They shot 51% for the game. They made 13 three-pointers. They only turned the ball over 11 times. Yet, it was the same three problems for the Warriors in their 115-110 loss to the Lakers on Wednesday night. Rebounding, Free Throws and Kobe.
The Lakers are the World Champs the past two years because of two things. They work harder than anyone, and Kobe Bryant. And, in fact, it’s Bryant who makes sure that his teammates work as hard as they do. Nobody, though, works harder than Kobe, and in crunch time, that work usually pays off.
It did again on Wednesday. The Warriors led by eight at the break and by six heading into the 4th quarter. But the champs got a spark from Lamar Odom, which ignited Kobe, and blew up Golden State. Odom scored 10 straight points early in the final quarter, and then watched as Kobe took over scoring 17 of his 39 points in the final six minutes.
Monta Ellis led the Warriors with 38 points of his own despite having missed the past two practices because of the flu. He didn’t look too sick while on the floor connecting on 15 of his 26 shots including 4 of 7 from 3-point range. For a while, he was matching Kobe shot-for-shot. But when Kobe gets on that kind of roll, his “for a while” usually outlasts anyone else’s.
And while beating Kobe isn’t tough enough of a task, it’s almost impossible when the other teams out rebounds you 47-27, and shoots 29 free throws to your 11. The Lakers are just bigger, stronger and tougher then the Warriors and most everyone else in the NBA. That’s why they get fitted for rings, and the Warriors get fitted for suits.
Dorell Wright once again did all he could have been asked to do and has got to get some consideration for most improved player in the NBA. Wright poured in 27 points in playing all 48 minutes and is now averaging 17 points per game and 6 boards while becoming a reliable shooter from distance, including 5 more from downtown against Los Angeles last night.
Still, with Ellis’ All-Star performance in the first half of the season, and Wright’s improved play, the Warriors are still looking to get some kind of consistent inside play from someone other than David Lee. And until that happens, it doesn’t matter how well they shoot, or how little they turn the ball over. As Bobby Knight once said, “You can’t teach size.”
About the Author
Written by Scott Johnston
Scott Johnston is a longtime Sports TV Producer/Writer from Los Angeles who now lives just outside of Boston. After a long career at KCAL-TV in L.A., where Scott covered such things as Kirk Gibson’s HR, Hank Gathers death, and Magic Johnson’s retirement, NBA ll-Star Game MVP performance and subsequent return to the NBA. His favorite team is the Oakland A’s and whomever happens to be playing the Yankees, USC or the Cowboys on that particular day. Scott left his staff position at KCAL and formed his own small production company in 1996 while continuing to freelance there and at other stations, including WTTG in DC for two years. His company, ProTVSports, started out covering one team during Spring Training in 1997 but now covers six of the Cactus League teams. He also covers tennis and golf events during the year and has had the privilege of covering 5 NBA Finals, including two of the last three. Scott loves all sports, but considers baseball to be his favorite. He loves politcs, reading, movies and his wife and two daughters—not in that order!