Tomorrow’s notebook today …
The Lakers squandered a 15-point lead over the Clippers before holding on to win 113-108 on Wednesday night at Staples Center. They frittered away a 17-point lead over the New Jersey Nets before winning 91-87 on Tuesday.
They lost almost all of a 15-point lead to the Golden State Warriors before winning 120-112 on Sunday. They lost a 14-point lead to the New Orleans Hornets before rallying from a 10-point deficit to win 88-85 on Saturday.
Some four-game winning streak, huh?
If he was troubled by their recent method of operation, superstar guard Kobe Bryant wasn’t about to say so publicly after their second victory in three games this season against the Clippers. Bryant was calm, cool and collected.
“We’re a veteran group,” he said. “We’ve seen it all. This group here has been down 13 points in Game 7 of the Finals (and rallied to win the decisive game in 2010 against the Boston Celtics). There’s not much we flinch at.”
Certainly, close games are nothing new for the Lakers, who set the tone for the season by coughing up a late 11-point lead during an opening-day loss to the Chicago Bulls on Christmas Day. Double-digit wins have been few and far between.
Coach Mike Brown also didn’t seem concerned about it late Wednesday night. Giving up leads is one thing, but giving away leads and then games is another. Only one of the two happened in the fourth quarter against the Clippers.
“Kobe kept the guys focused in the huddle (during timeouts), too,” Brown said. “That was kind of fun to sit back and watch Kobe talk to those guys and keep those guys’ heads in the right spots in the course of the game, especially late.”
Whole new ballgame
The addition of point guard Ramon Sessions has given the Lakers a new look, one opponents are struggling to wrap their heads around, according to Bryant. Sessions is averaging 14 points and 7.3 assists since the Lakers traded for him March 15.
“It’s getting to the point where it’s tough to match up with us,” Bryant said. “It’s tough for defenses to really decide what we’re going to do. (Sessions) can really play. He’s got a lot of talent. He doesn’t flinch at all.”
Sessions had 16 points, six rebounds and eight assists against the Clippers.
Bryant wore a walking boot after the game to protect his sore left shin. He also wore a protective guard on his leg during Wednesday’s game against the Clippers and also Tuesday against the Nets. He dismissed the boot as a “fashion statement.”
Bryant scored 31 points on 13-for-19 shooting, so you know he’s OK.
Metta World Peace revealed he has been playing with a sore ankle since injuring himself during the Lakers’ loss last week to the Oklahoma City Thunder. It didn’t appear to slow him down during the game against the Clippers, however.
MWP (the former Ron Artest) had a key steal from Chris Paul and an eye-popping dunk in the fourth quarter Wednesday.
The Lakers moved a season-best 15 games over .500 when they defeated the Clippers and improved to 35-20. They are firmly entrenched in third place in the Western Conference, leading the fourth-place Clippers by 2 1/2 games going into Thursday’s play.
Can they catch the second-place San Antonio Spurs (38-14) before the playoffs start later this month? The Lakers haven’t played against the Spurs yet this season, but face them three times in the final three weeks.
“We have no shot at getting second,” Bryant joked. “It’s a daunting task.”