The Lakers had won three straight without Kobe Bryant in the lineup and two and a half of those were without Andrew Bynum as well. With the added rest from the All-Star break it seemed like Bryant would be ready to return and possibly Bynum who is still feeling pain from a bruised hip. But Bynum was the one ready to return and Bryant sat out another game. As it turns out, the Lakers needed Bynum and didn't need Bryant to defeat the Warriors last night, 104-94.
Shannon Brown stepped up huge in place of Bryant. Brown, just like Bryant isn't shy to get his shots and with Gasol struggling, he became the first option. He took a team-high 19 shots and hit 11 of them. He had a career-high 27 points and 10 rebounds for his first double-double ever. It's amazing that a guy who has started just 12 games in his career has this type of confidence.
Andrew Bynum looked as athletic as he has all season at the
beginning of the game. At halftime he had hit all six of his shots for
15 points on a variety of different moves. He dunked it, hit a jumper,
and hit his baby hook. But as he has tended to do all season, he
disappeared in the second half. There have been so many games where he
has had 10-20 points in the first half and then finished with just 3-5
points in the second half. In the second half of this game he scored
six points on three of six shooting.
It's not as if Phil Jackson scaled back his minutes. He played an equal amount in the second half as he did in the first. It seemed like it was mainly a situation where the Lakers settled for more jumpers and a part of it was the Warriors adjusted by double-teaming him. It would be nice though if he could string together two good halves.
The entire game was a game of runs - which tends to happen when you play the Warriors. They rely on fastbreak buckets and are primarily a jump shooting team. When they're getting turnovers and hitting shots they can rack up the points, but they can also go through cold spells.
The Lakers allowed the Warriors to make their runs because of
turnovers and poor free throw shooting. The Warriors scored 26 points
on 19 Laker turnovers. From the line the Lakers started 13 for 22
before hitting their final nine attempts.
Aside from Lamar Odom, the bench was very disappointing. It seemed like Jackson was giving Adam Morrison and Sasha Vujacic a chance with extended minutes and they both failed to impress. Morrison missed the two open shots he took and Vujacic missed his three attempts. Jordan Farmar has been shooting the ball extremely well and that continued with a three for four night but he had five turnovers in 20 minutes.
The Warriors need to make a deal. I don't know what all their contract situations are, but they have a bevy of talent at the guard position but no inside presence whatsoever. Anthony Morrow, Stephen Curry, C.J. Watson, and Monta Ellis (who didn't play last night due to an ankle injury) are all great perimeter scorers who could be quite valuable to other teams. Even their interior players want to play outside. Corey Maggette looks to slash from outside and usually doesn't post up and Anthony Tolliver is mainly a jump shooter. The only true inside guys they have are the relatively useless Andris Biedrins and the scrappy yet undersized Ronnie Turiaf. Granted, the injured Anthony Randolph would help but it still wouldn't be enough. It's a shame they're wasting so much talent on such a bad and unbalanced team.
The Lakers play the Celtics Thursday and if there's any team that could get Kobe to play - it's the Celtics.