This team needs a new scriptwriter. For the third straight game, the Los Angeles Lakers fell into a very familiar formula: Play well for 2 quarters. Build big lead. Collapse. Hold on for dear life. For the second straight game, at least the formula was successful. There is no disastrous result today, nothing that ruins the Lakers season all over again. In the final analysis of this season, the win will be all that matters, no matter how bad the Lakers looked in getting it, and how lucky they were to achieve it.
Lucky seems the most apt description of the Lakers today, because they were not punished for their shocking free throw display at game's end. Up by one point, the Los Angeles Lakers twice came up with big defensive stops in the final minute, followed by an immediate foul on whoever rebounded the ball. When Earl Clark missed two free throws, it was surprising and deflating. When Steve Nash, one of the greatest shooters in the history of professional basketball, missed two free throws, it was downright apocalyptic. I'm so very thankful the Lakers won this game, and not just because of the assistance it provides to the Lakers' anemic playoff hopes. Losing this game would have destroyed Steve Nash.
And make no mistake, the Lakers nearly did lose it. With 1.7 seconds left, Detroit nearly turned the tables on the Lakers' excellent lob play to end the first half. But Kyle Singler waited just a hair too long to throw a lob to Andre Drummond and Pau Gasol did just enough to prevent Drummond from throwing it down. Instead, that play joined with nearly all the others, from both teams, on the fail pile. There were no points scored in the final minute of play, despite 4 free throws for the Lakers and two attempts at the rim for Detroit.
This was far tougher a game for the Lakers than it should have been, because Detroit has an embarrassment of riches at the center position, and little else. With both Jordan Hill and Dwight Howard on the pine, Detroit was able to bully the Lakers late, and their little and explosive guards were able to drive to the rim at will with little threat of having their lunch handed to them. So, even though Detroit is a very poor team, this wasn't exactly a gimme win for the Lakers in their current state. Still, this losing big leads thing has to stop. That's been a Lakers calling card for years, but the thing is, one doesn't get the feeling that this team is letting their foot off the gas. Instead, the Lakers seem to have a real problem with getting into short-lived offensive funks, and their defense is disorganized enough to always be ready to give up points on a few possessions in a row.
But, hey, the Lakers won again. In a 10 AM local time contest, without Dwight Howard, the Lakers did what they needed to do, and not an ounce more, in order to maintain some small semblance of hope in regards to the current season. Sometimes, you have just have to ignore the how, and focus on the what.***