“I’m not concerned … It’s a good lesson.”
Leave it to Kobe Bryant to put a last-second loss to Philadelphia – courtesy of Andre Iguodala’s pull-up three pointer as the clock went red – into perspective.
Is it a good thing that L.A. blew a 14-point fourth quarter lead? Um, no. Is it fun for Lakers fans that Trevor Ariza failed to take L.A.’s foul to give before Iggy pulled up? Not exactly. Was Phil Jackson pleased that the Lakers’ bench again failed to produce meaningfully? Negative.
But ultimately, as Bryant went on to explain, it was better that this kind of situation happened to the Lakers on March 17 than in the playoffs. After all, when the dust cleared the STAPLES Center, all the loss really meant was that the Lakers lost a half game to Cleveland in the race for the league’s best record.
That Iguodala needed a triple to win occurred because Bryant – after missing his first five shots of the fourth quarter and struggling to stay on the court due to foul trouble – nailed a 23-footer with 6.6 seconds on the clock to put L.A. up 93-91.
That almost bailed the Lakers out of after they failed to control the tempo and take care of the ball in getting outscored 32-20 in the final quarter.
“We are disappointed in the way that we played the game,” said Phil Jackson. “I told the team we had to work real hard to lose that game; we found a way to do it though.”
That they did, after a terrific third quarter in which L.A. conceded just 12 points while scoring 23 of their own. It all came down to the original game plan – keep Philly from running. Indeed, when L.A. kept Philly off its horse in the first and third quarters, the purple and gold dominated. Conversely, when L.A. turned the ball over, missed shots or stopped paying as close attention, Philly’s black jerseys were like a collective black stallion running right past the Lakers en route to easy shots.
But wait a second … what’s that Kobe? Ah, right. Just relax. The Lakers will be fine. They get their first chance to rebound against a Golden State team that’s fallen victim to L.A. three times already this season before taking off on a seven-game road trip.
Club Trillion player for L.A.: D.J. Mbenga, who played just under two minutes and didn’t put up a digit other than zero in any category.
Fourth quarter three pointers from veteran Donyell Marshall, who was in the game, basically, to shoot threes. Funny how that worked out.
Shots missed by Pau Gasol in L.A.’s last two games. Against the Sixers, Gasol made 9-of-12 shots, while on Sunday vs. Dallas, he was good on 12-of-13.
Offensive rebounds for Lamar Odom. As a team, L.A. grabbed 10, which was four less than Philly.
The most shots attempted by any one Laker. It was Bryant, who made just five (33 percent) in 32 minutes.
Turnovers by the Lakers, eight more than their opponent. Five came in the fourth quarter after a well-controlled third quarter (three TOs).
Also the number of bench points for L.A., signifying the continued struggles of the second unit.