The Lakers went into Brooklyn battered and short-handed, but walk out of the Barclays Center with their third straight victory on the road. With Dwight Howard electing to continue missing time because of his shoulder injury and Metta World Peace receiving a suspension because of Sunday's incident with Brandon Knight, the Lakers had the odds stacked against them. It was another contest that came down to the Lakers giving up a lead yet finding a way to hold on. Without key personnel the purple and gold improved to 3-1 on their 7 game road trip, final score; 92-83.
With the Lakers making us hold our breath as they edged out the victory and we can exhale, there's still one issue. Pau Gasol tweaked his foot and was taken out late in the 4th quarter. The early diagnosis appears to be that he strained the plantar fascitis in his right foot, but he will have an MRI tomorrow morning in Boston. Boston. Through the first half of the game Pau was effective and active in the post, but as the game played out through the second half he looked disengaged and wasn't able to mirror his performance to open the game. Gasol had 15 points on 6-16 shooting and 4 rebounds before heading back to have his foot examined.
Enough of the sour. Back to the sweet. Here, a cleansing of the palate.
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So now we're back on track. This was a gutsy win from a team that had every reason to feel deflated. Even when the Lakers had to resort to glorious lineups featuring Steve Blake, Jodie Meeks, Antawn Jamison, Earl Clark, and Robert Sacre they competed at both ends. Eventually time and logic would catch up to the makeshift five-man lineups that D'Antoni had to resort to, but they held on long enough, just enough.
Kobe Bryant didn't have a brilliant night by the numbers. Going 9-24 from the field isn't efficient and certainly didn't help put his team over the top when they needed him the most. But all that will linger from this game are the shots he did make. The monster dunk from above. The breakaway one handed slam. A ridiculous crossover of Gerald Wallace into a beautiful jump shot. The layup that was called for a goaltend down the stretch in the 4th. Bryant ended the night with 21 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists, a handful of statement plays, and MVP chants in Brooklyn.
The Lakers had trouble controlling the glass without Metta World Peace and Dwight Howard. The Nets outrebounded the Lakers 52-40 and had 20 offensive rebounds. Earl Clark led the team with 12 rebounds (and 14 points on 6-9 shooting). Clark ended up logging 40 minutes for the "all hands on deck" situation the Lakers were in and continued to be a positive force for Los Angeles.
Brook Lopez led the Brooklyn Nets with 30 points and 11 rebounds (7 offensive). Both Brooklyn (26%) and Los Angeles (23%) shot poorly from deep. The Nets centerpiece, Deron Williams, tallied up 15 points on 5-13 shooting, 6 assists, 5 rebounds, and 5 turnovers. Once Pau Gasol went out after tweaking his foot the Lakers decided to stay small and left Earl Clark on the bench, but the Nets were unable to capitalize on the size mismatch. Over the final 2 minutes of play the Nets were unable to score and the Lakers went on a 10-0 run to cap off an invigorating victory.
Big victories come in a variety of flavors, and as of late they've been bitter. This one, however, is much sweeter. A notice from the Lakers that they can dig in and have some fortitude left in a season that has tested them at every opportunity. Next up? The Boston Celtics on Thursday followed by the Charlotte Bobcats. Enjoy a hard earned victory, more in the morning, including what should be MRI results on Pau Gasol's foot.
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