Tonight's game was a real gem, yes?
In all seriousness, the Lakers victory over the Charlotte Bobcats was one of the least enjoyable viewing experiences you might have watching an NBA game. If you look at the box score, it's quite difficult to pinpoint why it was such a chore. Kobe didn't shoot well, but he also didn't shoot much. The bigs got the touches (and the shots) they apparently craved, and did OK with said touches. The team shot 46.4% for the game. They didn't turn the ball over very much. They assisted on a good percentage of their field goals. Aside from giving up too many offensive rebounds, there's not really one thing you can point to and say "that's why the Lakers weren't playing well". And yet, there was an unmistakable stink to the game. Put simply, there was no joy in the way the Lakers played.
The Lakers look like a disinterested, tired, cranky team right now, and honestly, I can't blame them. After playing 8 games in a 12 day period, the Lakers were "rewarded" with only one day off after traveling all the way from Memphis back home to Los Angeles. Gee, thanks NBA. So, a frustrating road trip carried over into a frustrating home game. At least the Lakers found a way to win, or else frustration would be giving way to actual anger.
Kobe Bryant responded to criticism of his shot selection by shooting far less than in previous games, and the shot distribution was much more in line with what the coaches would like to see (Kobe had 12 shots, Pau had 13, and Bynum had 14). Unfortunately, to these eyes, Bryant got rid of the good shots, not the bad ones, which may explain why he was 2-12 on the night. Meanwhile, as I mentioned before, Kobe isn't really the problem. It's the other perimeter players who seem to think they should have a license to shoot at all times, a fact which didn't change at all. Somehow, when a more equal distribution of shots was being discussed, I don't think they meant that Shannon Brown and Jordan Farmar should be shooting as much as anyone. Both players took every available jumper, and neither made enough shots to justify the poor decisions. Shannon was particularly egregious.
Andrew Bynum came through with a strong game, 17 pts and 14 boards, but the only possible candidate for player of the game had to be Lamar Odom. LO came through with one of his classic "I'm only there when you really need me" games, going off for a team high 19 pts on 10 shots, and pulling in 7 boards, in only 28 minutes. Then again, LO also provided the worst moment of the game, by inadvertently stepping on Kobe's already injured ankle, causing Kobe to limp off the floor at the end of the 1st half. Then again again, Kobe played just as much in the 2nd half as he did in the 1st, and was every bit as effective (or ineffective), so we'll give LO a pass. Anybody want to put money that Kobe misses a game?
Neither team could apparently be bothered to rebound the other team's misses, causing for an extremely slow paced game because possessions just kept dragging on forever. Considering that the Bobcats were without their best rebounder, and only All-Star, Gerald Wallace, one could label their near 50% offensive rebound rate as quite embarrassing for the Lakers. But, the Lakers did snag 36% of their own offensive rebounds, and they didn't turn the ball over hardly at all, and those were the keys to a victory that should have been more entertaining than it was.
They say that the time right before the All-Star break is the hardest part of the season for the players. The season is more than 1/2 over, players are starting to wear down, but the sense of urgency regarding the playoffs is not there yet. It's the "dog days of winter", if you will. Well, judging by how much "fun" the Lakers appeared to have had tonight, I'd say the All-Star break can't get here soon enough. In the mean time, a crappy win over the beat up Bobcats counts just as much in the standings as a 40 point beatdown of a conference rival, so I guess all's well that ends well.
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