On a technical level, the Lakers, who got out fast in the first quarter to lead 24-8 before finishing the half with an 11-point advantage, put away Sunday night's NBA basketball contest- and I use that term very loosely- against visiting Milwaukee with a strong flurry to end the third. A 13-5 run over the last 2:10 pushed an 11 point lead to 19 and, particularly given that the Bucks had scored all of 46 points after 36 minutes, effectively put the game in the win column for the purple and gold.
All of this should be considered in context, as well, since the Lakers and Bucks combined to set the sport back about five decades, particularly in a first half where they combined to shoot 24-81 from the floor. Take away Andrew Bynum (6-10) and Hakeem Warrick (6-9), and that figure drops to 12-62.
People paid money to watch this, too.
When it was all said and done, the Lakers had a win (final score, 95-77), could take pride in their defense (Milwaukee shot 29.2% through three quarters, and while that included a ton of missed shots, by definition there's some D in there, too), and received some solid performances as well. Andrew Bynum finished with 17 points and 18 boards, a career high on the glass. Lamar Odom had 17 rebounds to go with nine dimes. Off the bench, Jordan Farmar (17/4/3) and Shannon Brown (19/4/3, plus two blocks on one defensive sequence and a mid-court triple to end the third quarter) starred, while Adam Morrison was a +24.
Come Monday morning, though, the number many people will focus on will be four, as in sum total of Kobe Bryant's field goals on the evening, on 21 attempts.
One make was a finish off a steal, another a layup off a slick move in the low post on Charlie Bell, and two were short jumpers. Since he entered the game on a 33-90 slide, it's fair to say nothing that went down Sunday will alleviate fears his injured right index finger is evolving into a larger problem for 24 and the Lakers. One telling moment came late in the first half, when Kobe hoisted a lefty jumper from about 17 feet. It's one thing to see Bryant work the off hand near the basket or to finish on the drive, but when he starts using it for genuine jump shots?
He's likely to say things are fine, that he had open looks and just missed them, that he's just in a slump. (Check back later to see how accurate I was). All of that could be true, by the way.
At this point, will soothing words from Kobe alleviate the growing fears of the local hoops fan base?