Good win for the Lakers tonight. Coming off that grueling four-game swing through Houston, Dallas, New Orleans and Houston, this would’ve been an easy game to lose focus and lose to a lesser opponent. But the Lakers got off to another fast start and put Seattle away by the end of the third quarter to keep their one game lead on Houston and New Orleans.
Here’s the story:
By Ramona Shelburne
And better yet, Thank God It’s the Sonics.
After a grueling four-game, seven-day roadtrip through Utah, Dallas, Houston and New Orleans the Lakers returned home to the Staples Center Friday night and got a little reward from the NBA’s schedule-makers.
With their legs still a bit weary, and the intensity dialed down a bit from the playoff atmosphere that greeted them at every stop along this past trip, the Lakers managed to summon just enough energy to dispatch the hapless Sonics 130-105 to complete a sweep of the season series with Seattle for the first time in 18 years.
And this time, Kobe Bryant didn’t have to do it all.
The Lakers (48-21) dished out a season-high 36 assists Friday night, and eight players scored in double figures as the Lakers maintained their one-game lead over Houston and New Orleans atop the Western Conference standings, despite being without Pau Gasol (ankle) for the fourth consecutive game.
“We’ve been playing together for a long time, so I think our ball movement and our passing ability is second to none in the league,” Bryant said. “We’ve all been on board (with the triangle offense) since day one.
“But then you add Pau Gasol to the mix, with his passing ability, and it makes us a very dangerous team,”
Dangerous enough to be considered frontrunners in the tightly-bunched Western Conference?
“I certainly like our chances,” Bryant said. “I think the size we have, and the versatility we have makes teams have to adjust to us, and the way we play.”