Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers took it upon himself to share the ball and break the Lakers' four-game losing streak against the Utah Jazz on Friday night at Staples Center.
On Friday night, the Lakers snapped their four-game losing streak by beating a Utah Jazz team that had won four games in a row.
Seemingly everything went right for the struggling Lakers: Kobe Bryant nearly recorded a triple double, Dwight Howard played well on both ends of the floor, Metta World Peace shot well from behind the arc, Pau Gasol played a complete game off the bench, and Steve Nash took more shots than Kobe Bryant.
The Lakers achieved offensive balance with all five of their best players—Nash, Gasol, Howard, Bryant, and World Peace—scoring in double figures, but no one on the team, including Bryant, scored 20 points. Bryant was actually the fifth leading scorer on the team at the final buzzer.
Ultimately, the Lakers won 102-84, and Bryant’s 14 points, 14 assists, and nine rebounds deservedly stole the headlines.
However, the Lakers’ effective use of their height advantage was the hidden gem on Friday night. The Lakers’ 45-30 rebounding advantage helped the team overcome 18 turnovers on the night, and their pronounced size advantage helped keep Utah off the boards.
Prior to the game, Coach Mike D’Antoni said he was not a fan of having both Gasol and Howard on the court at the same time, but both players played effectively in tandem and shot a good percentage.
The Laker’s twin towers shot a combined 15-20 for 32 points and 20 rebounds. More importantly, they looked comfortable on the floor together. In the first half, Gasol and Howard were a net plus-six points on the floor together. At the start of the fourth quarter, they took a nine point lead and extended it to 18 points for a net plus-nine points in the final quarter.
The combination of Gasol and Howard helped the Lakers establish a lead in the first half and were vital in putting the game away in the fourth quarter.
The Lakers still have the potential to tap into a matchup advantage that gives opposing teams nightmares. Size may not be ideal for the Lakers’ coach, but size can win championships, so it should be good enough to make the playoffs.