Thursday, April 3, 2008

Lake Show gets Gasoled Up!

For the better part of three weeks, the Los Angeles Lakers have been sputtering both offensively and on defense. Without all-star forward Pau Gasol, the "Lake Show" was only 5-4, and had failed to limit any opponent to under 100 points. Last night, Gasol returned to raucous cheers at Staples Center as the Lakers battled the Portland Trailblazers.

For a half, the Blazers kept things interesting, hitting a barrage of 3-points to manage a 50-50 tie. Gasol looked a little rusty offensively, but his defensive presence really became evident in the second half, as the Lakers limited Portland to only 13 points in the third quarter. The Lakers went into the fourth quarter with a 10 point lead and extended it to 86-68 with 7:37 to play on a Kobe Bryant three pointer. The Blazers rallied over the next 2:45, going on a 13-2 run to trim the Laker margin to seven. Kobe single-handedly doubled that margin and put the game away over the next 50 seconds, connecting on consecutive three point shots, converting the the latter into a four point play after being fouled. From there, the Lakers cruised to a 104-91 victory.

Kobe finished the game with a double-double, scoring 36 points and grabbing 13 rebounds to go with seven assists. Coach Phil Jackson wanted to limit Gasol to 25 minutes, but he played 32 instead... Pau's 10 point, seven assist, six rebound effort was a good one considering he hadn't played in so long. The other three starters along with Jordan Farmar also tallied double-digit points. With the win, the Lakers extended their lead to a game over Phoenix in the Western division and remain the 3-seed in the conference, 1 1/2 games behind the New Orleans Hornets. On Friday night they take on the Dallas Mavericks at Staples and hope to build on their two game winning streak. All I know is it's nice to have Gasol back, as for the first time in quite a while the Lakers team looked confident in everything they were doing on the floor. When they get Andruw Bynum back, there's no telling just how good they are going to be!


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