Game Notes: Barcelona vs. Lakers
Pete takes the Mickeal out of L.A.
by Matt Ogborn / @mattogborn
Los Angeles Lakers left Europe without a win to their name and their tails between their legs, after two quickfire games in two major cities, and deservedly so.
One thing’s for certain, coach Phil Jackson will be looking for a rapid uptick in form when they face the Kings next week based on another sloppy shooting display in the 92-88 Barcelona defeat.
The crowd came to see Pau and they got over 30 minutes from the home favorite. It wasn’t vintage Gasol — far from it. The jams were flowing, but the hooks and jumpers dried up on his big night.
Thankfully for travel-weary Jackson, his veteran trio of Derek Fisher, Ron Artest and Lamar Odom picked up the purple and yellow slack to stop them from being embarrassed again on away turf.
Kobe logged more minutes in the first half than the whole of his blink-and-you’ll-miss-it London outing. Unsurprisingly his stroke was stuck in neutral; nevertheless, he got more floor time to ease the stiffness out of those priceless knees.
The Tinseltown bench wasn’t as prolific as in the Wolves loss, as Jackson was obviously looking to get his starters on the same page following a training camp disrupted by injury and European obligations.
He will be quietly satisfied that former Portland point Steve Blake, in particular, got more of a feel for the triangle when Fisher needs to put those trusty feet up courtside.
Matt Barnes, Shannon Brown, Sasha Vujacic and Theo Ratliff saw decent minutes, only to come up against a gutsy Regal FC Barcelona outfit preparing to defend their Euroleague crown.
The Lakers struggled with the Juan Carlos Navarro trey barrage, while crowd hero Pete Mickeal tried his best to rack up a triple-double against a team representing the land of his birth.
Wonderkid Ricky Rubio was expected to generate a flash-bulb frenzy. Aside from sparking the highlight-reel move of the night for Barca that ended with a sweet Fran Vazquez dunk, he was near enough anonymous.
Rubio needs to show more than that if he wants to assure the Wolves hierarchy that he can do a consistent job of blitzing NBA defenses, whether it’s alongside Jonny Flynn or not.
Vazquez and Terence Morris quietly impressed for the locals, but it was former NBA draftees Navarro and Mickeal who got the crowd stamping their feet to close out a hard-fought home victory.
So, the Lakers fly back to California with more question marks than positives to muse over. It’s early days, though, and as we all know Jackson’s master plan has contingencies for nights like this.
Hold tight for Matt’s NBA Europe feature next week, where he’ll reflect on David Stern’s standard bearers and what they brought to the table in their latest charm offensive abroad.