What? You pooped in the refrigerator? And you ate the whole... wheel of cheese? How'd you do that? Heck, I'm not even mad; that's amazing.
Tonight, the Los Angeles Lakers turned the ball over 27 times. Four of the five starters had 4 or 5 turnovers a piece, and Steve Blake managed that many from the bench as well. The Lakers spotted their opponents, the Memphis Grizzlies, 18 extra possessions with which to attempt to win the game. They scored 12 points in the game's final period. That type of ineptitude, that carelessness with the basketball is inexcusable and stupid and it will absolutely lose a team basketball games. But this game was not lost, and for that reason alone, I can't actually be mad at the ridiculousness of tonight's contest. I'm actually kind of impressed.
This might have been the closest blowout in the history of basketball. The Grizzlies were absolute terrible for much of the game, failing to get good shots, failing to make the good and bad shots they took, and looking generally unremarkable in just about every way. The game they played deserved a 20 to 30 point beat down, and the Lakers were primed to play the role of bully ... for 3 out of every 4 possessions. On the fourth possession, the Lakers magically transformed from bully to philanthropist, with each Laker seemingly doing their best to give the ball back to their opponents in their own special way. Kobe Bryant, getting stripped as he takes on too many defenders; Derek Fisher, throwing insanely soft and poorly angled entry passes; Andrew Bynum, unable to get the ball away from a hard double team; Steve Blake, throwing lob passes to Troy freaking Murphy against an athletic team; Matt Barnes, being Matt Barnes. Everyone got in on the act, everyone brought their own special brand of suck to the table.
But when they weren't busy showing off their weaknesses, the Los Angeles Lakers played one hell of a basketball game.
Chief among those who's merits outnumbered his faults, Kobe Bryant once again led the way with a complete performance. 26 points on 11-22 shooting, and nine assists, and outside of the turnovers, Kobe played a near perfect game. Working primarily from the high post, Kobe struck the perfect balance between playmaker and shot-taker, and he had the Memphis defenders off balance all night long. Things got away from him a bit in the fourth, as the team once again fell into a pattern of watching Kobe work, and Kobe was all too ready to hold on to the reins a little too strongly, but one thing he did do well in the fourth quarter (and throughout the game really) was close out on his man, unless that man was Tony Allen. Nobody should ever close out on Tony Allen.
Oh, and Kobe also did this ...
Pau Gasol was a quiet beast. He only took 8 shots (which is a problem ... Pau Gasol should not be taking less shots than Matt Barnes, Steve Blake, or anyone else not named Kobe Bryant or Andrew Bynum), but he connected on 5 of the 8, and ended up with 13 points. But, Gasol cleaned up on the glass in a major way, picking up 15 boards, and he was very active defensively. So active, in fact, that I'd like to take the time to recognize just how good Pau has been defensively this season. Gasol will never be the intimidator type that Andrew Bynum is, but Gasol has been excellent in just about all aspects of defense for most of the young season, none more visible than how well he is handling pick and roll defense. Except for a couple of games in which he was clearly a little tired, Gasol has been reading plays a beat faster than any other front court defender, allowing him to be there with a solid hedge just about every single time.
And, not to be outdone, he also dropped four assists, including this bad boy (it's a highlights kind of night)
Andrew Bynum played similarly large, going for 15 points and 15 boards. He wasn't too strong from the field (5-14), but he did manage to do something he's often struggled with this season, making a large majority of his free throws (5-7). Matt Barnes built off the momentum of his breakout performance on Friday, scoring 15 points, including 2-3 from three point range, and pulling in 10 boards. Barnes provides the type of explosive energy that Metta World Peace no longer possesses, and the type of defensive experience that Devin Ebanks hasn't had time to learn, and he has cemented his place as the Lakers starter at small forward. He's a streaky player, so you can't depend on him giving the Lakers this kind of performance every night, but hell, it's just nice to see the good side of his streakiness for once.
Speaking of streaky, Steve Blake had his good game for the week. 5-8 from the field, 3-6 from downtown, Blake's shooting was a huge asset tonight. He has hardly been consistent this season, but Blake is clearly a new man in terms of his willingness to take shots, even contested ones. If nothing else, it's good to see him have the confidence to push through some bad nights, because he's had quite a few bad nights this season, but he has played with a consistent aggression. As it turns out, that's pretty important because the other point guard employed by the Lakers, well, he's just not very good at basketball. Derek Fisher had one of those games that makes you wonder how he still gets minutes in this league, much less starts. He scored 0 points on 3 shots, which, whatever, him shooting so few shots is actually worthy of praise. But he had 5 turnovers, routinely throwing terrible entry passes, and provided very little in the way of redeeming activity on the night. Speaking of which, it's time for me to rant ...
Blake .... Fisher ... STOP WITH THE FUCKING LOB PASSES ALREADY. YOU DON'T NEED TO PROVE YOURSELVES JUST BECAUSE CHRIS PAUL WAS ALMOST A LAKER AND IS NOW A CLIPPER AND THEY ARE LOB CITY AND YOU CAN LOB TOO ... BECAUSE YOU AREN'T CHRIS PAUL, YOU CAN'T THROW VERY GOOD LOB PASSES AND ... HERE'S THE IMPORTANT PART ... YOU DON'T HAVE THE FUCKING PERSONNEL TO TRY TO LOB AGAINST ANYBODY, MUCH LESS AN EXTREMELY ATHLETIC TEAM LIKE THE MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES. IF YOU SEE DREW SPIN OFF HIS MAN, FINE, THROW IT UP THERE. IF YOU SEE PAU GASOL ALL ALONE, AND I MEAN NO-ONE WITHIN 10 FEET OF HIM, SURE GIVE IT A SHOT. BUT IF YOU THROW ONE MORE FUCKING 50 FOOT LOB TO MATT BARNES OR TROY MURPHY WHEN THEIR DEFENDER IS RIGHT FUCKING NEXT TO THEM, I WILL RESEARCH THE WAYS OF VOODOO JUST SO THAT I CAN FIND SOME OF THOSE NEEDLES THEY STICK IN THE LITTLE DOLLS, AND SHOVE ONE IN YOUR EYE.
OK, I guess I was just a little mad ...