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: DJ Mbenga, Sun Yue, Andrew Bynum
Hawks: Flip Murray, Speedy Claxton, Othello Hunter
With DJ and Sun on the inactive list, we’ll see Shannon Brown and Adam Morrison in uniform together for the first time since they came over from Charlotte for Vladimir Radmanovic. Before the game, Phil Jackson said that both had made progress learning the triangle offense, and there’s a chance we’ll see either one tonight (or not).
Flip Murray’s absence could hurt the Hawks, who will miss his spark off the bench that nets 11 points per night. Murry’s out for at least two games due to undisclosed family matters.
Lakers Fish, Kobe, Luke, Lamar and Pau
Hawks Mike Bibby, Joe Johnson, Marvin Williams, Josh Smith and Al Horford
12:00 A question to start things off: How many rebounds for Lamar tonight? His last three games have gone up by one each time with 17, 18 and 19 window cleans. Can he get 20 on a Hawks team that’s relatively small with the 6-10 Horford playing center and 6-9 Smith at power forward?
11:34 We’ll wait and see on the boards, but Odom did start the game by picking off a Horford pass, racing up the floor and converting 1-of-2 free throws.
9:16 A 14-foot Gasol J from baseline was just the second of eight field goals in a slow L.A. start that found the purple and gold down 8-5 early. More interesting to me is that Bill O’Reilly, star of one of my favorite YouTube clips ever that I can’t link to (language), is sitting seven seats away from Phil Jackson.
7:56 Pau exceeded his rebounding total from Utah last Thursday (3) with his fourth. That dud (dead legs) came after board totals of 14, 12, 14, 15 and 14 in the five previous games to average 13.8.
3:59 Fisher’s layup made it 18-15 Hawks, who immediately went on a 6-0 burst highlighted by two Williams’ steals to go up nine. Sometimes the Lakers simply don’t take their opponents not named Celtics, Cavs or Spurs too seriously, and squads with as much talent as Atlanta can take advantage should they bring their A game. Surely that’s what we’ve seen so far, as the hustling Hawks had gathered five steals to spark easy transition hoops (in other words, exactly what assistant coach Brian Shaw warned against in our pregame report).
1:37 L.A. responded perfectly out of Jackson’s timeout, getting consecutive hoops from sub Jordan Farmar and Kobe’s first field goal to cut the lead to three.
1:00 Make it one. Farmar blew past Hawks sub Acie Law IV and finished under Zaza Pachulia at the rim with his left hand to cap an 8-0 run. Gasol then swatted Pachulia at the tail end of a solid defensive possession before Vujacic missed an open three to close the quarter.
The Hawks failed to score in the final 2:55 of play, missing jumpers and failing to produce turnovers, as L.A. trailed by just one (24-23) despite shooting 39.3 percent from the field.
11:40 Solomon Jones, a third-year player from South Florida, doubled down on Odom with Vujacic sitting alone at the three-point line. Not a good idea, Solomon. Sasha’s three put L.A. up two and continued the run to 11 points.
9:54 After coming up with a long rebound while already running full speed, Farmar unselfishly tossed a backwards alley-oop to Ariza. Both subs were terrific since entering, going +9 to create a 28-26 lead.
8:20 Odom’s been all over the glass again, and is already up to eight boards (four offensive) plus two steals, a block and three points. He’s well on his way to 20.
In other news … You couldn’t see this from home … Pachulia tried to rainbow the basketball (soccer style) to the ref after a previous timeout, but instead hit a ball kid in the head. Pachulia’s from Georgia (a country that had been forced into the U.S.S.R. in the 1920s before the Berlin Wall came down), where they play more soccer than in Atlanta, but apparently not much more if that’s an example (hoops shoes are tough though…)
5:41 Odom’s all over the place, playing like a “demon” (Spero Dedes’ words) in grabbing his 10th board and streaking up the floor to draw a foul. The Lakers had just taken the lead on Vujacic’s second triple and an Ariza jumper, and had the chance to go up seven heading into a timeout. Speaking of Sasha, I wrote before the game about how his ankles finally feel healthy thanks to the All-Star break. We shouldn’t underestimate the significance there.
3:25 Josh Powell’s jumper gave L.A.’s bench its 20th point (Ariza, Farmar and Vujacic had six each), compared to just eight for the Hawks, and gave the Lakers a 40-32 edge. Bryant had just two points on 1-of-5 shooting to that point.
0:31.5 Fisher’s triple put L.A. up nine, and didn’t surprise Ty or myself since most times Fish stays after shootaround (like today), he seems to carry over his shooting into the game. Peezy missed a layup after a pretty Kobe setup to close the half, but nonetheless, the Lakers put the clamp down after that rusty start and outscored the Hawks by 10 in the second to make it 45-36 at the half.
By the way, Atlanta scored just 12 points in the entire second quarter.
6:54 I kept looking for a good spot to make an entry as the Lakers destroyed the Hawks in the first four minutes of the third quarter to take 63-41 lead, but they simply didn’t stop scoring. In those minutes, L.A. scored 18 points to Atlanta’s five, after allowing just those 12 points in the second quarter while scoring 22. Accordingly, since 2:55 remained in the first quarter, the Lakers have outscored Atlanta 48-17. That’s good.
5:07 Leading the way in most facets of the game has been Odom, whose triple put L.A. up 70-48, and gave him 13 points with his 16 boards, three assists, two steals and a block.
4:10 All of a sudden, Pau just amassed his third career triple-double. At halftime, Gasol had eight points, eight boards and five assists, but was a central player in this third quarter run to get to 10 points, 12 boards and 10 assists. His 10th dime came on a 25-foot triple from Bryant, Kobe’s second of the quarter, to put L.A. up 75-52. The assists were most impressive, as all five of them came between the 8:21 and 4:21 mark of the third with the Lakers running their offense through the Spaniard.
Here’s data from his last two triple-doubles, courtesy of Ty Nowell: Gasol had his first career triple-double with 21 points, 12 boards and 12 assists on March 8, 2006 at Seattle, and his second on January 24, 2007 at Utah, when Pau recorded his second triple-double as a Grizzly with 17 points, 13 rebounds, and 12 assists.
0:20.0 Odom’s omnipresent on the glass. This time, he didn’t actually grab the board, but by continuing to challenge for every Lakers miss, he’s been putting an immense amount of pressure on Atlanta’s defense (not to mention that of L.A.’s last three opponents). The play resulted in Farmar’s catching the deflected board, feeding Vujacic for a miss that Chris Mihm stuck back in the hole.
Your score after three quarters: 86-60 Lakers, who took care of the Hawks with a 41-24 in the third.
After the third quarter of every home Lakers game, a selected fan takes a halfcourt shot for cash from Mirage Casino. The dollar amount started at $25,000, and rose by $5,000 in each subsequent game. Tonight’s jackpot was $165,000 … And guess what … Some dude just nailed his shot, off glass. The crowd and the players absolutely erupted in a fun show of happiness, with trick-shot-lover Vujacic even going over to shake his hand.
9:06 Farmar, who’s been very good with eight points, four dimes and two boards in 14 minutes, hit a jumper to put L.A. up 89-64 as the crowd continued to marvel at the half-court shot.
7:40 There’s rebound No. 20 for Odom, who will now get some rest courtesy of Josh Powell. Solid.
3:55 Just got back after interviewing our halfcourt shooter, Robert Ward, who happens to be a 23-year-old USC student from Mission Viejo, California. The best part of Robert’s story is that he’s going to use the money to pay off his expensive college loans … awesome. Congrats, Robert.
3:24 Back on the floor, things didn’t change too much with L.A.’s entire bench – including Adam Morrison and Shannon Brown’s first appearance in purple and gold – as Powell scored to put L.A. up 96-73. Morrison had scored his first point on a free throw at the 5:04 mark.
1:55 OHHHHH SHANNON! HUUUUGE SWAT (sorry, needed the extra letters for emphasis), as in maybe the biggest one I’ve ever seen in my life. Brown completely annihilated a Mario West layup attempt, jumping about nine feet in the air before pinning the ball on the glass with both hands. The Lakers bench was going nuts, keeled over with the collective “Oh heck no” expression as they all pushed each other and clamored for a jumbotron replay. They’d get it, five times. Awesome.
As the Lakers tossed the ball all over the place in the final two minutes, the Hawks went on a 10-0 to end the game, but still trailed 96-83 as L.A. opened post All-Star break action the right way.