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Inactives for tonight:
Lakers – D.J. Mbenga, Sun Yue
Nets – Josh Boone, Chris Douglas-Roberts, Eduardo Najera
The inactives get no love. Know what I mean? That’s why I spent some time with Sun Yue the other day, and why I spoke to D.J. in the locker room before the game. A man who speaks seven languages and has traveled all over the world, Mbenga teaches me something I didn’t know on most days, so I thought I’d share with you a brief conversation about his favorite country in Europe:
What does that have to do with tonight’s game, you’re wondering? Nothing. Nothing at all. Don’t worry about it.
Here are your starters:
Lakers: Fish, Kobe, Vladi, Pau and Bynum
Nets: Devin Harris, Vince Carter, Bobby Simmons, Yi Jianlian and Brook Lopez
Two things I’m keeping an eye on right away tonight:
1) Does Radmanovic continue his blistering three-point shooting from the last three games, in which he went 5-of-5 once (at Phoenix) and 4-of-5 Sunday (vs. Sacramento).
2) Does Kobe come out aggressively looking to score as he has against other teams that aren’t fantastic on paper?
3) Will Yi Jianlian be able to do anything defensively with Gasol? Pau’s been eating up defenders in first quarters all year, and Yi isn’t known for bodying up on D.
And your early answers, after six minutes and a 13-12 New Jersey lead:
A) Yes. Vladi buried his only triple attempt right at the 6:00 mark to give L.A. the lead. Radmanovic also grabbed a team-high three boards.
B) Yes. Kobe took L.A.’s first two shots, both contested jumpers from the perimeter, and put up three more in the next few minutes. The only problem was that he missed all five, four of which were perimeter jumpers.
C) Not at all. Gasol got his (and L.A.’s) first bucket in transition after a nice leading pass from Kobe, and his second after simply pushing Yi out of the way for an offensive board.
The Nets came out firing bullets like Peter Vescey in his hoops columns, scoring 12 points in just over three minutes including five points each from Carter and Yi, both of whom hit a three, to give New Jersey a 24-21 lead at the 2:46 mark (when Jackson called a full timeout). Gasol was able to victimize Yi twice more on the defensive end, however, and Bryant broke out of his first-quarter shooting slump with a big jam off the baseline. Rotation-wise, Trevor Ariza, Jordan Farmar and Lamar Odom checked in with Kobe and Pau, which I would have commented more on had I not been distracted by a massive Carl’s Jr. burger on the jumbotron that has me thinking about my route home from STAPLES later. I think if I take the 10W to the 405s to Venice I’ll hit one…
A rather unimpressive first quarter from the Lakers probably wasn’t what the critics were looking for after the rather uninspired early fourth quarter performance on Sunday, particularly since New Jersey managed to shoot 54.2 percent, while the Lakers made just 40.9 percent of their shots (resulting in a 28-24 Jersey lead). Bryant’s 1-of-7 effort came almost exclusively from clanked jumpers, but if you take out his shooting woes the rest of the squad hit at 53 percent. Turnovers weren’t really a problem (four) and the Nets didn’t get to the foul line once, but Lopez had a few really easy looks at the rim (eight points) thanks in part to the penetration of Deven Harris (four assists). Perhaps the main concern for the Lakers heading into tonight’s action was Harris getting into the paint too easily, and it’s probably fair to say that he did just that.
Continue reading ‘Lakers – Nets Running Diary’