By Tamara Latta
Cold shooting has taken the Lakers two steps back. Kobe Bryant’s shot was off most of the night, hitting 6/18 from the field and racking up just 20 points. But his adroit hands were able to hit a 3-pointer with only 16 seconds left to tie the game. Despite that incredible shot, the end wasn’t a fairytale.
After driving to the basket with six seconds left on the clock, the Mamba failed to hold on to the ball and time expired– game over. The Lakers didn’t come out with enough energy to run the Utah Jazz out of their building. Utah snapped an eight-game losing streak after beating the champs 86–85. Turnovers have been problematic for the Lakers, and Bryant addressed those issues in the locker room after the game.
“We have being doing a pretty good job with our turnovers, but unfortunately tonight we didn’t,” Bryant said. “We just have to go to practice and continue to do what we have been doing.”
With their second straight loss, the San Antonio Spurs now have favor, as they lead the Lakers by 3½ games in the Western Conference. With only five games pending for the Lakers, they may have to settle for second place, unless the Spurs have a major setback. The Lakers starters are fatigued and may need to sit out a couple of games to rest up before the playoffs begin. They were on a 17–1 stretch playing hard ball up and down the court, which is probably starting to affect their body parts.
Sunday was another lackadaisical day for the fellas. They hosted the red-hot Denver Nuggets who are playing remarkable basketball. Tip-off was at 12:30pm, and the Lakers didn’t respond well. It came down to the wire, and the game got tough, physical and entertaining, but Denver held on to the lead and beat the Lakers 95–90. Denver Nuggets Martin parlayed off the court after stretching the lead to five. After the game in the locker room, Odom told reporters how he felt about that play.
“Me and Ron have been playing basketball all our life, and we didn’t do a good job of protecting the basket,” Odom said. “We need to communicate better; this is the second time that this has happened to us.”
There’s nothing to worry about– the Lakers will be fine. The only hiccup is that the Lakers helped the Chicago Bulls improve by two games for the second-best record. If they are unable to catch their record and the Bulls and Lakers make it to the finals, the Bulls would have home-court advantage. Boston and Miami are also one game behind the Lakers.