LAL 2012-2013 12-16 W(r) PHI

On the TWCSportsNet post-game show, Coach Dave Miller stated, in reference to the most consistent contributor to The Lakers in recent weeks, Jodie Meeks: “For a shooter, the only bad shot is the one you didn’t take.” And “we the fans” of The Lakers are used to that saying coming true, from time to time, when Kobe Bryant just seems to chuck it up toward the basket endlessly – whether it’s going in or not. Today, just about everything that The Lakers tried seemed to work! But that’s mostly due to the consistent play of almost everybody that got out onto the hardwood – Dwight Howard struggled early, but ended up with a nice stat line, but his defensive presence was huge! Jamison was a non-factor, and Morris’ inability to play the point productively to start the 4th Quarter led to D’Antoni calling a timeout and putting Duhon back on the floor. But, overall, this effort by The Lakers, defensively, led by Metta World Peace, was tremendous! They were moving their feet faster than they have all season.

But more than how fast they moved defensively, The Lakers were passing the ball quickly and crisply, on offense and they were getting open looks all game long! The spacing was great, and we were treated to a great effort by The Lakers today – maybe their best performance, as a team, all season! So far. I gotta believe I’ll be saying that again when Steve Nash & Pau Gasol return. And when will that be? It could be soon. The halftime score as Lakers 60, 76ers 50 had me chomping at the bit to see a 115+ performance today. But limiting The 76ers to less than 100 points was a significant accomplishment. Up 87-63 after 3 quarters, there was a short momentum shift that saw the 76ers dip into a Lakers lead that caused D’Antoni to call a timeout early in the 4th Quarter. Darius Morris had played well, in the 1st Half; but, then he turned his ankle and he became less effective. Bringing Chris Duhon back onto the court to solidify what The Lakers were trying to accomplish, that was a big deal! Kobe Bryant hit a shot, Dwight Howard did too. Metta World Peace was pestering whomever had the ball.

Turnovers were down significantly, defense was measurably better. Final Score: Lakers 111, 76ers 98. (Recap)

Holding off surges by The Philadelphia 76ers wasn’t easy with Nick Young and Thaddeus Young shooting lights out, even if well-guarded. So, hot shooting by The Los Angeles Lakers was a must today, and a very difficult thing to accomplish to come up with a victory on the road. But the tenacious defense by The Lakers, led by Metta World Peace and Dwight Howard held up against Evan Turner, Spencer Hawes, Lou Williams… There was a moment early in the game where Doug Collins called a timeout for The 76ers with bewilderment written across his face, wondering how his players couldn’t seem to stop a jump shooter like Jodie Meeks from catching a ball and getting his feet set before throwing up an unguarded shot from behind the arc for an easy basket. Kwame Brown did a better job defending Dwight Howard than Spencer Hawes did, but D12 battled through it to finish with 17 points, 11 rebounds and 5 assists! Metta World Peace had 19 points and 16 rebounds, and even more significantly, 4 steals!!!! Kobe Bryant shot 12-21 from the field, so that stat of Lakers losing most games this year when he scores 30+ can be thrown out the window: The distribution of the ball from a team effort of getting the ball quickly to whomever had an open shot was a huge part of their success tonight.

Way to go, Lakers! It was a fun game to watch, a great morale booster for “we the fans” but from what I have heard from post-game interviews of the players, the team is feeling like this game is a turning point to getting point in the right direction, finally getting a firm understanding of D’Antoni’s intended pace & flow of how to best implement his gameplan. Of course, Devin Ebanks scored 0 points in 19 minutes, and Antawn Jamison also score no points in 13 minutes; so, with injuries decimating the roster, it would be nice to see contributions from everybody else – but is that realistic? D’Antoni did a good job of adjusting personnel to find combinations that worked, to keep shooters on the court without sacrificing effort others might do better bringing to the team on the defensive end. That’s what a good coach does, right? Let’s hope this new winning streak extends beyond just these last 2 victories!

Twitter was jumping with excitement among LakersNation during this Lakers game. Darius Soriano of ForumBlueandGold always has great stuff to contribute, somebody was wrongfully accusing a great sports writer, Eric Pincus of the L.A. Times, of anti-Lakers bias. That reminds me: I promised to read something he wrote during the 3rd Quarter (link). Reading it, finally, his point about asking the question “Where would The Lakers be…?” this year, if they were without the services of Dwight Howard, or hadn’t traded him for Andrew Bynum (who is still unavailable for The 76ers due to knee problems), is a good one. Without Nash, Blake, Gasol, Hill, this game may not have ended as a win if we hadn’t got some value somehow from the Center position. And, if we didn’t have Dwight Howard (my thoughts), we might still have Mike Brown! So, I’m okay with where we’re at as a team – growing pains, not much more than that. If we can persevere with patience for the return of Steve Nash & Pau Gasol, the dividends will be worth it!

Let’s go, Lakers! Let’s beat The Charlotte Bobcats! And then, back on the road we go.

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