Healthy Kobe Bryant or injured, the Los Angeles Lakers weren’t supposed to win on the road against the Indiana Pacers. But Dwight Howard is in a different mode at the moment, and so is the rest of the team, so even 0 points from their almighty ruler couldn’t stop them from getting an unexpected yet huge win.
Kobe said we’ve got to do whatever we can, that we had to trust each other.
It’s funny hearing Howard speak that way of Bryant, but maybe seeing the man who rolled his ankle less than 48 hours prior to their trip to Indiana in the loss to the Hawks try and play injured (giving 12 minutes, not being able to carry it any longer) gave the Lakers something extra they needed against a team that should have made life much more difficult for them, winning in Indiana 99-93.
Dwight Howard led with 20 points and added 12 rebounds, not to mention 4 assists (a real rarity for Howard) and 4 blocked shots. He had no problem dominating Roy Hibbert in the paint, while getting a lot of help on the boards against an excellent rebounding team, with Earl Clark, Metta World Peace, Antawn Jamison and even Steve Balke chipping in to still lose the rebounding battle, but not by as much as you’d expect, with the Pacers grabbing 17 offensive rebounds.
I told them before the game, `I don’t know how much I have, but whatever I have, I’ll give you.
It’s been nine years since Kobe Bryant scored 0 in a game, making it the 15th time in his career. He has never played more than 14 minutes on such an occurrence but being injured and hurting didn’t stop him from trying four times instead of calling it quits earlier. In a blend of a gallant effort to borderline narcissism and selfishness, needing to hear about how much he helped his team despite being injured, Bryant managed to cause minimum damage on the floor, while bringing enough inspiration according to Nash (15 points, 9 assists) and Howard.
It was also the shooting. Despite not having their best scorer, the Lakers moved the ball well (or maybe it was the reason?), as guys like Metta World Peace and especially Steve Blake (5-7 from three) found it very hard to miss, regardless of the number of hands they were seeing in their face when going up for the shot.
We had too many breakdowns; we didn’t follow the game plan. Guarding the 3-point line was probably the biggest of the mental breakdowns. We left shooters left and right, a variety of different ways. We didn’t play a good basketball game.
As the Miami Heat create separation from the Knicks and Pacers in the Eastern conference, so do the Pacers struggle to find consistency, even on their much heralded defense. The return of Danny Granger, only to be sidelined again, hasn’t done too well for the team, who seemed to have been caught up slightly in false hope. Paul George and George Hill combined for 47 points on atrocious shooting, but the man who has been the real key to success, David West, was nowhere to be found.
The Lakers are now slowly creating separation from the Utah Jazz, and are finally looking like a team, not a bunch of individuals busy quarreling and arguing over who is the one to blame. Kobe Bryant didn’t score, but he led by example, giving Dwight Howard and Steve Nash enough of a mental push to win in a place they wouldn’t be winning in a few weeks ago.