The Los Angeles Lakers had themselves quite an outing last Sunday against the Portland Trailblazers as Kobe Bryant lead them with 22 points—including 10 in the fourth quarter en route to an 84-80 final score—their 50th win of the NBA regular season.
The Lakers went the distance despite the disparity of presence in the post brought about by the absence of suspended center Andrew Bynum. Bryant was also a point of concern as he had acquired an injury to his neck two days prior—the most recent addition to his admirably tolerated list.
The closely contested game demanded clutch plays from both Bryant and team captain Derek Fisher before it ultimately handed itself over to the Lakers. Bryant connected on an improbable leaner over Trailblazers forward LaMarcus Aldridge and a tough fade away baseline jumper over Trailblazers guard Brandon Roy to put the Lakers up by five with about 30 seconds left on the game clock.
Fisher capped off the night by hitting a dagger bucket to counter a previous three-point shot that Trailblazers forward Nicolas Batum recorded after Bryant's efforts.
Evidently, the Lakers have a lot to be happy about following the win that launched them into second place in the Western Conference and the given psychological satisfaction of reaching the 50-win mark.
However, Coach Phil Jackson doesn't feel like much celebration is due to such an accomplishment.
Moments after the final buzzer went off, the 11-time NBA Champion left a friendly message for his players on the team's locker room whiteboard.
"Good one. Tomorrow, same as it always is."
The whiteboard quote was then photographed and uploaded by Lakers.com staff to the team's official accounts on the social networking sites Twitter and Facebook.
Though the message was short and simple, it shows a lot of what Jackson's intentions for this team are.
The Lakers aren't merely after a good regular season record or even the top spot in their conference. They are after something much bigger.
With the season being labeled as "Phil's Last Stand," it is apparent that the only way for this franchise to call the season a success is by bringing home another banner to the city of Los Angeles.
Coach Jackson wants focus, momentum and drive heading into the playoffs, and no other notions that may derail his objectives should be entertained.
No early celebrations. No relaxed presumptions.
For the defending champions, same as it always is.
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