The Lakers surprisingly handled the Jazz on Friday night, 102-84. I know that seems weird to say but the way the Lakers have been playing this season, any victory over a good team like the Jazz is a surprise these days.
Kobe Bryant thinks it was something that they did that spurred the Lakers to play this way
From the AP report via ESPN:
Kobe Bryant suggested “our closed-door meeting that everyone seems to know about” had something to do with the victory.
“It’s a relief, especially against a team that’s handled us pretty well,” he said. “We made shots and that makes the game a lot easier. It’s not about showing we’ve turned the corner. It’s about doing it.”
I’m not too sure that I agree that their meeting behind closed doors pushed them to play well. The meeting happened on Wednesday when Kobe Bryant supposedly called out Dwight Howard. That same night, the Lakers looked lethargic as ever in their loss against Memphis. They would also lose Dwight in that game due to re-aggravating his shoulder injury.
However, they looked completely different on Friday night. The Lakers were distributing the ball. There was a lot of communication between the players on the court that seemed to be missing throughout the season. Kobe Bryant was fantastic as a facilitator. Dwight Howard somehow looked active and engaged. Steve Nash was more aggressive offensively and Pau Gasol even looked like his old self. Gasol playing a couple of hi-los with Dwight was something we had all envisioned early in the season. More importantly, they were playing some excellent defense. Whether it really was that team meeting that made them play well or whether they decided to play on their own (because while they passed the ball around, it didn’t have too many remnants of D’Antoni’s offense), they looked really, really good on Friday night. It certainly was encouraging.
They’ll have to do it for a few straight games to make everyone else believe in the team again. One win is nice but that could easily be doused if they go on a losing streak once again. At 18-25, they have little to no room for error. But if Kobe Bryant thinks that team meeting really made them play well, maybe they should go at it some more and have more team meetings.
It doesn’t get easier for the Lakers as they play the Thunder at home on Sunday. Oklahoma City blew out the Lakers in embarrassing fashion two weeks ago and the Lakers look to avenge that on the weekend.