The Challenges of the Lakers
Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard, center, goes up for a shot as Orlando Magic forward Glen Davis, left, and guard J.J. Redick
By G. George IVN Sports Writer
Los Angeles, CA– The Lakers started off last Tuesday with a disappointing loss against the visiting Indiana Pacers – as George Hill scored the winning basket for the victory 79-77. However, on Friday, the Lakers did an incredible job against the Denver Nuggets as they rebounded with a breakout victory of 122-103. Therefore, the team was riding a high after crushing the Nuggets with the up-tempo “D’Antoni offense”. It was the light of a new day with the emergence of Antawn Jamison scoring 33 points and Jodie Meeks 21. Dwight Howard had a 28/20 performance as the Lakers exploded to tie a season-high of 122 points. The Nuggets were led by Gallinari with 19, Iguodala 14, Hamilton 13, and Miller/McGee 10.
Therefore, you would think that this momentum win would carry over to the game against the Orlando Magic on Sunday (Dwight’s former team). However, newly appointed head coach, Jacque Vaughn had them ready for Dwight and the Lakers in spite of their record of 5-10. I thought that the Lakers would blowout the Magic, but it wasn’t so. The Lakers have become an unpredictable team that is very Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde typecast. Which team will show up on that night? “We’re up and down,” said Kobe after losing to the Magic 113-103.
It appeared that the Lakers were playing well enough to eke out a win against the Magic, however, the Magic found their offensive Magic scoring 40 points in the final quarter as they stunned the Lakers. “They busted us open with their jumpers,” said Kobe. They were led by Aaron Afflalo 30, Glenn Davis 23/12 rebounds, Jameer Nelson 19/13 assist, Nikola Vicevic 17/12 rebounds, and JJ Redick 14.
Coach Vaughn utilized the “Hack-a-Dwight” to his advantage as Dwight was 9-for-21 on free throws. Kobe has a good outlook on Howard’s free throw shooting saying, “He should look at it as an opportunity because once he conquers the ability to make free throws, the sky is the absolute limit for him. So he should really approach it as an opportunity.”
Kobe scored 34 and Howard added 21/15 rebounds as the Lakers top performers. “The pressure is on me and Dwight to really perform well,” said Kobe. “We’ll pick up for everybody else’s mistakes – whatever that may be – and he and I have to perform at a really, really high level night in and night out.”
The Lakers went from triumph to trouble with that loss to the Magic. It would have been acceptable or understandable if it was a top-notch team like: Miami, Memphis, or Oklahoma etc.
The turnaround from the mountain to the valley was team shaking and creating a fire storm by Kobe’s comment when he was asked how to keep Gasol connected…. “Put your big-boy pants on. Come on, just adjust, and just adjust,” he said. In addition to that Kobe said, “It’s frustrating, but at the same time, it’s an opportunity. Pau has to make some adjustments, obviously, to his game… Pau is talented enough and good enough to be able to do that.” Hopefully Pau can get pass the tendentious with his knees and return to his superstar status.
The Lakers are on the road starting Tuesday against the Rockets, the Hornets on Wednesday, and Thunder on Friday. They will return to the Staples Center on Sunday to face Utah Jazz. The road will be a good challenge for them, but they should win 2-of-3.