(Courtesy: L.A. Times)
Shannon, Shannon, Shannon! This guy was passed over by Cleveland, Chicago and Charlotte before being a throw-in in that Adam Morrison deal that brought him to the Lakers 2 1/2 seasons. But look what kind of a player he’s becoming. All that hard work and always believing in himself are starting to pay off for him. Shannon Brown took over for Lamar Odom (who sat out with an injured thumb) in the starting lineup and became the one who gave his team a chance to win the game by hitting the 3-pointer that sent the game into overtime against the stunned Golden State Warriors. Kobe Bryant and Ron Artest took over from there and sent the frenzied crowd at Citizens Business Bank Arena celebrating a 105-102 victory by their beloved Lakers.
Brown always had the confidence. But, being a role player in a dynasty and playing behind the game’s greatest player today will take its toll on even the most seasoned veteran, let alone a former benchwarmer that never got to call any city in the NBA his home. Well, it’s safe to say the Lakers is his home now.
The Lakers survived a 41-point onslaught by Monta Ellis, who played every minute of the game. Ellis was hitting from everywhere and scored his first 27 points in the 1st quarter catapulting the Warriors to a 32-20 advantage at the end of the first 12 minutes. But, when his team needed his offense most he puts up a 1-for-10 peformance in the 4th quarter and overtime combined. And this guy expressed his displeasure of the Warriors drafting shooting phenom Stephen Curry (who didn’t play due to a sprained right ankle) because he wants to be the lone go-to guy for his team? Just because you can score doesn’t mean you can lead a team.
Golden State was in the driver’s seat for much of the game until the Lakers pulled a late 9-0 rally in the 4th quarter behind Kobe and Artest before Brown gave Bryant his biggest assist of the night for the go-ahead 3. In fact, the Lakers would’ve probably lost this game without Artest and Brown’s aggressiveness and clutch shooting.
Shannon finished behind Kobe’s team-high 22 points with 18 of his own while chipping in 2 steals on defense. Artest, who iced it with a fadeaway over David Lee with only 11.2 second left in overtime for the Lakers, ended the game with 11 points and 7 boards. But, Ron was also a major force on defense racking up game-highs of 5 steals and 2 blocks. As for Kobe, he looked like he’s ready for the regular season showing no signs of his knee injury. That’s great news for the Lakers. Bad news for the rest of the league.
The Lakers’ inability to control the Warriors for most of the game was due in large from their continuing problems on defense. Guard penetrations, poor support by their interior defense and sporadic stops on pick-and-rolls have all been the biggest concerns for Phil Jackson and the coaching staff since training camp opened. These happens to be the very things that plagued the Lakers last season not because they’re incapable of doing but are the results of their lackadaisic approach to the regular season in order to save themselves for the playoffs for years now.
As I’ve brought up before, Phil is dead serious about not allowing his players get on that old bad habit this season because of the hightened difficulty of winning a third title in a row and the kind of new challenges that await them from both conferences. We’ll see if the Lakers finally response to this old mantra soon enough.
On a positive note, the Lakers did what they wanted to do which is to conclude pre-season with some kind of momentum and rhythm heading into the regular season by winning their last two exhibition games. But, don’t expect the Lakers to suddenly play like gangbusters early. Even champs need time to get in full motion, especially with new role players in tow.
Speaking of new players, I really enjoyed watching all of the new faces for the Lakers in this pre-season. Steve Blake is going to be a major cog as a bench player or a starter. I can’t say enough about how well this guy just remembers to play his position at all times and how effectively he goes about his business. Matt Barnes will be a major headache for the opposing team and has lived up so far to what a lot of people are calling the third member of the three-headed monster on defense with him, Bryant and Artest. Theo Ratliff is a great example of a true professional and a true athlete. This guy is 37 years-old yet he plays like he’s still 27. Devin Ebanks has a lot of promise. You just can’t help but like his enthusiasm on the floor and willingness to do whatever it takes to be a major part of this Laker team. Derrick Caracter has got some explosive but raw talent. If he can harness that energy into something efficient yet potent sometime within the next 2 or 3 seasons, I think we’re looking at one of the future core players for the Lakers.
See you all on Tuesday!
NEXT GAME: Tuesday, Oct. 26th vs. Houston Rockets at 7:30 p.m. (PST) at Staples Center. TV: TNT Radio: 710/1330 AM ESPN
Injury Notes: Luke Walton re-injured his right hamstring in the first half and never returned. He’s listed as questionnable for opening night on Tuesday. Theo Ratliff sat out Friday’s game against the Warriors because of a sore left knee.
Here’s the latest “The Machine” video from Lakers-Fan.com: