As always, feel free to refresh your browser for live updates throughout the game … On second thought, I guess they wouldn’t technically be “live” updates since you have to press refresh. But whatever.
Lakers: Jordan Farmar, DJ Mbenga
Wizards: Gilbert Arenas, Brendan Haywood, Etan Thomas
More important than any pregame news (e.g. Phil likes watching really good teams play each other, and thus was on time for the Orlando-Boston tip tonight) is how Antawn Jamison’s iPod rolls: Louis Vuitton style. If you can think of one good reason why ‘Tawn wouldn’t have an LV iPod cover, I’d love to hear it. I’d also love to hear how jealous Lamar Odom will be once he finds out.
Lakers Fish, Kobe, Luke, Pau and Bynum
Wizards Mike James, Caron Butler, Antawn Jamison, Dominic McGuire and Andray Blatche
Before we get started here, the big news around the league today was the announcement of the All-Star starters. Kobe will start his 11th-straight game alongside Yao Ming, Tim Duncan, Chris Paul and Amar’e Stoudemire on the Western squad. To be honest, the only player who’s even questionable to me is Stoudemire. I’d rather have Dirk Nowitzki or Gasol among the starters, personally, and will debate as much with Matt Money Smith tomorrow afternoon on Lakers.com.
10:12 Luke Walton cashes in on a perimeter jumper from Bryant, who’s looking to get to 10 assists for the fifth-straight game tonight. I’d bet on that if he plays 30+ minutes.
9:32 The first triple of the game goes down for Fisher, who came in 10th in the league in three-point shooting (43.8 percent). Meanwhile, the Wiz started out 0-for-5 from the field.
7:35 Gasol and Bynum hit for the Lakers, though the Wizards finally got some shots to drop with back-to-back threes from Butler and Jamison to make it 11-8 L.A. Speaking of Butler, his nickname is “Tough Juice.” Is there a better nickname in the NBA?
5:38 Six of Washington’s 11 shots have come from three, and the third one just went down for Jamison to cut L.A.’s lead to 16-13. Jamison and Butler were both All-Stars last year, and both continue to play at a high level, but without Gilbert Arenas and Brendan Haywood in particular, they simply aren’t getting any help. Thus the nine wins, tied for the worst in the league with Oklahoma City and the Clippers.
4:10 In yesterday’s first quarter, Bynum put up 13 points. He just scored his eighth against the Wiz, on 3-of-3 shooting plus 2-of-2 free throws. Throw in six rebounds for ‘Drew, and he’s on his way to backing up his 42-point, 15-board performance last night against the Clippers with a solid effort.
3:06 Ouch. As Bryant drove into the lane, James just took a swipe at the ball while it was in Kobe’s hands. It’s hard not to cringe whenever a wayward hand slaps in Bryant’s direction.
2:00 TNT’s long timeouts give us a chance to talk about Boston’s 90-80 victory in Orlando, certainly a statement game of sorts for the defending champs. It would still appear that the Celtics could add a player or two to their bench, but we shouldn’t hear too much more about their brief slump as they’ve responded with seven straight wins.
0:27.0 Newly-checked in Sasha Vujacic opens his effort with a swished triple on Kobe’s third assist to put the Lakers up 31-24 heading into the second quarter. Vujacic almost always shoots better in a given game when he hits his first attempt or two (anyone care to look this up and send it into the Mailbag?).
L.A. shot a terrific 12-of-19 in the quarter (63.2 percent) and outrebounded the Wizards 12-5.
11:00 Vujacic again from three. Swish.
10:23 Seeing that no one knew who was guarding him, Lamar Odom caught the ball at the top of the key, and strode directly to the hoop for a huge left-handed jam, similar to his emphatic third quarter swoop last night. Up next for a suddenly-hot Lakers squad was Ariza, who nailed a three to put the home team up 39-26.
In related news, Washington’s bench includes JaVale McGee (rookie), Nick Young (second year) and Javaris Crittenton (second year, former Lakers rookie).
7:27 L.A.’s second unit’s been playing some very effective defense, and using missed shots to run and create easy opportunities at the other end. The latest such play occurred as Odom leaked out, received a full-court pass from Ariza and finished at the rim for his eighth point (plus four boards and three dimes) and a 46-30 lead. That’s a 15-6 run to start the quarter.
5:34 Cool video montage of Mamba’s 81-point performance against Toronto on this day three years ago just went up on the jumbotron. Ty reminded me that until Kobe went nuts in the third quarter, the Lakers were losing that game in a big way (68-49). Just absurd. Wanna see?
Meanwhile, Odom checked out with eight points, five boards and four assists in a really solid effort. You have to admit that Odom’s been playing his best ball of the year in the last week or so, yeah?
3:07 And they’re up 20, thanks to Ariza’s second triple. The bench is now 11-for-14. Lakers 62, Wiz 42. How about some Chris Mihm, Josh Powell and Vladi?
0:01 Bryant spent the last five minutes absolutely flying around defensively, which was pretty fun to watch with the Lakers up 20. His effort likewise inspired players like Ariza, who came up with a swipe with five seconds remaining in the game and got the ball to Bryant, who in turn fed a wide-open Bynun under the hoop for a slam and a 72-47 lead as the halftime whistle blew.
The 72 points are a season-high in one half for the Lakers, who were (obviously) on fire as a team in hitting 27-of-39 shots from the field. In fact, not one of L.A.’s eight players seeing action shot less than 50 percent. Not one. The squad made 6-of-11 from three (54.5 percent), 12-of-15 free throws (80 percent) and out-rebounded the Wizards 23-12.
9:35 Bynum, who made 6-of-7 shots in the first half, canned his first in the lane before missing thrice inside. Amidst those misses were two offensive boards, however, giving him 13 window cleans with 18 points, already, for another double-double.
8:02 Gasol’s offensive rebound and putback put L.A. up 76-51. In related news, Washington is not good. Anyone else ready for some Sun? I know the national audience is.
7:04 As Bynum goes to the line after being grabbed while receiving near the rim from Bryant’s pass, let’s raise this question: Why shouldn’t a player get an assist when a pass they make leads directly to two free throw makes? If the player who’s fouled follows the rules for a regular assist, but miss the shot due to a hack before converting the same amount of points as would have been had were the foul not to occur, why penalize the passer? Just sayin’.
Does anyone else watch MTV’s “Bromance?” I’m curious because I can’t think of another show in which so many man tears have been dropped for legitimate emotional reasons, and my DVR is rarely less than 80 percent full. I mean, it’s obvious that the producers (including Ryan Seacrest) purposely cast males that could keep Niagra Falls running in a drought, but you have to give Brody Jenner credit for making them care about a bromance to such an unseemly degree. For example, whilst taking the lads camping, Brody brought in a special doctor who asked the guys questions along the lines of: “How did you feel when you had no friends in high school?” You get the idea.
By the way, the Lakers scored a few more times to take a 92-59 lead with about four minutes remaining, the final bucket coming on an Odom three while Bryant, Fisher, Gasol and Walton remained in the game. L.A.’s only up by 33, though, and Washington has Oleksiy Pecherov (wait, you’ve never heard of the second-year Ukrainian?) on the bench.
2:56 Vujacic and Ariza joined Odom with Bryant and Bynum. Perhaps more than anything, Jackson’s just trying to re-establish the Lakers’ rotation after a plethora of minor injuries in the last several weeks. As the Wizards have been stuck on 59 points for four minutes, Vujacic added a driving layup to make it a 95-59 lead. And with that, Radmanovic came in for Bryant, leaving ‘Drew as the only starter on the floor.
0:33.8 Butler mercifully hits a three to bring the Wizards within … 29 heading into the final quarter.
As the final period starts, TNT’s Cheryl Miller hits up Terrell Owens, who says: “I’m going to be a Cowboy until I retire.” OK.
10:50 Another suspended-in-air lefty slam from Odom, to make it 103-70. I’ll say it again … Odom’s showing absolutely no ill affects from that bone bruise he suffered to his knee, which isn’t always the case with those types of injuries.
8:49 And the benches empty:
Lakers: Vujacic, Ariza, Radmanovic, Powell and Mihm
Wizards: Crittenton, McGuire, Young, Pecherov and McGee
4:52 Here comes the Sun, with the Lakers up 110-79.
0:4.9 Sun Yue had three chances to add his 11 teammates in the scoring column, but rimmed out on a 17-foot jumper to close the game with a 117-97 victory that wasn’t nearly that close.
Next up for the Lakers, who again hold the league’s best record at 34-8, is the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday right here at STAPLES.