The Los Angeles Lakers get a rare win on Christmas Day by defeating the New York Knicks 100-94.
With the victory, the Lakers got an unlikely “W” on Christmas for the first time in five years, extended their winning streak to five games, and finally are back to playing .500 basketball (14-14).
It was indeed a Merry Christmas for everyone associated with Laker Nation yesterday afternoon.
With head coach Mike D’Antoni’s maestro, Steve Nash, back running the show for the Lakers, this was the type of performance everyone in Lakerland expected to be witnesses to on a regular bases. But with injuries to key players, none of that type play had manifested before yesterday’s nationally televised game on ABC.
With his second straight game back from injury, Nash once again played an intricate role in deciding the outcome of Tuesday’s Christmas showdown with the Knicks. He finished the game with 16 points, 11 assists and 6 rebounds, and made pivotal baskets and assists late in the game that all but sealed the win for the Lakers.
Kobe was indeed in Black Mamba mode for Christmas, scoring 34 points, and turning back the clock with some vintage Mambaesque athleticism on a number of acrobatic shots. Dwight Howard finished the game with 14 points, 12 rebounds, and 2 blocks, and was pretty much the defensive difference maker the Lakers knew he would become, anchoring several defensive series for the Lakers late in the 4th quarter, that eventually led to a Laker win.
Metta World Peace had another big performance off the bench scoring 20 points, to go along with 7 rebounds. World Peace had a “Ron Artest” flashback moment in the second quarter, dropping 16 points in the period, with consistent outside shooting, and tough drives to the basket. If he can play at this level with consistency, the Lakers will definitely become a big problem for teams come the playoffs.
Last but not least, is Pau Gasol, who had the defining moment of yesterday matchup . With 14 seconds left, Gasol drove to the hole, and finished with an emphatic two-handed dunk that extended the Lakers lead to 99-94, and pretty much sealed the victory for the Lakers. Gasol finished with 13 points, 8 rebounds, and 6 assists.
Obviously, D’Antoni seems to be doing a better job of finally finding the pulse of this team. I’m glad he realized he was screwing up the usage of Gasol, especially in the fourth quarter, and that there heart to heart talk last week (extremely way overdue) gave him a better perspective of who Gasol was, and how he needs to be used.
The Lakers are finally heading into the right direction, and it will be up to D’Antoni to make more adjustments as the season progresses. D’Antoni must be able to utilize all of the talent on this roster to the best of his ability, which means he needs to find a way to instill some confidence in Antawn Jamison and include him in the rotation. I know Jamison was slumping before he racked up his current string of DNP’s, but there’s no reason to have a player on your bench that can score 30-plus points any given night out of the rotation. I digress for now, because his current rotation is producing wins, but ultimately he has to figure out a way to make it work, or eventually trade Jamison for some young horses (that are currently not on the market).
The Lakeshow will be playing the second game of a back-back against the Denver Nuggets in Denver tonight. And after tonight’s contest, they play four straight home games (one of them being a road game against the Los Angeles Clippers). It will be interesting to see if the Lakers can keep up their winning ways, and stay above .500 for good.
With yesterday’s victory against the Knicks being considered a turning point in the Lakers season by Laker Nation and some pundits, one can only hope that the real Lakeshow squad emerges from yesterday’s Christmas win as the favorites they were projected to be in 2013.
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Written by Arthur Kai