Lakers Hold On to Beat Warriors

Are the playoffs here yet? That seems to be the attitude in Los Angeles, at least from the players. With the Lakers just one game behind Cleveland for the best record in the league, and with the team all but assured of being the number one seed out West, L.A. seems to have trouble focusing in these semi-meaningless regular season games. The team continued its recent trend of letting teams rally against them late, but they held on to beat the Warriors by a score of 114-106 at Staples Center.

The Lakers led by as many as 17 points with just under seven minutes remaining in the game, before taking their foot off the gas and allowing the Warriors to come almost all the way back. Golden State put on a 21-7 run to close the Laker lead to just three at 105-102, and had the chance to tie when Kelenna Azubuike missed a three-pointer with just over two minutes remaining in the ball game. Trevor Ariza nailed a three with just over a minute to play to extend L.A.'s lead to six, which effectively sealed it.

Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol led the Lakers with 21 points apiece, but Bryant needed 10 more field goal attempts to get there, thanks to the stellar one-on-one defense from the Warriors' Stephen Jackson. Lamar Odom fought through some early foul trouble to finish with 16 points and 12 rebounds in 29 minutes of action.

As the regular season draws to a close, we can expect to see a lot more minutes for the Lakers' bench players, and that was definitely the case in this one. Jordan Farmar played 25 minutes, and seemed to focus on distributing the ball more than shooting it, as he had seven assists to just four points on four field goal attempts. Luke Walton and Josh Powell played 18 and 16 minutes respectively, but Sasha Vujacic was the one who definitely made the most of his minutes against the Warriors.

Sasha didn't miss a shot all night, and made all four of his field goal attempts while sinking both of his free throws. He finished with 12 points, three rebounds, and two assists in 17 minutes.

L.A. once again blew a big lead late, and let a team that should have been put away much earlier hang around until the end. As we saw on Tuesday, it's a dangerous way to live, especially against talented teams that have more to play for at this point in the season than the Lakers do. But L.A. isn't likely to adjust its mindset before the start of the post-season, so Lakers fans will just have to hope that their team will be able to deliver the knockout blow to their opponents when the time comes.

Whether they'll decide to try to do that before the playoffs start, however, remains to be seen.

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