Kobe, Artest Power Lakers Past Eastern Conference Scrubs

How about a round of applause for Mr. Ron Artest? The man's been taking fire lately - for getting beaten up by LeBron James, for some listless offense, for those cheap-ass shoes he wears. But tonight? He crushed it. In the Lakers' 99-91 disposal of the 76ers, Artest hit big shots early and late and all night long suffocated Andre Iguodala. It was a tasty performance.

Kobe Bryant got it done too, if you must know. In the first half his targeting system was off as missed six of seven FGAs, and at the beginning of the third quarter he kind of rolled his left ankle when Elton Brand flew into it while diving for the ball. Once the injury scare passed - Kobe didn't leave the court, much less visit the locker room - he went into heat-seeking mode. In about a 14-minute stretch covering the third period and start of the fourth, he scored 18 points to maintain the Lakers' lead. He also helped snuff out a third-quarter Sixers rally by checking Allen Iverson, who for a few minutes showed us some retro shot-making virtuosity.

Offensively the Lakers were just OK tonight. Neither Pau Gasol nor Andrew Bynum was terribly efficient, and nobody but Ron could hit a three. (Literally nobody. Except for Ron, who made three of five attempts, the Lakers missed all 10 of their long balls.) As has often been the case lately, the Lakers did take good care of the rock. And as has rarely been the case, they got to the line a bunch and used free throws to overcome an iffy night from the field. They didn't blow up for any rocking 15-point runs, but none are needed to beat a team like the Sixers.

Philly just doesn't have enough ways to score. Except when Iverson caught fire in the third, they strained to generate even a point per possession. Brand, though he took a lot of shots, was kept in check by Pau's length, and Iggy was taken almost completely out of the game by Artest. The Sixers' leading scorer was held to eight points on 46% True Shooting and committed five turnovers. As a team the Sixers were woefully TO-prone.

The Laker bench put in a solid night of work, with Phil Jackson sticking to an eight-man rotayshe. Shannon Brown charged up the Laker offense in the second quarter. Lamar Odom was active for all 31 minutes he was on the court. With 13 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals and 3 blocks, Lamar was a quiet but vigorous* presence.

And by the way? We need to mothball the old "Philly fans hate Kobe!" storyline. At the outset of tonight's telecast, Joel Meyers told us that Kobe would get booed "every time he touches the ball." Best I could tell, he in fact got booed not even once. After the game Kobe said he got a kick out of hearing the locals give him an "M-V-P" chant.

The Lake Show now stands at 36-11, still half a game and a tiebreaker behind Cleveland. Next up on Sunday: the Celtics in Boston. Yum.

 

Poss.

TO%

FTA/
FGA

FT%

3FGA/FGA

2PT%

3PT%

EFG

TS%

OReb Rate

DReb Rate

PPP

Lakers

92

11

0.34

82

0.19

52

20

48

54

26

66

1.08

76ers

92

22

0.25

75

0.14

46

36

48

51

34

74

0.99

* - The following was more vigorous than quiet.


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