Brook Lopez's 35 points obviously pop out in the box score, but from Lamar Odom's perspective, the center didn't "control" the game, which is why the Lakers were able to withstand his performance.
With the Clippers on deck for Sunday, Lamar Odom talked about Blake Griffin."Awesome player," gushed the southpaw. "Awesome entertainer. Awesome basketball player." The athletic freak has whipped the basketball community into a frenzy, but is he special enough to change the culture that is the Los Angeles Clippers? LO thinks the potential is there, but others beyond the likely Rookie of the Year will need to step up as well. Bottom line, without the requisite wins, this is mission impossible for Griffin regardless of how well he plays.
It's a familiar scenario for Lamar, drafted in 1999 by the Clippers with these same hopes. Punches weren't pulled about how "off the court" issues messed up his crack at the perennially impossible dream. But, as he noted, everything happens for a reason, and it's hard to criticize Lamar's career path.
The absence of Matt Barnes creates even more pressure for the bench to play at a high level, but according to Shannon Brown, trying to do too much would be a mistake:
"Stay within everything, man," said Brown of maintaining his role. "Don't nothing change."
The evening marked the first game of Sasha Vujacic's career against the Lakers. On his best day as a member of this franchise, Vujacic was often too amped for his own good. Thus, by his own admission, these heightened circumstances created emotional overload. He finished the game strong, but the first three quarters were largely a struggle:
"Coming into the game, I was trying to convince myself this was gonna be just like another game, but it wasn't. I wanted it so bad that I couldn't make a shot, to be honest with you. Once you want something so bad, to beat them, just destroy them in a way, it didn't work. It's a good experience for next time."
(These sentiments reminded me of Kobe Bryant talking about wanting the Game 7 win over Boston so badly, he almost let it slip away. Even while cognizant of this danger, that urge can be tough to fight for athletes.)
The objective to "destroy" an opponent sounds negative, but Sasha's comments shouldn't be interpreted as anything more than a competitive spirit:
"I was drafted by the Lakers. I had seven great years. Everybody in the organization were always great to me. It was like a family. Right now, I've got to start from scratch with the Nets family."
Jordan Farmar admitted being inside Staples prompted nostalgia, even though he's happy in his new setting. His new team isn't very good, but in his opinion, he's grown as a player. For years he desired to run a team like an NBA traditional point guard, and now he's got that chance. Still, the losses are hard to stomach, and he's doing his best as a leader to help the Nets turn the corner.
There was also a funny joke about the scouting report for defending the Lakers: "Just to let Kobe shoot it every time. (Beat. Silence from reporters.) I'm just kidding."