All right, Los Angeles Lakers fans,139 points and three overtimes later, now you can breathe after an unbelievable game against the Phoenix Suns.
There is no question now that the two-time defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers are officially in playoff mode. Even though a lot of people started to doubt this team heading into the All-Star break and some Lakers fan got nervous with the second loss to the Miami Heat, five straight wins later, Kobe Bryant and company are the team to beat once again.
This game could be a preview of things to come as the playoff atmosphere was all over the Staples Center on Tuesday night as the Phoenix Suns took the Los Angeles Lakers into three overtime periods. With the Suns fighting for their playoff lives and the Lakers aiming for the second seed in the Western Conference, this game was a battle from start to finish.
Fortunately, despite the Suns not giving up an inch towards the end of this game, the Lakers were able to prevail and win their fifth straight game as the defending champs had to earn their paychecks against Phoenix, 139-135. These two division rivals always put on a show when they go head-to-head, but this one was like playoff game as both teams were playing like the season was on the line and it was a win or go home.
Obviously, there is a still a lot of basketball to be played as the Los Angeles Lakers have ten games left in the NBA regular season, but they are looking really good right now as everyone seems to be firing on all cylinders. There has been a lot of concern about Kobe Bryant’s recent injuries (ankle, neck and shoulder), but he really stepped it up against the division rival Phoenix Suns on Tuesday night as he has gotten his shooting touch back.
Even though Kobe is by no means 100% right now and might not be for the rest of the season, the Black Mamba is fighting through the pain and leading his team to victory once again. As if the four wins prior to this game weren’t impressive enough, especially the win over the Portland Trail Blazers without Andrew Bynum (suspension), the Los Angeles Lakers showed how good they can be offensively and in the clutch against the Phoenix Suns.
The defense was somewhat off and on for the Lakers Tuesday night as two-time NBA MVP Steve Nash had a big night with 19 points and got everyone on the Suns involved with game-high 20 assists. Along with Nash being a matchup nightmare for the Lakers, Channing Frye (32 points, 14 rebounds) and Marcin Gortat (24 points, 16 rebounds) also had a big games with 56 points and 30 rebounds combined.
As for the Lakers, it was Kobe Bryant leading the way with a game-high 42 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists in the highest scoring NBA game of the season (274 total points). Lamar Odom had a huge game with 29 points and 16 rebounds as the sixth man continues to step it up in Andrew Bynum’s absence. Pau Gasol also was a big contributor with 24 points and 13 rebounds of his own; Ron Artest was also key with 18 points, five boards and three steals.
The one thing that can be taken from this game is that teams around the league are starting to step it up and play playoff caliber basketball as every game from here on out will be a dogfight for the defending champs. This was yet another close game for the Lakeshow, but they are being tested at just the right time in order to get ready to defend their title in the final stretch of the NBA season.
Next Lakers Game: Los Angeles Clippers @ Los Angeles Lakers Fri. March 25, 2011 7:30 p.m. EST
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