The Los Angeles Lakers played another road game against another opponent expected to challenge them for the bottom of the Western Conference playoff bracket, and despite keeping the game close for the majority of the contest, they pissed away their chance at victory in the final three minutes by turning the ball over repeatedly and allowing their opponent to go on a 12-0 run that sealed the contest. These are the types of opportunities the Lakers must take advantage of if they intend to keep playing past game 82.
The Los Angeles Lakers played another road game the night after another emotional victory. They hung tough for as long as they could despite not shooting or playing particularly well, but they finally succumbed to fatigue against the younger, fresher team. You never want to lose, but with the incredibly short turnaround (tip off was 1.5 hours earlier tonight than it was last night, meaning the Lakers nearly finished to complete NBA contests in 24 literal hours), this result was hardly unexpected.
Perspective, she's interesting, no?
Chris Kaman - The only player on the entire team to manage +.500 shooting, Cave Mamba scored a team high 16 points, continued to display excellent foot work, both in the post and from mid-range, and was surprisingly mobile in his attempts to guard smaller players alongside Pau Gasol in the starting lineup. If Kaman is not the plodding cement-shoes-wearing tree of a big man we thought he was, then his pairing with Gasol might actually survive enough defensively to make the offensive cohesion worthwhile. Because the offensive cohesion is pretty great.
Jordan Hill - Thankfully, the "Shawne Williams as starter" era seems to have come to a close, and Williams has predictably fallen from the starter to outside the rotation completely, opening up time for the blog's favorite son, one Jordan Hill. Jordan did not disappoint tonight. He only scored four points on four shots (and he missed all six of his FTs, so boo there), but scoring will never be Jordan Hill's top priority. He is a glass man, and his job is to clean, and clean the glass he did. In just 22 minutes, he pulled down a team high 13 rebounds, but the amazing thing is that he did it with five minutes to spare ... 13 boards in his first 17 minutes. That is obscene in all the good ways.
Team Fight - The Lakers had to be tired. They had to be emotionally drained. And as we've seen a couple times this year, they are more than capable of getting destroyed by a fresher team on the road. Very few Lakers played particularly well, and there were multiple points during the game in which the team could have decided to pack it in. But they never did. They kept hanging around, hanging around and staying within striking distance if only they could just get a few more shots to fall. The shots never fell, and when the chips were down, the Lakers couldn't even manage shots very often, but that the Lakers put themselves in an opportunity to have a chance at winning the game after last night's effort is something worth savoring in comparison to other team road performances.
Pau Gasol - The Spaniard is unfortunately becoming a fixture in this section, and considering people were looking to Pau to carry the team in Kobe Bryant's absence, his inability to get going has been a severe disappointment. It may not be entirely his fault, as he is currently struggling with a respiratory infection, and not being able to breathe right is a tough thing to deal with for an athlete. Still, he's 4-22 shooting over the last two games, and he was absolutely destroyed by The Brow (Anthony Davis) in offensive post up situations which are normally Pau's bread and butter. Of Davis' six insane blocks, at least three of them were off of straight-up one on one post defense against Gasol, including two in that deciding stretch at the end of the fourth quarter. I don't think I've ever seen anything like it.
Steve Blake - I'm not entirely sure Blake deserves to be in this section, because he did some good things (8 assists, 13 points on 11 shots and 2-5 from three), but in Steve Nash's absence, Steve Blake was charged with taking care of the ball, and he failed to do so. He had five turnovers on the night, two of which came during that abominable final 3 minute stretch, allowing New Orleans easy buckets with which to pad their suddenly overwhelming lead.
The end game - Just one night after going on an 8-1 run to pull off an unlikely victory, tonight the Lakers' late game execution was the exact opposite. They were the ones allowing a late run, and it was the aforementioned combination of turnovers and Pau Gasol's destruction in the post that did them in. Maybe they just ran out of gas, or maybe they ran out of the luck that had them competing in a game in which nobody played all that well; there are plenty of legitimate reasons to wipe your hands of this without worrying about analysis. But the Lakers turned a 2 point game into a blowout in about 120 seconds, and any time that happens to you, it ain't good.