The Lakers had the toughest three-game stretch of their season the past six days, matching up against the always dangerous San Antonio Spurs, the hot Orlando Magic, and the unstoppable Cleveland Cavaliers.
The first game against the Spurs was, perhaps, their toughest, as it was on the road and the second game in a back-to-back. Yet the game was close and down to the wire, with the Lakers up by two with less than a minute. However, San Antonio's newest big shot baller, Roger Mason, who scored 18 points it total, hit the most crucial three by draining a jumper while getting fouled by Derek Fisher. The bucket tied the game and the subsequent free throw put the Spurs up by 1. On the final possession, Kobe Bryant passed to a cutting Trevor Ariza who got whistled for traveling when his feet got tangled up with a Spurs players.
On Friday, the Lakers returned home to face off against the Magic, whose 31-8 record was certainly on par with the Lakers (31-7). Dwight Howard had a monster game, netting 25 points, pulling down 20 boards, and blocking three shots. Jameer Nelson helped ice the game with 15 fourth quarter points. The Lakers didn't keep this game as close as they did in the Spurs game two nights before, and ended up losing 109-103.
Last night the Lakers welcomed another Eastern Conference power, this time winning in style, 105-88. This game had a scary moment - Kobe Bryant dislocated the ring finger on his shooting hand in the 2nd quarter. The trainer re-located it and Bryant returned to action, albeit clearly playing in pain. The good news is that the X-rays were negative, there was no fracture. In aftergame comments Bryant noted that this was the greatest amount of pain he's ever played in, but that he doesn't expect to miss Wednesday's "away game" against the Los Angeles Clippers.
As it stands, the Lakers are curretly sitting atop the Western Conference at 32-8, five games ahead of their nearest competition. Unfortunately, the wear and tear of the season is starting to impact this squad. Kobe's finger aside, the Lakers have had Lamar Odom in and out of the lineup as of late. And backups Jordan Farmar and Luke Walton have been beseiged by injuries, as well. Hopefully the Lakers can continue to avoid any major injuries, like Andrew Bynum's season-ending injury last January, or Ariza's broken foot, which took him out the majority of the regular season.