This the first part of a 2-part article recapping my experience watching the Lakers vs. Kings game on Friday, Jan. 1, 2010. Sitting courtside, I was witness to Kobe’s game winning 3-pointer at the buzzer and the Lakers first 20+ point comeback since 2006.
The game started very slowly as I’ve seen most Lakers games begin.
They played lethargically and without energy going down 5 at the quarter and 15 at the half.
I cannot figure out why the Lakers play like this, but Sacramento showed much more energy and enthusiasm during the first half.
Washington alum Spencer Hawes absolutely went off, starting from the opening tip. He had 30 points in the game, including 4 three-pointers, and 11 rebounds.
I was actually more impressed with his aggressiveness on the boards than his scoring performance. Going up against a front line of Gasol, Bynum, and Odom can be a difficult challenge for a smaller team like the Kings, but Hawes did seem to hold his own.
There was a bit of “no matter what” aggressiveness where he was rebounding balls away from his teammates. He never stole it from them, but just outrebounded them, almost with ignorance to which team they were playing for, the way an aggressive rebounder should.
Brockman got a bit of time as well, which I was glad to see, and even got a bucket at the end of a scoring stretch that annoyed Lakers fans enough to draw boos on the hometown team.
Hopefully Brockman is able to continue to get a few solid minutes while their team rotates through injuries.
At half time, I managed to run into an old friend Bob Myers, who—with Arn Tellem—represents Hawes, Brockman, Tyreke Evans, and other Kings. He was happy to see Hawes doing so well, yet not so happy to be working on New Years Day.
One last guy that I really liked on the Kings was Udoka.
This guy was very smooth and skilled with a solid body and athleticism. I’m not sure why he is not playing much, but he shined against the Lakers and if I were Westphal I would continue to use him.
I was disappointed with most of the rest of the Kings team and do not think they will last long trying to ride Casspi’s coattails.
Their point guard Udrih has some skills, scoring from many different angles and showing the ability to both penetrate and knock down shots. I imagine he could struggle defensively against the quicker guards like Paul and Nash.
On the Lakers side, I continue to like Jordan Farmar. His head is in the right place and he plays with a solid attitude.
Adam Morrison got a few minutes but I swear he was cracked out. He needs to shave and open his eyes so he doesn’t look so stoned if he wants to be respected as a player.
Hitting some shots would help, too.
Kobe seemed to coast when he could easily be scoring 50 points against a Kings team like that. It’s disappointing to see, although some poor shooting at the start of the game might have encouraged him to hold back and let his teammates get some shots.
The biggest issue I have with the Lakers is their aggressiveness in the paint.
The Lakers started 7-0 (Bynum), 7-0 (Gasol), and 6-10 (Odom) yet were outscored in the first half in points in the paint and merely tied the Kings on the game in that category (46-46).
Besides their height advantage, the Lakers front line probably outweighed the Kings by 200 lbs. as well.
I think Phil Jackson is too devoted to his offense and does not adjust enough for his players.
I think the triangle offense has its benefits, but I also think it is built for certain kinds of players. It might be great for those guys individually, but all in there together, I just think there should be more options for getting your big guys the ball inside with mismatches.
No matter what the solution is, that front line should never be outscored in the paint.
All in all, the game was very exciting.
The final minute of play was great, although the Lakers did get quite lucky with the two missed free throws by Udoka with 4 seconds left.
I just wish the Lakers would use their size more or let Kobe go for 50+ every game (as much as I hate the guy, he has the talent to do so).
But, mostly, they need to show some energy in the first half.
I know they won the title last year with almost the exact same team, but if they want to be a dynasty team, I really think they need to treat more minutes of each game like they are a playoff game.