"Holy Toledo!"

March 25, 2008

March Madness: The Lakers & Warriors Way

Filed under: Baskettball — Bill @ 10:18 pm

Say what you will about all the excitement generated from the NCAA tournament. Perhaps the best two basketball games played so far this month were played Sunday & Monday in L.A. & Oakland between the Lakers & Warriors.

Sunday night the Warriors blew a 26 point 3rd quarter lead only to win a thriller on two huge 3 pointers by Stephen Jackson (a.k.a. Stack Jack). His last dagger came from outside the Staple Center zip code somewhere near Anaheim. Just one more example of why Jackson is arguably the Warriors MVP this season, lifting the W’s to their first win against the Lakers in L.A. since the days of Magic Johnson.

Twenty five hours later the two teams met again, this time in Oakland. The Lakers held a big lead until the W’s put on another of their now patented late game rallies outscoring L.A. 10-1 in the final 2 minutes. Into to overtime they went, both squads exhausted, with most of the key figures playing nearly every minute of both games.

With the Warriors leading by 4 late in O.T. Baron Davis tried to hit Monta Ellis on a lob pass but the ball just missed the outstretched fingers of Ellis. The key turnover gave the ball back to L.A. and Derek Fisher buried a 3 pointer to pull L.A. back to within a point. One could argue this was the game changing moment.

Again the W’s failed to convert and again the Lakers hit another 3 pointer, now L.A. led by 2.

With 4 seconds left the Warriors had the ball and a shot to tie or win. Instead the head official determined the outcome of the game when he called an offensive foul on Monta. Upon replay it was clear that Lakers guard Derek Fisher had pulled down Ellis by the shoulder. There was contact by both players no doubt, but given the situation a non-call seemed to make the most sense.

Kobe was quickly fouled, he hit both free throws, and the Lakes won by 4 points (covering the spread interestingly enough). It’s a shame for such a great game to end on an official’s weak call.

When you stop and consider that in less than 28 hours these two teams played two incredibly dramatic and extremely physical games it really gives you an appreciation for how great these athletes are (yes I ended a sentence with a preposition but they deserve it).

In the end it was the Lakers bench that made the difference, perhaps just one reason why they are number one in the West. One can only hope that these two games are an indication of what we have to look forward to in the NBA playoffs.

NBA Playoff Outlook:
Given how hot the Warriors and the (non Alex English speaking) Denver Nuggets have been as of late, combined with rapidly sinking Dallas Mavericks (in part due to the injury to Nowitzki), wouldn’t it be something if Dallas was the odd team out of the NBA West playoff race?
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