Then suddenly, as if they had downed a couple of Red Bulls, the Lakers roared back with an energetic 24-6 run to take the lead and cruised from there, ending in a 114-102 win in the City of Brotherly Love.
That’s not to say it was be all pretty. The Lakers defense was intense during the first quarter run that gave them the lead, then at other points throughout the game they looked like a team that crashed when the caffeine wore off.
Still, through the spotty effort, they kept their focus on shutting down the Sixers key off-season acquisition Elton Brand, keeping him effectively and literally out of the game. Brand was 1 for 7 from the floor for the first three quarters and was largely useless, and he sat out the fourth. After the game it was reported Brand had a right hamstring injury.
Kobe Bryant seems to have won over his home town, or at least some of them. He was booed again as he has been in the past — including during an All Star game but by the end he also heard the familiar “M-V-P” chant as he dropped 32 points on 12 of 20 shooting, as well as hitting all seven free throws.
In fact, as the game wore on, it sounded more and more like a Lakers crowd in Philly, continuing a trend from around the league.
Phil Jackson still has a few things to chew on his team for in the film room, primarily on the defensive end — the Sixers shot 49% for the game and grabbed one more rebound than the Lakers on the night. But as bad as the Lakers defense was at points, it was far better than the Sixers. The Lakers shot 58% on the night and 46% from three. Do that and you win a lot of games easily.