Whole new half, brand new ball game for the the Los Angeles Lakers, as they take down the Atlanta Hawks at the Staples Center 104-80.
Forget the three game losing streak going into the all-star break, especially the loss to the lowly Cleveland Cavaliers. Trade talk rumors have been put to rest for now, with Carmelo Anthony being traded to the New York Knicks. And now the Lakers can focus on the second half of the season, and use it as a tune-up for the playoffs.
The Black Mamba & Co. had an all-around effort on offense and defense. The Mamba had 20 points and 5 assists, while the Spaniard chipped in with a double-double of 14 points and 10 rebounds. Chris Brown’s older brother, Shannon, led the way off the pine with 15 points . Although the Lakers spread the wealth on offense, it was their stifling defense that held Hawks’ leading scorer Joe Jonson to 14 points, as the Lakers held the Hawks to 37% shooting from the field.
The Mamba, fresh off his all-star MVP performance in his backyard, in which he tallied 37 points and racked up 14 rebounds, clearly sent a message to the rest of the league that he hasn’t lost anything, and that the championship still runs through Los Angeles. Bryant tied Bob Pettit for the most NBA All-Star MVP awards with four.
He also sent a subliminal message to his teammates, that he is ready to play with a true sense of purpose as the playoffs draw near. Pau Gasol also had a solid showing in the all-star game scoring 17 points and grabbing seven rebounds. The Lakeshow will go as far as these two will be able to take them, and when their own their game, there is no beating the Lakers.
The Lakeshow have a number of interesting games left in the week, starting with the Portland Trailblazers on Wednesday night. Notoriously known for getting man handled at the Rose Garden, look for the Lakers to bring a different type of effort in this particular match-up. Friday’s game against the Los Angeles Clippers will be the “Battle of L.A.” part III, this game could literally go either way, depending on what Lakers squad shows up.
They cap off the week with a road game Sunday afternoon in Oklahoma City against the Thunder, a team full of talented energized youth. This week will set the tone for the second half of the season for the Lakeshow. Lets see if they can finally turn that switch on, and keep it on.
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Written by Arthur Kai