Last night's game against the Kings was like an exhibition game. It seemed as if Phil Jackson didn't care about the result as much as getting everyone involved. The bench saw significant minutes with Kobe Bryant and Andrew Bynum out, Jordan Farmar getting injured early in the game, and Jackson monitoring the minutes of some of his starters (mainly Derek Fisher). Overall, the results were good but it's tough to draw much of a conclusion since they were facing the Kings and Tyreke Evans barely played.
Quick Game Summary
The first thing that caught the eye was Ron Artest's head. He and DJ Mbenga dyed their hair gold. But Artest hit just one of seven shots for two points last night. I'm wondering if he'll get a new look before the playoffs. Maybe he should go with some sort of metallic shine in an attempt to blind Kevin Durant in the playoffs.
Jordan Farmar strained his hamstring in the second quarter and sat out the rest of the game. In his place, Sasha Vujacic got to play 26 minutes and he made the most of them. He hit two buzzer-beaters; a three-pointer at the end of the first, and a jumper off of a rebound in the third. He scored a season-high 13 points on 5-9 shooting.
In the first half Tyreke Evans played limited minutes due to foul trouble. In the second half he played limited minutes because he was ejected. With 8:04 remaining in the third, Tyreke drove to the lane and got slapped on the hand by Shannon Brown. He converted the layup but the foul wasn't called and Evans glared at the official and mouthed off. He was issued the technical and then turned back to the official and had a few more words. At that point he was tossed. And that's how the Rookie of the Year's season ended. It also was the turning point in the game. That bucket cut the Laker lead to 67-66 and Tyreke had just begun to get aggressive. He had already scored six points in the quarter and was getting to the rim at will. With Evans out, the Lakers closed the quarter on a 19-6 run.
The Kings closed the gap in the fourth and Pau Gasol had to re-enter the game to assure the win. Gasol was brilliant. He hit 12 of 15 shots for 28 points and added eight rebounds. He had everything going from his sky hook, to his jumper, to some sort of flip over the head shot that he just threw up at the rim after Jason Thompson pulled the chair out from under him.
Shannon Brown filled in nicely for Bryant. He hit 10 of 19 shots while scoring 24 points. It was his second highest point total this season. Brown has been hampered by an injured thumb on his shooting hand but his shot looked much better last night. That's a really good sign heading into the playoffs. They will need him to score coming off the bench.
Luke Walton played a season-high 26 minutes and it didn't seem to bother him. Walton has played in just 28 games this season due to back issues. He hit four of 11 shots and dished out three assists. He's another guy off the bench that must play well in the postseason. They don't need him to score but just to manage the second unit and facilitate.
The Lakers will play the Clippers on the "road" today to wrap up their regular season. By game time (10:30pm) the Lakers will know if the game means anything at all. They've wrapped up the top seed in the West and will play the Thunder but they are still in a battle with the Magic for home court if they were to meet in the Finals. The Magic would need to lose to the 76ers (8pm game time) and the Lakers would need to beat the Clippers. Don't expect the 76ers to beat the Magic.