The Lakers saw their Tuesday night begin with an innovative ring ceremony, followed by a hard fought opening night win against the Houston Rockets 112-110.
Led by Kobe Bryant’s 27 point effort and Pau Gasol’s 29 points and 11 rebounds, the Lakers were able to make up for a slow start as they began their title defense with a L.A. type of dramatic flare. Adding to the dramatics of the season opener was the steady play of Lamar Odom 14 points and 10 rebounds (a walking double), and key production off the bench behind Shannon Brown and new acquisition point guard Steve Blake, who hit the go ahead game winning three. After tonight’s thrilling victory, “3 Peat: The Title Defense” has officially begun.
“It’s always fun when this night comes and there’s a chance to enjoy it,” said Bryant, a five-time champion along with Derek Fisher. “And tonight it was a little more special because we all introduced each other. It’s special. We know the bond that we share, and for [Fisher] to bring me out there, that was great.”
What is it about the emotional high of a ring ceremony, that takes a minute to get off of? Fortunately for Laker Fans, the euphoria only lasted for a half thanks to the strong bench play of Brown and Blake to end the 3rd and throughout the 4th quarter. Brown scored 16 points, 14 of those in a 6 min span, raining threes and of course his usually athletic finishes at the rim. Blake played the role of the veteran marksman, scored 10 points, and hit three 3-pointers none bigger than the game winning shot. “It feels great to contribute in your first game, but it’s even better to win in your first game,” Blake said.
The emotional ring ceremony stole the show in the first half because the Lakers seemed uninterested in taking care of a pesky Rockets team that looks new and improved, with the reemergence of Yao Ming, who scored 9 points and had 11 rebounds in 24 minutes of action in his first game back since the 2009 payoffs. The Rockets, led by Coach Rick Adelman were two deep at every position and were eying the opportunity to spoil opening night for the defending champs. Their back court of Aaron Brooks who scored 24 points and had 9 assists and Kelvin Martin who led the team in scoring with 26 points gave the Lakers all hey could handle. Rockets’ power forward Luis Scola had a big night as well scoring 18 points and snagging down 16 rebounds. They were right there to the end but, the Champs had the inner resolve to get it done.
For the Mamba, Pau, LO & company the onward march to a 3-peat, starts off with a solid team effort. The type of effort that lets you know how much this squad has grown over the past three years and our ready to take on the challenge that few have been able to accomplish. With a bench deep enough to cover for a 85 percent Kobe Bryant and an injured Andrew Bynum, this season has a host of questions that will get answered with a flare that only The Lakeshow can provide. It might come off as scripted, but really its just the L.A. way.
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Written by Arthur Kai