The Los Angeles Lakers knew they had they a difficult task ahead of them to start the 2011-12 season. Never mind the fact that they had to open the season with three games in three days, but when you combine that with a brief and tumultuous lockout-shortened preseason, a new coaching staff and several key injuries, you almost have to feel sorry for them.
But then again, this is the Lakers, and after losing their first two games of the season, you could bet that the rest of the league wasn’t going to award them with any sympathy points for having to be the only team to hit the hardwood three different times in roughly 56 hours.
After a loss to the Chicago Bulls on Christmas Day and another defeat in Sacramento one night later, the Lakers got off to their first 0-2 start since the 2002-03 season. However, the team relied on resiliency and their work ethic to avoid what would have been just the fourth 0-3 start in franchise history with a 96-71 victory over the Utah Jazz on Tuesday night.
Bryant scored 26 points, Pau Gasol added 22 points and nine rebounds and Ron—ahem—Metta World Peace dropped 14 to help the purple and gold capture their first win of the season.
The turning point came in the second quarter when Utah missed 17 of its first 19 shots, while the Lakers made a 13-0 run. They followed that up with 30 third-quarter points to help them cruise to victory.
While the Lakers seemed to be lacking a team identity through the first two games, their worth ethic, epitomized by their leader and captain, was what ultimatley helped them prevail against the Jazz.
“We’re a very active team,” Kobe Bryant said. “This is a blue-collar team. We’re a scrappy bunch. You saw that. We’re going to fight and scratch and claw for everything, as it should be. That’ll get us by.”
While everyone loves a hard-working team, though, the Lakers still need to be better than a “blue-collar” team.