It’s Los Angeles. We need some drama. Some flair.
The Lakers had plenty of that Tuesday, opening night at Staples Center.
It started with an emotional ring ceremony and ended with a fourth-quarter comeback win. Just the way it was scripted.
The Lakers have seen a lot of ring ceremonies, but this one was different. It was genuine. It started with Phil Jackson speaking and then introducing Luke Walton, saying, “People say Bill might be his dad, but Luke is my son.”
Then one-by-one each player introduced the next. There was Lamar Odom taking about his friend since they were 12 Ron Artest. There was Andrew Bynum calling Pau Gasol the best post player in the game. There was a heartfelt and fun introduction of Kobe Bryant by Derek Fisher.
It was touching. They looked like a team.
Until play started, then the Lakers were reminded how hard it is to get those rings.
Pretty quickly the Lakers were behind. The Rockets speedy point guard Aaron Brooks was tearing up the Lakers, putting up 18 first half points and hitting 4 of 5 from three. His backcourt partner Kevin Martin added 19 in the first half. The pair finished with 50 points on the night combined.
The Rockets were up 15 in the third quarter when the Lakers that earned those rings showed up and took over.
The Lakers got the win Tuesday they way they got so many last season. Los Angeles will get consistently get points from Kobe Bryant (27) and Pau Gasol (29 and 11 rebounds) but it is the other guys that kill you. And every night it’s a different guy.
Or guys. Tuesday it was Shannon Brown and Steve Blake.
Brown spent the summer working on his outside shot, and in the preseason he showed off not only it but also the confidence to use it. A guy who only wanted to get to the rim before no longer fears pulling up for a jumper. Or a three — he was 4-5 from beyond the arc on the night.
The there was Blake, who was tentative in the first half, hesitating on good looks to pass to a man more covered in the post. Then late in the first half he got a wide-open look when his man got picked off on down screen, and Blake nailed the three. The confidence swelled and he played better and more comfortably as the night went on
Blake saved his best for last. With 20 seconds left Bryant drove the lane as Gasol cut with him, so four Rocket defenders crashed the lane. Bryant passed it back right over the head of a confused-looking Gasol to a wide open Steve Blake who buried the dagger three.
It’s like that with the Lakers. Dramatic, but a win. Just like last season.