04/26/2007 - 23:58
Off the Ropes
The Lakers needed a huge game out of LO on Thursday night, and they got it, as No. 7 and No. 24 led Los Angeles to a thrilling 95-89 victory over the Phoenix Suns.
A game ago, the Lakers were all but buried to everyone. Now, down 2-1 in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs, Los Angeles has a chance to turn this into a series.
What was remarkable about the win was how awfully the Purple and Gold started the game. Down by 17 points in the first quarter, every person in attendance, on radio and on television seemed to expect the Lakers to roll over and let their season end. Their leaders wouldn't let them.
"For the first time in a long time," said LO, "we took somebody's best punch and came out swinging."
Kobe Bryant put up 45 points in 45 minutes, all the while playing quality defense that cooled off Phoenix's Leandro Barbosa. Kwame Brown, a non-factor through the first two contests, turned in a monster game, scoring 19 points and dominating the Suns in the post.
LO was sensational. Grabbing a game-high 16 boards to go with 18 points and two blocks, Lamar led by example for all 46 minutes he played, diving for loose balls, knocking down timely threes, dropping off key passes and taking the ball to the bucket when the Lakers needed it most.
That's what leaders do. As the Los Angeles Times reported:
It had been a trying few days before the game, with Odom wondering aloud about the team's camaraderie and Bryant acknowledging his frustration.
It was enough for Jackson to call a meeting Wednesday and write on the board the words "Crying" and "Whining."
He said he had heard enough from other sources about the Lakers' public sniping to warrant a team get-together.
Jackson did the speaking — pointing out that only losing teams point fingers at each other — and the players did the listening. Then they went out a day later and outgunned the Suns.
A momentum-changing win later, Sunday's Game 4 becomes that much more meaningful.
"The series starts now," said Lamar. "We need to continue to play with that intensity and that tenacity."
Lakers/Suns Recap (April 27, 2007, AP)
These Lakers Can Dig It (April 27, 2007, Los Angeles Times)
Lakers Make Big Stand Against Suns on Sore Ankles (April 27, 2007, Press Enterprise)
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