Based on early season results, it's not too difficult to beat the Los Angeles Lakers. But good luck doing it twice. The Golden State Warriors destroyed the Lakers in LA's second game of the season, but absent Steph Curry, and in the 2nd half, Andre Iguodala as well, the Warriors found things much more difficult in their return trip to LA, falling to the Lakers by the final score of 102-95. LA secured the victory behind a vintage Pau Gasol performance and the swaggiest of performances from Nick Young and Jordan Farmar off the bench. The Lakers scored 15 straight points at the end of the 3rd and into the 4th quarter, turning a tie ball game into a double digit lead that would never really be challenged the rest of the way.
Gasol is the main story of the night, with easily his best offensive game of the season. With each point scored going to help provide charity relief to the Philippines, Gasol channeled his inner Kobe and knocked down all manner of shots. 20 foot jumpers? Swish. Sweeping hook shots? Nothing but net. 15 foot fade aways? Got it. By the end of the game, he was dancing near the three point line, dribbling between his legs repeatedly. If the game had gone on any longer, you would have found Gasol chewing on his jersey and jutting out his jaw. His team high 24 points on 11-19 shooting set the tone, and provided the bulk of the starters' scoring punch.
Then again, the Lakers don't really need scoring punch from the starters all the time these days. The bench is more than capable of carrying their weight in putting points on the board, and tonight was no different. Jordan Farmar was excellent, providing 14 points on 6-9 shooting (including some very difficult finishes in traffic) and 8 assists with zero turnovers in 18 minutes. Whatever funk Farmar was in the past couple weeks seems to be in the rear-view mirror. But Farmar wasn't even the best bench player on the night, with Nick Young coming through with the swaggiest of evenings. Young had 21 points on 15 shots, including at least three And-1 finishes in traffic, and played surprisingly effective defense as well. Behind him and Farmar, the Lakers bench proved way too much for their Golden State counterparts.
So the Lakers, with one of the hardest schedules in the league thus far and missing Kobe Bryant and a healthy Steve Nash, now move to within a game of .500, and they continue to win games with entertaining flare and a good bit of hard work. Not too shabby for a team with the lowest of expectations. Not too shabby at all.