"We ain't losing this game, come on."
Those words uttered by Kobe Bryant toward the end of overtime Sunday against the Mavs is Kobe in a nutshell.
He took the Lakers on his shoulders and would not let them lose. Yeah, he had 52 points and was 17-17 from the free throw line after starting 3-10, but perhaps the biggest play of the game was his offensive rebound off Lamar Odom's miss late in regulation (Jeff Van Gundy predicted it would happen) when the Lakers were up 91-90. Kobe knocked down both free throws and Dirk needed a three to tie the game. Without the rebound, we could be talking about a completely different story.
It was fitting that on the anniversary of Wilt Chamberlain's 100 point game, Kobe put up a dominating performance.
"This was the type of game that you really want to play in when you're growing up, a physical game, a lot at stake in the Western Conference, it was a lot of fun," Kobe said.
The Lakers shot just 37.7% from the field and still found a way to win. How? The Lakers defense was solid for the most part, aside from some defensive lapses late in the game that allowed Dirk to get open 3-pointers. But overall, Kobe did a superb job on Josh Howard who was a quiet 4-15 with 11 points and Jerry Stackhouse who was 2-12. Dirk was 10-26 due to Lamar's length defensively, even though he did get it going late in the game.
The Elephant in the Room: Phil Jackson has gone to Jordan Farmar at the end of games because Derek Fisher is struggling mightily with his jump shot.
Fisher shot 36% from the field in February after shooting 48% from the field in January and 49% from 3-point range.
Fisher has been a huge part of the Lakers success and won't shoot 35% all season long, but it's a nice luxury to have Farmar and be able to play the point guard who's hot at the time.
Don't blame Kirk Walters:
Here's something you probably thought you'd never hear: "Walters has played some quality minutes."
That, from CBS' play by play man, Jim Nantz.
But what Arizona fans will remember is Walters catching the ball with five seconds, looking toward the basket, seeing no one within 10 feet and passing it backward to Jerryd Bayless. The first instinct is to yell "shoot the ball" or "take it to the hoop" but we're talking about a guy who had two point sand one field goal attempts, and that was a good game for him.
Throwing the ball to Walters is like the Lakers having Kobe on the floor but passing it to DJ Mbenga. Walters is not a decision maker so when he got the ball, his first instinct was to give it to a scorer, in this case Bayless. If you're drawing up a play with five seconds left, you better make sure that Walters is your last option. Since the ball was thrown in quickly, I doubt that Walters was option No. 5.
Having senior day after the game is a travesty to the seniors who have given so much to the program.
Pac-10 Player of the Year
College athlete awards are usually a joke, because rarely does the best player ever win. For some reason upperclassmen get the hardware at the expense of better freshmen. This season, Kevin Love is the best player in the Pac-10 and deserves to win the award.
(More on this in the next blog.)
El Camino boys soccer losses in the City Championship: Check out my Daily News article.
As always, an updated Lakers +/- (through 60 games) Lakers: 42-18 1st in West
Up next: at Sacramento Tuesday 7:00 p.m. PST KCAL