Kobe Bryant finished with 31 points, Andrew Bynum with 36. The Los Angeles Lakers beat their little sister 113-108 in a game that had most people talking about Blake Griffin destroying Pau Gasol with another one for the his impressive highlight book. But as Andrew Bynum put it – We got the W. Griffin can have the highlight.
Bryant criticized for his shooting and ball hogging? Since going 3-21 against against the Hornets during the weekend, Bryant is 39-63, 61.9% from the field. We’re uber-critical of Bryant’s shooting more often than not, but you gotta take the hat off for the man when he deserves it. His shooting in the fourth, his shooting in general over the last four games has been incredible. He’s even sharing the ball.
When Andrew Bynum finished with 36 points, you know Bryant felt like he wants to share his toys in the sandbox. Bynum has had his share of problems recently, not playing against the Nets and spending only 10 minutes on the court against the Warriors. The Lakers still managed to win without him, but having Bynum back makes the Lakers better than teams that might actually pose some kind of threat.
Pau Gasol did look shaken. He usually does all the hard work, grab the boards and does the D while Bynum and Bryant take on the scoring load. This time, the early dunk by Griffin off a rebound and later, the posterizing, seemed to catch him a bit off guard, and take him out of things.
The Clippers have shifted momentum in the city, there’s no doubt. It actually felt like a home game for them, and not just because of the colors on the parquet. You could feel the crowd, especially during Griffin’s dunks. It didn’t matter. This is still a Lakers town. Staples Center is still Kobe Bryant’s iron throne.
The Lakers are now 2.5 games ahead of the Clippers in the Western Conference. They’re a better team at this point of the season, Chris Paul or no Chris Paul. Having a better defense, a better head coach and actual perimeter play instead of an troupe of athletes makes up for the point guard issue.
And even at that position, the Lakers are not so lacking anymore. Ramon Sessions finished with 16 points and 8 assists, and he’s averaging 14 points and 7.3 assists since arriving from Cleveland. He may not be CP-3 or an All-Star caliber point guard, but it’s much better than what they had previously, with all due respect to Derek Fisher. Sessions makes it one less of a position to worry about for the Lakers, who on some nights, when things click on both ends of the floor, look like title contenders once again.