1. The Lakers closed out properly against the Clippers. OK, so maybe it's frustrating the Lakers coughed up a 12-point lead. So what else is new. But they demonstrated how experience pays off over the Clippers mainly by closing out in appropriate fashion. Kobe Bryant's jumper gave the Lakers a 105-104 lead with 2:58 remaining. Metta World Peace's swipe on the next possession ensured the advantage. Ramon Sessions punished the Clippers for doubling up on everyone else, as he extended the lead to 108-104 with 47.4 seconds left. The Clippers may have briefly felt in the game after Chris Paul's runner. But Bryant's 21-footer with 24.5 seconds left completely derailed the Clippers' confidence.
As a result, the Lakers hold a 2 1/2 game lead over the Clippers for third place in the Western Conference and take the series lead.
2. Andrew Bynum showed aggressiveness on offense. It remains to be seen whether Bynum will shape up his behavior. But he minimized any worries surrounding his sprained left ankle by posting 36 points on 13-of-20 shooting and rebounds. Bynum hardly wasted time showing his aggressiveness and energetic movement by scoring the team's first seven points. He chased down his own miss, dribbled through his legs and then finished at the basket. Bynum then pump faked en route to an easy layup. And then he finished with an And-1 after quickly running to the post in transition.
Bynum remained unstoppable mostly because he rarely gave the Clippers much time to react to double teams. Of course, Bynum could've used that same aggressiveness on defense. But at least Bynum's three-pointer came at the end of the third quarter.
3. Kobe Bryant played efficiently despite a poor left shin. He may have played his fourth game in five nights. He may had been limping at halftime because of discomfort in his shin. He may have worn a shin guard the second consecutive game. He had kinesio tape covering his shin before the game. But that hardly mattered. Bryant scored 31 points on 13-of-19 shooting by looking for high percentage shots. He shot 14 of his 16 attempts below the free throw line. Bryant used his efficient footwork to create space on postups. His release on turnarounds and pull-ups appeared fundamentally strong. Lastly, Bryant's back-to-the-basket effectiveness and height advantage over Randy Foye made it an efficient night for the Black Mamba.
4. Blake Griffin beat up on Pau Gasol, but it had no affect on the outcome. The Spaniard is about to appear in a few posters that hardly cast him in a good light. First came Griffin's putback dunk by using Gasol as his personal Kia. Second came Griffin dunking over Gasol by used his left forearm to push his moppy head out of the way. Third came Griffin's push from behind for a rebound. Fourth came Griffin's open dunk in the lane after Gasol doubled Chris Paul on a pick-and-roll.
Despite all of Griffin's demonstrative antics, Gasol stayed firm. He blocked Griffin's shot that then resulted in a traveling call, holding the Lakers' lead at 98-96 with 6:12 left. He then followed with a tip-in a few possessions later to give the Lakers a two-point lead.
It may have been embarrassing for Gasol. But it's good for the Lakers that they didn't react with frustration over it.
5. Steve Blake continues to struggle, but it's not entirely his fault. With the Lakers lacking a definitive backup shooting guard, Brown played Blake alongside Ramon Sessions, which hardly accomplished much. Sure, it reduced Bryant's minutes (34), but the role is also putting Blake in a position to fail since he's not really well equipped to defend speedy backcourt players.
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