How the Short-Handed Los Angeles Lakers Survived Without Kobe Bryant

A 106-100 road win against the now-4-13 Sacramento Kings may not seem like anything worth highlighting, but for these Los Angeles Lakers, this victory might as well be a clarion call for optimism in the City of Angels.

After Friday's fantastic finish, the Lakers sit at 10-9, just a half-game back of the Golden State Warriors for the final spot in the Western Conference playoff picture.

Without Kobe Bryant, who's been working his way back from a torn Achilles. Without Steve Nash, who's been out since mid-November with nerve root irritation in his back. With Jordan Farmar and Chris Kaman joining those two future Hall of Famers among L.A.'s walking wounded.

And as a result, with Steve Blake, Jodie Meeks, Wesley Johnson and Robert Sacre (!!!) starting next to Pau Gasol at Sleep Train Arena.

So how have the Lakers kept their heads above water against the NBA's sixth-toughest schedule, with a league-average offense and a league-average defense?

They are doing it the way Mike D'Antoni-coached teams have always done it: by sharing the ball, running pick-and-rolls ad nauseam, jacking up threes and playing just enough defense to squeak by.

It all begins with a team-wide willingness to share the ball on the offensive end. D'Antoni talks incessantly about the need for the ball to "find energy" on the floor, and the Lakers have thus far obliged. 

According to, 63.2 percent of L.A.'s makes have been assisted—the third-highest mark in the league behind only (if you can believe it) the Atlanta Hawks and the Washington Wizards. The Lakers actually came in under their season average on Friday, with 24 assists on 41 makes coming out to about 58.5 percent.

Just as importantly, the Lakers took care of the ball, as they have all season. They tallied just 12 turnovers on the night, with just three coming after halftime.

That deg...

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