A Look Ahead: The Lakers Forecast Shows Thunder
The Los Angeles Lakers appear to have a new identity with the addition of guard Ramon Sessions. He has made them an exciting team to watch.
Since the Lakers traded for Cleveland point guard Ramon Sessions on the day of the NBA trade deadline, their style of play has changed drastically from a slow, power offense that struggles with their outside shooting, to a team that can push the ball up the court and attack the rim from the point guard position. Sessions’ ability to drive to the basket and constantly knock down outside shots is a piece of the puzzle the Lakers have been missing for quite some time. With the way the game of basketball has swung from a center-dominated sport, to a point guard-dominating world, the Lakers have found a key component to compete for a championship.
Despite being 3-2 since Sessions joined the team, the energy and play of the Lakers is at an all-time high. They are playing with a newfound confidence because they finally have a new weapon in their arsenal.
Last week sadly started off with yet another infamous Laker road game giveaway to the Houston Rockets. Leading and controlling most of the game, the Lakers did what they do best and allowed the Rockets to claw their way to the lead late in the game when Goran Dragic knocked down a corner 3-pointer with 28 seconds left that helped them secure a 107-104 lead. Dragic had 10 points in the fourth quarter and the Lakers surrendered a 12-0 run late in the game that was too much to overcome.
Everything seemed to go south for the Lakers after their 42-point first quarter. They scored only 16 in the second, and were out-scored by 10 in the fourth. Andrew Bynum had 16 points and seven rebounds but was ejected towards the end of the third when he received his second technical foul for mouthing off at one of the referees. The Lakers were out-muscled and out-jumped for rebounds in the fourth without the presence of Bynum. Kobe Bryant led all scorers with 29, Pau Gasol put in 21, and Sessions had 14 points and four assists off the bench.
Last Wednesday night the Lakers took on the defending NBA Champions Dallas Mavericks on national television. It was a road back-to-back game for a team that struggles in this situation, but they came up from the tip determined and focused for 48 minutes. Kobe Bryant had one of his best shooting nights scoring 30 points on 11-18 from the floor and 7-7 from the free throw line. Gasol added 27 points and nine rebounds, while Sessions had 17 points and nine assists. Lakers coach Mike Brown was quoted after the game saying, “The kid Sessions made the game easy for everybody. He had a very good all-around game. You can see how his speed can help us, his ability to … turn the corner and get into the teeth of the defense.” L.A showed that when they are determined to play a game, when they want to beat a good team, they have the focus, determination, skill, and fire power to beat just about everyone in the league.
After Dallas the Lakers had a day off to return home and get prepared for a stingy Portland Trail Blazers team. However, the Lakers prevailed behind the play of Andrew Bynum and Ramon Sessions. Bynum was one rebound shy of a double-double with a Laker-high 28 points and nine rebounds, while Sessions had his double-double with 20 points and 11 assists in his very first start as a Laker. The part of his game that teammate Kobe Bryant likes the most is his ability to create opportunities, not just for himself but also for everyone else. As a result of Sessions’ skill level, all five Lakers starters scored double-digit points in their 103-96 victory over the Blazers.
The Lakers were not so fortunate Sunday night against the Memphis Grizzlies. The pressure defense the Grizzlies applied all night bothered the Lakers by disrupting their offensive flow. They were unable to comfortably get into their set, and when they did, the Grizzlies used their physicality and speed to double the ball and recover to the open man. The Lakers found themselves down by as many as 14 in the third quarter, but were able to grab a one-point lead on a Sessions three. Memphis called a timeout and immediately grabbed the lead back. They scored six straight to go up by five and never lost the lead again. OJ Mayo was a huge spark off the bench for Memphis, scoring 16 points and hitting two timely three-pointers. Pau struggled to find his shot all game, shooting 4-15 with 16 points. Kobe and Sessions put in 18 a piece and Andrew Bynum led all scorers with 30 points. In the end, the pressure defense of the Grizzlies was too much for the Lakers to handle as they fell 102-96.
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