opposing teams to respect his ability to finish in the lane. He creates easy points, something not easily found for the Lakers this year.

Final line: 7 points, 5 assists (against 3 turnovers), 4 rebounds in 19:26 of playing time. Not bad for a guy who hasn't practiced with the team yet.

2. Generally speaking, L.A.'s ball movement was great.

Eight players finished with an assist, and five had multiple helpers. Overall the Lakers had 21 dimes on their 33 field goals. Sessions and Steve Blake combined for 11 against only three turnovers. Bynum did some effective work passing out of double-teams in the post, as did Gasol (nothing new there). Best of all, they made extra passes without over-passing. While overall the mark from the floor wasn't anything special (41.2 percent), any deficiencies can't be blamed on stagnation.

3. Outside shooting was a plus.

Friday was the rare game for Kobe in which he was far more effective from beyond the arc than inside it. Kobe stuck five of his eight triples, but made only 4 of 12 2-pointers. It helps that most of his hoists from downtown came in rhythm, on clean catch-and-shoot chances, and his proficiency along with a few trips to the line left him with a tidy 28 points on 20 attempts from the floor. Barnes, who had a great game overall with 17 points, 3 boards, and a pair of steals, hit 3 of 4, and as a group the Lakers were a red-hot 45.5 percent (10-of-22). When they shoot that well, the Lakers are a tough team to beat.

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Lakers Late Night Replay vs. New Orleans

March, 14, 2012
3/14/12
8:33
PM PT
By the Kamenetzky Brothers
ESPNLosAngeles.com
Archive
Once again it required extra basketball -- not exactly ideal against a 10-win team -- but the Lakers overcame a slow first half to grind out an important win over New Orleans Wednesday night. Once again, Kobe Bryant and Andrew Bynum led the way, but Metta World Peace came up with a few big plays late as well.

We discuss their work, the incredible endurance of Bryant over the last two nights, the determination shown by the Lakers this week, and of course the trade deadline. What would it mean to add Michael Beasley? Who else might be coming, and who is on his way out?

Plus, vintage 7-Up commercials.

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Rapid Reaction: Lakers 107, Hornets 101 (OT)

March, 14, 2012
3/14/12
8:10
PM PT
Kamenetzky By Brian Kamenetzky
ESPNLosAngeles.com
Archive
It wasn't easy, but the Lakers have their third straight road win, showing the same sort of grit against the Hornets Wednesday night as they did an evening earlier in Memphis.

Again, it required extra hoops, but again the Lakers prevailed. Not a pretty win, but important nonetheless. Here are six takeaways.

1. The Grizzlies didn't beat the Lakers Tuesday, but nearly managed to do it Wednesday.


Chris Graythen/Getty Images
Kobe Bryant drove his way to another big night Wednesday in New Orleans.

I don't mean to excuse their first half performance, but taking the floor less than 24 hours after a double OT marathon against the Grizzlies Tuesday night in Memphis clearly had an impact. The Lakers were sluggish, and had a ton of trouble getting their legs under them against the Hornets. They weren't sharp on either side of the floor, evidenced by 12 turnovers in the first 24 minutes and numerous defensive breakdowns.

To their credit, just as it was Tuesday, the Lakers managed to overcome a huge deficit (again, 17 points) for an important win. Unfortunately, it took a lot more energy to get it than hoped.

2. Kobe Bryant remains extremely good at basketball.

33 points, 11-of-11 from the line, five assists, and a pair of steals. The production was outstanding and Bryant attacked the rack throughout the game, but as good as he was, the one number sticking out like neon was 48:38. That would be his workload in New Orleans. A staggering number particularly in light of the 52 minutes Bryant clocked Tuesday night. Forget the whole "For a guy his age" qualifier. For anyone to be that productive playing 100 minutes of basketball in back-to-back games is truly remarkable.

3. The Lakers answered the bell defensively in the third quarter, then down the stretch and in OT.

Early on, New Orleans was hitting shots like they were playing a video game. Jarrett Jack sliced and diced the Lakers whether in the open floor on the half court, hitting his first eight shots, many coming deep in the paint. Meanwhile, his backup Greivis Vasquez nailed all four of his attempts, meaning Hornets PG's were a combined 12-of-13 for 25 points. As a group, New Orleans shot 61.5 percent from the floor. Clearly something had to change in the second half, and it did. L.A.'s closeouts were far more consistent, and the ball pressure was more consistent. Meanwhile, those seams opening up lanes on the pick and roll weren't as wide open. New Orleans was limited to 41 percent shooting in the third, and only scored 18 points, giving the Lakers a chance down the stretch.

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The Lakers made things interesting Friday night at Staples Center, but came away with the win, 115-107 over the Kings. Kobe Bryant was again mask-a-riffic, piling up 38 points on 13-of-24 from the floor. He was supported well by Andrew Bynum (19/15) and Pau Gasol (15/7/4) and a big 15 point night from Metta World Peace.

Now, we can all look forward to Sunday's game against Miami, which is basically what everyone was doing anyway, except now the clutter of another game in between has been removed.

Friday on Lakers Late Night, we hit on these things, and more, including:
  • A steadily improving offense for the Lakers. Can they continue the trend against the league's better teams?
  • Why Kobe ought to keep the mask. Apparently, the thing brings good fortune.
  • Mike Brown continuing to give his players more freedom offensively, something they appreciate.
  • L.A. vs. Miami. What do the Lakers need to do to win, and what would a victory mean?
Watch live streaming video from espnlosangeles at livestream.com


Click below for postgame video, from Brown, and Bryant...

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Rapid Reaction: Lakers 115, Kings 107

March, 2, 2012
3/02/12
10:11
PM PT
Kamenetzky By Brian Kamenetzky
ESPNLosAngeles.com
Archive
For most of Friday's game against the Sacramento Kings, the Los Angeles Lakers put the engine in cruise control. Not ideal, but understandable for a team facing a horrible road squad in a season where discretion is definitely the better part of valor. Unfortunately, in the fourth quarter the Lakers kept the cruise but lost control, turning what should have been a blowout into a far tighter game.

In the end, Kobe Bryant put down a few buckets late and the defense earned just enough stops to keep the Lakers on the positive side of the ledger. They win 115-107, avoiding an embarrassing misstep heading into Sunday's game against Miami.

Here are five takeaways:

1. The Lakers played the right offense to help their defense.

The Kings are horrible on their end of the floor, but nonetheless the Lakers should be credited with the way they executed offensively. With few exceptions, they pushed everything toward the rim. Bryant set up shop in the post early, making five shots in the first quarter from 10 feet and in. Later, he finished a couple plays off the dribble at the basket, both from the top of the key and the baseline. Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol were both effective in the paint, contributing a host of nifty finishes. In the third, Bynum executed one of the best post moves I've ever seen him make, with a massive step high off the block to change the position of Sacramento's double team, then spinning on his pivot foot back to the basket to score over Chuck Hayes.

A very nifty bit of footwork, for sure.

They did a great job as well using size to create easy baskets over the top, working hard inside to get a seal, then waiting for the lob. If anything, they were a little too lob happy. They didn't make a ton of mistakes, but a decent percentage of the miscues came on misguided lob attempts.

2. The Lakers were also very generous at all the wrong times.

Early on the Lakers were sloppy, fueling Sacramento's transition game (seven of their first 15 points came on the break). That wasn't great, but paled in comparison to how the Lakers started the fourth, turning the ball over six times in the first eight minutes. They didn't just open the door for Sacramento to get back into the game, but walked them through it tossing rose petals in their path, like those fetching valets did for Prince Akeem in "Coming to America."

Fortunately for Los Angeles, the Kings simply aren't good enough to take full advantage, allowing the Lakers to ultimately keep them at arms length. But I can't imagine they'll be happy letting a 20-point lead shrink to five in the fourth quarter. It had a feel all along of a game that the Lakers were content to match the Kings' scoring, knowing they could clamp down and put some space between themselves and the Kings later in the game (see the 27-16 third quarter). But it could have been a game the Lakers won going away, and earned their starters some rest.

Didn't happen.

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Rapid Reaction: Lakers 96, Mavericks 91

February, 22, 2012
2/22/12
9:39
PM PT
Kamenetzky By Brian Kamenetzky
ESPNLosAngeles.com
Archive
Style points do not matter on the road, particularly when the road team enters the game with a 5-11 record in someone else's building. So while the Los Angeles Lakers made things a lot -- and I mean a lot -- closer than they needed to be, not just in the final minute but throughout the game, they still emerged with a massive win Wednesday night in Dallas.

With a first-half capping game in Oklahoma City Thursday night, the Lakers needed a victory to help erase Sunday's completely unnecessary loss in Phoenix. Behind Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum and Derek Fisher (yes, that Derek Fisher), they got it.


Danny Bollinger/NBAE/Getty Images
Pau Gasol had a happy return to Dallas, the team's first visit since last spring's playoff debacle.


Here are six takeaways...

1. Pau Gasol again did damage to the narrative that he has been struggling of late.

I'm not saying Gasol has been outstanding all season, because I don't think that's the case. I have high expectations for the guy, and he hasn't been as consistent or efficient as he's capable. But the way people have talked about him over the past week, you'd think he was Eddy Curry. Wednesday night, he exorcised some playoff demons from last spring, coming out red hot. In one way, shape or form, Gasol accounted for each of L.A.'s first 12 points, hitting four shots and delivering a couple buckets for Bynum.

On the block, he twice used the left hand for buckets on sweet moves, first losing Dirk Nowitzki, then Brendan Haywood. He finished the first half with 16 points. Opportunities were a little tougher to come by in the second half and he was part of L.A.'s parade of missed free throws late, but in the fourth Gasol still came up with a big tip off a Kobe Bryant miss and converted a tough lob from Bryant with a little more than a minute to play.

He finished the night with 24 points on 11-of-18 shooting, plus nine rebounds four assists and three steals. It was a reminder that, while he's certainly got a few things on his mind, the on-court product has been solid, particularly this month.

2. Kobe Bryant struggled.

The legs weren't there, nor was the lift or the handle. And with it, Bryant also seemed a little tired mentally. The shot selection was off, the D spotty, as was the decision-making. Add in a healthy dose of Shawn Marion on the defensive end for Dallas, and it's not hard to see why he finished the third quarter with only nine points on 3-of-11 from the floor, and his three assists undercut by five turnovers. Anger at his work through the first three added a little life in the fourth -- Kobe made two very nice passes in the final minutes -- but the final line was still ugly: 4-of-15 from the floor, only 5-of-9 from the line, plus seven turnovers against four assists. It's the sort of game, particularly early, I had in mind when writing this.

For the month, Bryant's field goal percentage is hovering around 40 percent, and only twice has he been above 50.

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Lakers Late Night Replay vs. Phoenix

February, 19, 2012
2/19/12
8:17
PM PT
Kamenetzky By Brian Kamenetzky
ESPNLosAngeles.com
Archive
That was ugly.

After, things got a little uglier, perhaps, as Kobe Bryant made it clear to management he believes they either need to trade Pau Gasol or make it clear he's not going anywhere. This in between thing? Not working well. Just one of the subjects of tonight's show...

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Rapid Reaction: Lakers 86, Hawks 78

February, 14, 2012
2/14/12
10:01
PM PT
Kamenetzky By Brian Kamenetzky
ESPNLosAngeles.com
Archive

The middle two quarters may have been the ugliest I've ever seen, as the Hawks and Lakers combined -- combined! -- for 59 points. Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol couldn't buy a bucket, and collectively the teams seemed determined to punish fans for shelling out their hard earned money for something as frivilous as basketball tickets.

But in the end, the Lakers got it together, going on a run to finish the third and pulling away down the stretch. Here are five takeaways...

1. Matt Barnes had some hop.

The Lakers are not a swift, dynamic bunch. Barnes is one of the few guys on the roster who makes things happen with movement, and Tuesday he absolutely energized the team (to whatever degree this game had energy) doing the stuff he does best. Slicing through the lane, he converted a nice pass from Bryant into points, then later got up the floor and, like the standout wide receiver he once was, hauled in a long bomb from Steve Blake for an easy deuce. Even on the ball, not generally his strength, Barnes found ways to produce. In the first half, with the shot clock running down, he put the ball on the floor from the top of the key, then wrapped a nice pass to Troy Murphy for a corner 3.

Throughout the game, Barnes was constantly moving towards the rim, running the wing, and aggressively closing on perimeter shooters. He finished with seven points and five rebounds, plus one assist, steal, and block each.

2. So did Metta World Peace.

Maybe he should pop off at the coach more often?

Whatever the cause, MWP was very active tonight, not just defensively, where he spent a lot of time against Joe Johnson with very positive effects, but also on the other end. He closed the first half with a 3-pointer from the right corner that the Hawks, to put it mildly, let him take. (Had they simply left the floor before the horn, World Peace wouldn't have been more open.) The second half brought another triple, and even a thunderous drive through the paint, capped by a dunk. Then he dunked again! One-dunk MWP games are a rarity these days. Double dunk games generally arrive at the arena saddled up on a unicorn.

He finished with 10 points and four rebounds.

World Peace's days as a premier player are gone, but it makes a significant difference for the Lakers when he's not a liability. When he's actually a positive influence, it's even better.

POSTGAME UPDATE: Apparently, World Peace switched from high tops to low tops at halftime. Perhaps that explains his burst in the third and fourth quarters. Less weight keeping him down.

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SPONSORED HEADLINES

TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Nick Young
PTS AST STL MIN
17.9 1.5 0.7 28.3
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsJ. Hill 7.4
AssistsK. Bryant 6.3
StealsK. Bryant 1.2
BlocksW. Johnson 1.0