Here is the Box Score. 4 Factors:
Look, I know Kobe Bryant is a 1st ballot HOF, and damn sure is among the 20 greatest to ever lace them up. I’ve seen Kobe will the Lakers to victory by his lonesome before, and while this game wasn’t exactly cut straight out of that particular template, it was pretty close.
(UPDATE: You can see where Kobe pushed off at the 1:14 mark. H/T to With Malice.
There were problems with referee’s (as usual whenever the Lakers are playing it seems), and Kobe pushed Sergio Rodriguez away before hitting that buzzer beating 3. Yes, I know this. So in the meanwhile don’t read my recap. There are other reason’s why the Kings lost.
First, I don’t blame Ime Udoka for the loss. Yes, the Kings probably win if he hits those 2 FT’s. I don’t think he missed them on purpose, but it’s not that simple. It rarely is. Udoka makes a great play with about 40 secs left when he knocks the ball off Gasol to give the Kings the possession to be up 2. Udoka is shooting 79% from the FT line, and I would not have believed it if you told me beforehand he would have stepped up there & missed both. Udoka has been everything and then some the Kings could have asked for up to this point.
Kobe Bryant got away with a shove. If he was, oh, say, Donte Greene, nevermind bad analogy. Superstar’s get away with those things. They just do. I’m interested to see a Kings fan reaction when Tyreke Evans tries something similar and gets away with it. It wasn’t just Kobe Bryant being “Kobe Bryant'; it’s also partly because the guy is a savvy veteran. (Can’t believe I just wrote that last line. I remember Kobe’s 21 yr old days.)
So, let’s leave it at that. There were many positives in this game. Onto the Bullet Points:
* Spencer Hawes was great tonight in pretty much every area. He set a career high in points, grabbed 11 boards (although most of those were not late), and had 4 assists (all 1st qtr if I remember accurately). Still, Spencer’s offense made it possible the Kings could have won tonight.
* Where was Jason Thompson? And, is it possible that JT & Spence could have a great game together? Please?
* The Kings really missed Tyreke Evans tonight.
* Beno Udrih and Spencer Hawes 2 man game was excellent, and it created a close game as it was. It was fun to watch Spencer, but it would have been something amazing to see JT & Spence to go off. Sigh. That’s all I can think about, and this is after another spent around a Lakers idiot who loves to tell us poor Kings folk the way of the world. Beno’s game was terrific, but there were at least 2 or 3 times I thought he traveled on made buckets. Sometimes the game goes both ways.
* Ime Udoka played a terrific game, and it should be remembered as such. Missing 2 FT’s may haunt him, but hopefully not. He didn’t choke IMO. He just simply missed 2 FT’s at the end of the game that the Kings needed him to make. Players who choke don’t play well at the end of games. Players who choke don’t knock the ball off an All-Star PF with 40 secs left. Udoka may have choked at the line, but I prefer to think of it as bad timing for a pretty admirable journeyman whose played basketball around the world and continues to play with everything he has every time he steps on the court. if that’s a definition of a choke artist, I’d love to have 12 Ime Udoka’s on my team every time. If that’s me being a Pollyanna this is how I’d respond: Bet your fucking ass I am.
* Omri Casspi was balls out awesome throughout the game. Quite honestly, he would have won the Player of the Game had he defended Lamar Odom anywhere near as well as Spencer defended Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum.
* Paul Westphal coached one whale of a game. Not saying he did everything perfectly, but he wanted this game as he wants every game. He is, after all, a NBA coach.
* The NBA, and more specifically the referee’s, are the biggest losers in this game. The Lakers got a reprieve on their home court, and a wake up call they may not use for awhile. The Kings lost, but they are essentially martyr’s because of Kobe’s pushoff and the fact he may ALSO have stepped out of bounds. It would have been a perfect trifecta had Kobe released the ball 1/10 of a second later.
Whether or not the NBA cares to admit it, the perception is that the referee’s call games in the Lakers favor because they are the Lakers. Rarely do you see the Lakers lose games where the game is poorly officiated. Very rarely. Because of this you see so many fans complain about the outcome. Not saying it’s the right answer; I don’t think it is actually. But this isn’t a Lakers blog, and frankly, I don’t give enough of a shit to spend more time than I already have talking about the Lakers that much.
* I’ve seen a few fans really mention how little Andrew Bynum impresses them, and I’m beginning to think they are right. Bynum played 33 mins, scored 16 points, grabbed 4 boards (on a team killing the Kings on the boards), and got to the line twice. Not so impressive to my eye.
* Partly the reason the Kings were even in position to lose on Kobe’s 3 ball was that the Baby Royals simply were murdered on the boards in the 2nd half. This team will either need a better player to defend the interior and grab these balls, or Jason Thompson and Spencer Hawes will have to become ridiculously awesome in that way. You can guess which way I’m leaning here.
* Why was Sergio Rodriguez in at the end of the game? (And I don’t mean in the final seconds. I meant up until the last 2 minutes. Sergio was in for his FT shooting and ball handling.)
* The Kings committed 24 fouls to the Lakers 15. If that disparity at the very least could be whittled down by sheer better inside play from Jason Thompson, I would be shocked. His poor game offensively definitely contributed to the poor foul drawing margin.
* Pau Gasol is a great player. That open court switch of the hands move may be the best display of raw skill I’ve ever seen from a big man.
* Kobe Bryant had a pretty good game (for him) going until that final play. In fact, any Laker fan who really wants to celebrate Kobe’s GW3 is pretty foolish in my view. I’d be relieved the Lakers won, and not much else. Celebrating that kind of victory is not one championship team’s do. Listening to KB24 blame the Lakers malaise on the holiday’s cracked me up. Funny, funny, funny.
* I still miss Tyreke Evans. Also Kevin Martin. I don’t care if the Lakers are missing Ron Artest either. I just miss watching Tyreke Evans and Kevin Martin play. My babiez all dun grownz up!
I don’t believe in moral victories, or looking for the bright side when things look crappy. I’m proud of the toughness, grit and intensity the Kings as a team showed tonight. I’m upset by the loss in the sense in that it would have been a great win to have, but in my experience these kind of losses tend to effect a team more than a victory in the same realm tends to propel a team towards the victory train consistently. More or less, it’s one loss and tomorrow there is a game where you can give the Dallas Mavericks hell. Because Dallas was sitting in Sac tonight watching the game from their hotel rooms and kicking back, I suppose it may not be an advantage. The Kings play plenty of games against teams on a b2b, and will do so again. Every team has advantages and disadvantages. Tonight, the Lakers got one whale of a push off gift from their franchise player.
Consider the Kings are now 4 games under 500 with the loss, I suppose I can kind of chuckle about Laker fans celebrating this victory tonight. In fact, I think Laker fans are getting soft. It used to be they were afraid of the Purple & Black by saying that putting up a Pacific Division banner was something they don’t do in Lakersland because they use Pacific Division banners for coasters. (Or that’s what one person told me.)
As I say, the Lakers got a long way to greatness. The only reason that 3 ball by Kobe Bryant was even memorable was because of the pushoff and the near miss on the release. Otherwise, pretty ho hum. Enjoy it Laker faithful!
Because this is a Kings blog, I think I’ll leave on a Kings note. Paul Westphal said something interesting his post game comments about learning how to close games like “this”. And, he’s right. Closing games such as this are important to any team anywhere in the league at any time. The Lakers are a good team, and just as important, they are equally savvy as they are talented. Part of the reason this Laker team (and others in the past) have gotten calls they do is because of the purpose they play with. The Lakers as a group know how to work the ref’s. Kobe Bryant won’t apologize because he pushed off. (How many Michael Jordan fans will admit that MJ pushed off on Bryon Russell in 1998? How many people demonize MJ for that? Case closed. Get over it.)
Sometimes it’s not what you do, but when you do it. Dirty tricks, bad calls down the stretch, each side missing key players (although the Kings were missing more), and it came down to a dirty trick. If that isn’t high praise from a 4 time champion in Kobe Bryant, I don’t know what is. Moral victories are boring and they’re trite no doubt. But this happens to be a pretty amusing moral victory I must admit. Usually, last second losses where the Kings lose in pretty godawful fashion is not one I can smile over. Tonight? Totally smiling. I just wish JT & Spence could have been a wrecking crew inside……..
I LOVE MY BABY ROYALS!!!!!