Welcome to another edition of “What Happened Last Night?” You know the deal by now. And if you don’t, we’re sure you’ll figure it out. You’re smart. Here goes.
The Packers did just enough.
Pretty much as soon as time expired in the Packers’ 27-20 win over the Lions last night, Aaron Rodgers talked about how ugly the win was. He wasn’t the only one. But he also made sure to say that an ugly win is a lot better than losing a game, and surely every Packers fan is on board with that after a night that left the Pack one win from a division title. The snowy conditions were less than ideal for the type of high-powered offensive game both teams are capable of producing – Rodgers attempted just 24 passes, completing 14 for 173 yards – but the Pack did enough.
One reason they did enough: inopportune turnovers by the other guys. The Lions had two in the first half – one of which, a Matthew Stafford fumble, directly led to a touchdown – so despite dominating the half yardage- and time-of-possession-wise (they outgained Green Bay 386-288 on the night), they led just 14-10 at the break. But give the Packers credit, too: they made plays. Plays like a 27-yard touchdown run by Rodgers, the longest scoring scamper of his career, that started as a near-sack. And though the Lions had some success moving the ball at times, the Packer defense deserves some plaudits for holding them to those two second-half field goals… and keeping Calvin Johnson out of the end zone all game.
Speaking of Johnson: he had 10 catches last night (on 13 targets) for 118 yards. That now qualifies as holding him in check. He’s not bad.
The Lakers, once again, didn’t do enough.
Yeah, there’s still a lot of season left. Yeah, they still need to get Steve Nash back to be at full strength. Yeah, Pau Gasol’s out right now too. Yeah, they’ve gone through a coaching change. But with each game that goes by without the Lakers figuring it out, each excuse rings more hollow. Following a 117-110 home loss to the Jazz (who were 3-9 on the road before last night), the Lakers are 9-12. That’s over a quarter of the season that’s gone by, and the Lakers don’t look much closer to being the kind of team that was expected of them than they did during that 1-4 start that got Mike Brown fired.
And about Nash’s eventual return: sure, he’ll be a huge upgrade over what the Lakers have now, he’s an ideal fit for Mike D’Antoni’s style, etc. But last night, the Lakers allowed 117 points on 54 percent shooting. Clearly this team has some work to do on the defensive side of the ball – and while Nash brings many things to a team, “defensive improvement” isn’t generally thought to be one of them. Maybe it’s not time for Laker fans to panic yet… but it’s past time for some concern.
Around the Association…
The other L.A. team fared much better, as the Clippers beat the Raptors 102-83. On the other side of the country, the other city with two teams was also 1-for-2, as the Knicks topped the Nuggets 112-106 (remaining unbeaten at home), but the Nets fell 97-88 to the Bucks. Finally, the tied-for-NBA-best Thunder won their eighth straight, 104-93 over the Pacers, and the Magic dealt the Suns their seventh straight loss, 98-90. Again, the Lakers: 9-12. The Dwight-Howard-less Magic: 8-12. Something worth keeping an eye on – as is, once again, the job Jacque Vaughn is doing with a Magic team that looked doomed to one of the NBA’s worst records before the season began.
The holiday season is here…
…but it’s Monday. Get to work.
Photos via Getty