Of paramount importance in L.A.’s sixth straight win Sunday at STAPLES Center was a terrific defensive second half in which the visiting Blazers managed just 36 points as the Lakers jumped on top of Boston in the NBA’s league-wide standings.
When evaluating basketball games after the fact, statistics can either tell the whole story like a Shakespeare play, or do absolutely no justice to the outcome, like in a reality show such as American Idol (the grey-haired dude had the most votes? Really?).
The Lakers 27th win, however, qualifies in the former category. Take a look:
Assist by the Lakers in a first quarter that saw them shoot only 11 shots. Derek Fisher notched the lone dime, while the team turned the ball over nine times but managed to trail by just six, 25-19.
Also, the number of lead changes in the entire game, which occurred with Trevor Ariza’s second free throw to close the first half with a 51-50 Lakers lead.
Finally, the number of starts this season for Ariza, who said after the game that he’s probably more comfortable coming off the bench, but is (obviously) willing to do whatever his coaches ask of him in terms of role and playing time.
Second half turnovers by the Lakers, who’d coughed up the rock over 12 times in the first half. Being able to consistently set up their defense thanks to their ball control was a factor in holding Portland to 36 second half points, including 16 in the third quarter.
Points in the paint in the second half by the Blazers, who’d managed 26 in the first half. L.A. had 16 in the lane in the first half (14 in the second quarter) and 30 for the game.
Man rotation utilized by Phil Jackson for the first time this season, due to the absence of Luke Walton and Jordan Farmar.
Percent of shots made by Portland’s bench on a putrid 2-of-21 performance. Their garbage list included Jerryd Bayless (0-for-4), Travis Outlaw (1-for-8), Sergio Rodriguez (1-for-5) and Channing Frye (0-for-3). That produced just 10 bench points, compared with 38 for the Lakers, who got double-digits from Vladimir Radmanovic (16), Sasha Vujacic (11) and Lamar Odom (10) on a collective 50 percent shooting.
Rebounds for Andrew Bynum, who added three assists and a block but just four points on 1-of-4 shooting. Bynum was a key factor, however, in holding Greg Oden to four rebounds in 35 minutes, and 10 points on 3-of-7 shooting.
Season-high points from Radmanovic in 18 minutes, thanks to 2-of-3 from three and 6-of-7 free throws. All but one of Vladi’s points came in the second half, including two three pointers during a key run to close the third and open the fourth quarters. After the game, Radmanovic expressed frustration with his place on the bench in recent games, but nonetheless said he had a responsibility to give his best possible effort when put on the floor, in this case due to Walton’s injured foot.
Free throws made by the Lakers, led by six from Radmanovic. Portland made exactly half that many on 13-of-22 (59.1 percent), while the Lakers converted 78.8 percent (26-of-33).
L.A.’s league-best winning percentage (27-5), just above Boston’s 82.9 (29-6), Cleveland’s 81.8 (27-6) and Orlando’s 76.5 (26-8).
Shooting percentage by French 20-year-old rookie Nicolas Batum, one of the league’s least recognizable players who hit all six of his shots from the field, including three triples for his 17 points. Batum also made both free throws, grabbed five boards, tossed four assists with no turnovers and guarded Kobe Bryant. Not a bad night. Too bad nobody else on his squad shot very well (34.2 percent).