LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 16: Ramon Sessions #7 of the Los Angeles Lakers rives against the Minnesota Timberwolves at Staples Center on March 16, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
The Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Minnesota Timberwolves by the final score of 97-92 in a lazy affair in which neither team played at a high level. But none of that matters. All you need to know about this game, and the excitement generated by it throughout Lakers Nation can be summed up in one play. This play. That's newly acquired point guard Ramon Sessions receiving an outlet pass as he glided past half court. There were four Wolves players running back on defense when Sessions decided to kick in the afterburners, and just like that, we got our first taste of what it's like to have a legitimate point guard. Honestly, when was the last time you saw anything move that fast in that flashy gold uniform?
On that play, and the energetic exploits of Sessions and Matt Barnes, the Lakers were able to build up a big first half lead that the Wolves were only able to slowly chip away at. The 2nd half was a bore, with the Wolves never putting together enough momentum to threaten, and the Lakers lacking the energy to go for the finishing blow, but the damage had already been done. We will never forget the departed Derek Fisher's contributions, but you can have no doubt that the Lakers are a better basketball team today than they were 48 hours ago.
Consider this: The Lakers won this game with relative comfort, despite the fact that none of their stars were spectacular. In fact, save Kobe Bryant's exceptional night from the outside (hitting 5-6 three pointers) driving an efficient scoring night (28 points on 20 shots) for The Mamba, none of the stars were really even that good. Bynum and Gasol both pulled down double-doubles, but neither shot above 50% from the floor. Gasol looked especially active and engaged early on, looking read to fill the narrative I believe in, that the passing trade deadline is likely to turn him into a much improved player, but he tired in the 2nd half (and you can't blame him, he's played big minutes in the last 72 hours). Bynum, especially, struggled with his touch on the night. And the Lakers still won. Easily.
It's just one game. Matt Barnes won't always (read, ever again) shoot lights out like he did tonight. The Lakers won't shoot 45% from three point range very often. As has been mentioned before, the Wolves without Ricky Rubio aren't the same threatening team that they have been all season. But, in his first game as a Los Angeles Laker, Ramon Sessions showed everybody what he brings to the table without trying to bring too much, and he keyed the Lakers' best play of the evening while playing in a game he was about as prepared for as you are for some run at the local Y! We'll have to find out eventually if the Lakers can fill the void in leadership left by yesterday's departures. But there can be no doubt a different, pre-existing, void in skill set is now gone.