Kobe Bryant’s return from a 7-game hiatus turns into a second straight beat down by the San Antonio Spurs 121-97.
Is this cause for concern, or was this merely a short term memory type of game, where you don’t put that much into a contest at the end of an extremely compact season?
The good from last night, was simply that The Mamba was able to get back out on the court, get back into the swing of things and actually have an efficient shooting night. The bad, was AB’s (Andrew Bynum) lack of presence on the board, and the Lakers defense, which has uncharacteristically given up over a 100-plus points to the Spurs two games in the row.
Now obviously, the Spurs are playing at a high level right now, and seem to be legit (even though they are still susceptible to an early playoff exit), but that is no excuse for the Lakers to be going through the motions on defense in their most recent games. It could just be me, but since acquiring Ramon Sessions, the Lakers tend to have more of a lull on defense now that they have an added punch on the offensive end. They need to restore the balance on both ends, as they head into the playoffs ASAP!
Playing without the The Black Mamba has actually brought about a new confidence within the roles players for the Lakers, more specifically Metta World Peace and Matt Barnes. Over Bryant’s absence, Metta has had a couple of “Ron Artest” flashback games that remind you of why the Lakers wanted his services in the first place.
Barnes has become the edgy role player, that provides a gritty defensive spark, and timely shooting, similar to the beginning of last year before he went down with an injury mid-way through that season. These two individuals will be key when it comes to intimidating opponents, and providing timely buckets in the playoffs.
The Lakers have two games left to secure the 3rd seed, and the Pacific Division title over the Los Angeles Clippers. Standing in the way is a hungry Oklahoma City Thunder team (that is trying to secure the #1 seed in the Western Conference), and an always pesky Sacramento ball club. Can the Lakers finally win a game against the Thunder, as Derrick Fisher makes his second and possible last return to the Staples Center, and will they take care of the Kings? Will they have enough in the tank?
Guess we’ll find out by the end of next Thursday night……won’t we.
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Written by Arthur Kai