The Lakers desperately needed a win last night, and in order for them to get one, they decided to change their roles. In the last few weeks, Kobe Bryant had been the dominant scorer, Steve Nash was the facilitator, Dwight Howard was the nice role player, and Pau Gasol was a virtual no show. After a team meeting, the Lakers decided to do something about it and play with a purpose and with passion.
Kobe Bryant took over as the main facilitator in Mike D’Antoni’s offense. Dwight Howard started the game off as the focus. They got him the ball early and often, as he scored eight points in the first quarter. Steve Nash was mainly playing off the ball, spotting up, and when he did get the ball, he drove to the basket for floaters. And, finally, Pau Gasol seemed to accept his sixth man role and played aggressively, scoring 15 points on 7-8 shooting.
The biggest surprise wasn’t a Lakers win, but how their star player carried them to a 102-84 victory. Kobe Bryant, who we had seen shoot 7-22 or worse over the last several games, only took 10 shots. He was a very efficient 7-10 en route to 14 points. Why is that surprising? Because for the first time in, maybe his entire career, Bryant had as many assists as he did points. Kobe put up 14 assists and came one rebound away from a triple double.
According to ESPN Los Angeles, the man who has made a career out of getting 14 assists a game, Steve Nash, was most impressed by Kobe’s numbers and even described his performance as “brilliant” to reporters after the game.
“Setting the table for Dwight and getting the team going,” Nash said after the game. “Dwight was obviously finishing and a big presence defensively. Those are our two big guns and when they are symbiotic like that we are a special team. I know it’s hard to sustain, but we looked like a real good squad.”
It couldn’t have gone any better for the Lakers last night, but we’ll have to wait and see if they use this same winning formula Sunday against the Thunder.