From The Daily Six Shooter at PlaymakerOnline.com:
When Oklahoma City finally beat the LA Lakers at the Staples Center, Kobe Bryant dismissively asked Kendrick Perkins, “Are you happy about this win?” He asked as if to demean the victory, like the Lakers weren’t trying hard and the loss didn’t mean nearly as much as the win meant for the Thunder. After the Spurs B Team pushed the Lakers to the brink with four key players riding the bench and LA losing Andrew Bynum to an injury because he had to play for a win and not rest his injured knee, I wonder how Kobe would respond if asked…
“Are you happy about that win?”
I was really surprised at the toughness that the undermanned and overmatched Spurs showed in LA last night. It was fun to watch Tim Duncan on the bench so into the game and cheering on his teammates as the Spurs held the lead in the 4th quarter and pushed the Lakers to the brink in the final minutes. It was also somewhat comical to see Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, and the Lakers crowd pumped in the final minutes as the team made one last run to close out the game, as if they were doing it against the full San Antonio Spurs team and not one that resembled a summer league team or the Austin Toros of the NBA Development League.
This was a Lakers team that said that they were going to come out and play with a new determination because two wins would clinch the #2 seed in the West. So either the Lakers will be even more hindered than everyone thought without Andrew Bynum or the Spurs really are the best team in the NBA as a result of last night’s outcome. It’s likely a combination of both, but it’s certainly not the result anyone could have imagined before the game started.
One thing is for certain, Gregg Popovich looks like a genius for sitting his guys while Bynum gets injured and won’t be nearly the same guy he was when the Lakers looked unstoppable.
As for the playoff seeding implications of last night’s game, the Lakers clinched at least the #3 seed and can’t fall down to the 4th spot because of their win over San Antonio. They own the tiebreaker over the Dallas Mavericks for the #2 seed, so they just need a win or a Dallas loss to finish in that 2nd spot.
Meanwhile, Dallas has to beat the New Orleans Hornets tonight and hope Sacramento pulls off an upset when they host the Lakers tonight. It’s a stronger possibility than usual because the Lakers will be without Bynum in the 2nd game of a back-to-back set and it should be an inspired crowd in what could be the final Kings game in Sacramento ever.
Ironically, Jason Terry said that even though a Spurs win would help Dallas last night he wasn’t rooting for the Spurs, but San Antonio is sure rooting for the Mavs against the Hornets. A Hornets loss plus a Memphis Grizzlies win over the LA Clippers would switch their current playoff seedings, dropping New Orleans back down to #8 and bringing Memphis up to #7.
Memphis has given San Antonio fits this season and their size wouldn’t just be trouble for the Spurs, but any first round opponent. The Grizzlies are 9-4 in their last 13 games (should be 10-4 after beating the Clippers) and have lost consecutive games just once since the trade deadline. While there’s something dangerous about nearly every Western Conference team, the one consensus is that everyone would love to play a depleted Hornets team that is without David West. The Spurs have beaten a better New Orleans team in the playoffs in the past and would relish a chance to play them in the first round this year.
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