Losing Friday night to the Kings would have been relatively apocalyptic.
Beating them, however badly doesn't necessarily reveal much. "You don't know what kind of mental situation they're in as a team. how they're playing. The energy level they're playing at obviously not at what we were playing against in the last three or four games," Phil Jackson said after the game. "It's hard to make a judgment as to have we broken free from the bonds that have held us? Or are we still kind of mired in what we're doing, and we just got kind of a weak sister in this particular time of the year."
Obviously winning beats the alternative and it's hard to argue the Lakers played poorly, but at the same time, the Kings looked awful. The kind of awful that gets people fired, really. As such, the Lakers will clearly get a more accurate measure whether or not they're fixing that which ailed them during the four game losing streak during next week's back-to-back against Washington and the Clippers, followed by the first big road trip of the year.
In the meantime, the more pressing issue is Pau Gasol, and the state of his left hamstring. There was some question regarding Gasol's availability Friday, but he played and played well. 16 points on six of eight shooting, five rebounds, five assists, and three blocks in a hair under 27 minutes (his most important stat, actually). After, Gasol said he felt good. "It was a little tight, but I managed it well. During the game, I didn't push it too hard, and was able to play through it."
Given how the Lakers cruised, the most tension Gasol felt was when, after Derrick Caracter picked up his fifth foul with about four minutes to play, Jackson looked down the bench and told Pau to be ready, in case the rook fouled out. Jackson was kidding. At least in theory, he was kidding. "I would hope [he was joking], but you never know. I didn't like my chances," Gasol said with a smile. "I told him Ron [Artest] was ready."
(More video below the jump, from Phil Jackson and Shannon Brown.)
While admittedly it's tough to get a feel for much of anything off tonight's game, Jackson was pleased at the effort, particularly with ball movement, penetration, and on the defensive end.
More Jackson, talking about the defense. You know you're doing something right when the opposition can't generate a 20 point quarter until the fourth. Plus how the Lakers dominated the paint.
More still from P.J., this time talking about the solid run for Caracter (10 points, four boards, two blocks, 21 minutes), and a rough night for Luke Walton (whom he takes the time to needle at the end):
For Shannon Brown, just getting the win was the most important thing, but not playing to the level of the competition was satisfying as well.