Kobe put on a second-half show to led the Lakers to a win tonight
No Dwight Howard, no Metta World Peace, no problem. After a third-quarter surge by the home-team Nets to take back the lead, the Lakers--led by a heating-up Kobe Bryant--edged Brooklyn, their 10th-straight win over the Nets. Sweeping the season series, LA led by nine points at half before Brooklyn uncharacteristically played well after the first half. Kobe was cold early on but by the game's conclusion, showed why he is one of the NBA's best players of all-time through his trademark straight-up jumpers and impossible paint drives.
Both teams started this evening's preceding ice-cold from the field, with Brook Lopez and Kobe starting with ugly 2-6 shooting marks each. However, D-Will and Joe Johnson hit some shots later in the quarter that helped bring the Nets to hold a six-point lead after 12 minutes, a lead they would quickly lose in the troublesome second quarter, a quarter which was made so bad by the underperforming Brooklyn bench that only chipped in with 14 points on dismal 6-23 shooting. The only saving grace was an end-of-quarter Mirza Teletovic three (Mirza's only made and attempted shot of the night) that cut a 12-point Laker advantage to nine.
P.J. Carlesimo must have made some halftime speech tonight as the Nets--who as I have repeated many times, are awful in the third quarter normally--came out of the intermission with energy and purpose, slowly narrowing the Laker lead until it became a Brooklyn lead. They went back to the simple sets--not as many isos--that always seem to work when offense is needed, and they did their job. The Nets also made it a point to pound the ball into Brook a lot in the paint, who was able to overwhelm his opposite number--Pau Gasol--all night.
Down three heading into the fourth, Brooklyn had to put on yet another valiant comeback to take a one-point advantage on a Deron lay-in around the midpoint of the quarter. Basket exchanging occurred for the next few minutes, culminating in an 80-80 tie with 2:45 left in the game. Then, the momentum-changing bucket that both teams were waiting for was made when Kobe dunked/posterized/embarrassed both Gerald Wallace and Kris Humphries with a monster driving jam that gave LA a two-point edge and swung the proverbial pendulum in the favor of the team from the Left Coast. Another Kobe shot and an Earl Clark jumper iced the game, as another potentially-good win for the Nets slipped from their grasp in a flash.
Some other observations I had from the game: Brook Lopez deserves the game ball, and it's not really close. He played like a true All-Star tonight on a national stage, even in the loss. Scoring 30 on and grabbing 11 rebounds against Pau Gasol, Brook has shown a stunning development in his game, improving his rebounding and defensive intensity while simultaneously scoring like a madman when on other star centers. Too bad he was barely helped by his teammates.....Not much from Gerald and Joe, who combined for 20 points on 7-25 shooting. Gerald has been cold of late and I'm not worried about the bad game from Joe, he's been stroking it from the perimeter recently. Also, Joe didn't drive to the hole for his awesome floater as much as I would like.....11 rebounds from Reggie, but those came with some horrendous decision-making from the big guy, noted on a second half fastbreak on which he selfishly held onto the ball when he had numbers, missing a layup as a result.....The bench was dreadful. I mentioned the stats above, but it goes deeper than the shooting. No one, other than Mirza I guess, could play much of any defense at all and--to-further the poor play--couldn't hit the broad side of a barn with their shots......D-Will's shooting numbers (5-13 from field) and turnover count (five) don't look great, but considering how little help he had other than Brook, he wasn't that bad. Helped out on the glass, hit a few jumpers, and made some awful passes as usual. Uneven all-around though.
The Nets have a quick turnaround and face the Pistons in Detroit tomorrow, looking for a win.