Read about the Lakers vs. Sixers games as it unfolds. As always, feel free to refresh your browser for live updates throughout the game … On second thought, they wouldn’t technically be “live” updates since you have to press refresh. But whatever.
Lakers: Andrew Bynum, Sun Yue
Sixers: Elton Brand, Jason Smith
Lakers Fisher, Bryant, Ariza, Odom, Gasol
Sixers Andre Miller, Willie Green, Andre Iguodala, Thaddeus Young, Samuel Dalembert
Happy St. Patrick’s Day everyone – My mom’s mom was named “Fitzpatrick” (um, last name).
Phil Jackson Pregame
What does it say about an opponent when the head coach isn’t asked one question about them? Instead of talking about Philly, Jackson was peppered with MVP questions, though he revealed little. Essentially, he tries to stay out of it and thinks there are several qualified candidates, including Kobe, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Dwight Howard. The other thing Jackson mentioned was that he may start to play his veterans fewer minutes.
11:54 L.A. got right to work on an alley-oop from Kobe to Lamar, then forced Dalembert into an unwanted perimeter J. On the next possession, Gasol scored easily inside to make it 4-0. In related news, Pau’s kind of efficient offensively.
10:07 Smack – Odom’s been really solid on defense lately, as witnessed by his swat of Iguodala, resulting in a Fisher layup.
7:38 Following assistant coach Brian Shaw’s game plan to the letter, L.A. went inside early and often to create good looks, and got back in transition the few times they missed, forcing Philly into their (putrid) half court offense. The result? An 11-2 start, capped by an Ariza triple as the Sixers missed 9-of-10 shots. Were this pace to continue, the score would be 132-24.
7:02 Green hit a jumper, which is news because Philly, the league’s worst three-point shooting (and shooting in general) team, had yet to can a J. Their strength, rather, is the athleticism on the wings with Young and Iggy, made better by Miller’s court vision … But if you keep ‘em from running, the Sixers aren’t so dangerous.
4:30 A good time to link to Kobe’s St. Patrick’s Day green-laced shoes comes after he nails a triple, his second-straight jumper, to put L.A. up 19-8.
1:46 Ariza hit from three for the second time moments earlier, prompting this comment from Lakers TV analyst Stu Lantz: “If Trevor’s hitting his outside shot, you have some issues defensively.” Meanwhile, here was the solid Lamar line as L.A. went up 24-14 on 63 percent shooting: four points, five boards, three dimes and a block.
1:46 Worthy of its own line: Gasol sat down in favor of Mbenga. Usually Pau plays the whole first quarter and starts the second, but we’re obviously seeing what Jackson talked about pregame. Joining Mbenga off the bench were Luke Walton and Jordan Farmar.
0:00 It wasn’t necessarily the bench’s fault, especially with Bryant and Odom still on the floor, but nonetheless the Sixers scored the quarter’s last six points to pull within four at the break, practically negating a terrific start heading into the second quarter. The slight let down – as you might have expected – came due to a lack of defensive ball pressure that we probably won’t see in the playoffs.
Here’s the other problem: six turnovers.
11:09 Completing a 10-0 run was Philly sub Louis Williams, who stripped Walton’s back pass to Farmar at the top of the key, took Farmar’s contact at the other end and finished plus the free throw. With that, 19-8 turned into 25-24 the other way.
Race for League’s Best Record:
Cleveland held serve at home with a late win over Orlando, but Boston (50-18) lost again, this time on the road in Chicago, to fall five games behind L.A. (53-13, tonight pending) and Cleveland (54-13) in the loss column. Chicago happens to be L.A.’s next destination, and Lakeres fans should realize that the Bulls have won seven straight games at home against good teams. It’s anything but a guaranteed win.
9:38 Josh Powell hit his first field goal attempt, a 17-footer from Gasol, to cap L.A.’s 7-0 answer to Philly’s run. Meanwhile, Shannon Brown checked in after Farmar chalked up his third foul in four minutes. The crowd, privy to Brown’s one huge highlight per five minutes, was pleased with this development…
…9:07 And while it wasn’t spectacular, Brown’s driving finger roll would do just fine, putting L.A. up 33-28. Meanwhile, again like Shaw told us, Philly’s aggressively pressuring L.A.’s guards, even more so with subs Williams and Royal Ivey, and as a result L.A.’s taking longer to get into the triangle. Ball pressure does leave driving lanes open, which L.A. had yet to expose.
6:39 The pendulum tilted back towards Philly, who posted a 13-3 run to reclaim the lead at 38-34. If you like L.A., don’t look at the second unit’s +/- ratings.
3:38 L.A. allowed Philly to played the whole quarter at their pace – thus the lead. This was witnessed again after a Lakers’ turnover, which quickly turned into a Williams triple and a 45-40 lead. Ariza, however, responded with a very odd looking and-1 to get to 11 points, just two behind Gasol’s 13 on 5-of-6 shooting.
2:32 Philly’s gambling defense, again, leaves lanes open for driving, which Fisher took advantage of for a layup.
0:02.8 Vujacic sent L.A. to the locker room on a positive note, canning a triple to tie things up at 50. That kind of shot can completely change the mood at halftime. The Lakers are also due a boost from Bryant to start the second half since he missed the final four minutes with three fouls.
Random TV Comment That Has No Relation To This Game
If you don’t watch “The Celebrity Apprentice,” let me explain something to you: Dennis Rodman is on the show for a very specific reason: to say strange things, act in his incredibly odd manner and contribute nothing to the tasks. He didn’t even show up for his male team’s challenge in week three, but still avoided being fired since Donald Trump’s hoping for a ratings boost inspired by a Rodman meltdown. If anyone thought Rodman was going to be fired in week three for any reason, they’re simply not a great reality TV mind like me (wait a second … I just made fun of myself).
Your stat of the half: L.A. had 11 turnovers to just four from Philly.
10:26 Kobe’s first J of the quarter got him to seven points on 3-of-5 shooting, which he followed on the next possession with another jumper. “Just like everybody anticipated,” said Stu.
8:46 A great weak side look from Gasol beat Philly’s pressure by getting Fish a wide-open three, good to put L.A. up 57-54.
6:52 There’s foul No. 4 on Kobe, meaning he’ll head straight to the bench. He gave Iggy a lil’ shove, and the ref wasn’t having it. Not the best thing that could have happened to the Lakers, especially with Gasol’s minutes climbing steadily (28 and counting with Kobe at 21).
4:56 Pau continues to never miss. His seventh hit in eight attempts tonight gave him 17 points with five assists, and meant he was 19 of his last 21, otherwise known as 90 percent. The 17-footer made it 63-60 L.A.
3:24 (Insert broken record) Philly can’t score in the half court. L.A., however, can, as witnessed by a slick cut to the hoop by Walton, who immediately became the beneficiary of Odom’s pretty pass.
2:06 An effective play for L.A. against Philly’s small lineup was simply to post Odom on the block, which in this case afforded L.A. an and-1, and a 69-62 lead. Meanwhile, L.A. had held Philly to only 12 points in the period in part by taking care of the ball (two turnovers).
0:21.1 Another good defensive possession ultimately netted Walton a breakaway layup, and capped a 10-0 Lakers run to close the third quarter, allowing the purple and gold to exit the floor to a chorus of cheers. Philly was stuck on 12 points for the quarter as L.A. leaped to a 73-62 advantage after a period minus Kobe. Your key player in that stretch? Lamar Odom, already in double-double form with 12 and 10, plus five assists.
11:50 An immediate bench boost came from Farmar, in the form of a corner three that put L.A. up 14.
9:05 Donyell Marshall doesn’t do much but shoot threes … And so he did to cap a 10-2 run to put Philly right back into the game at 78-72. You’ll never guess how the run started … with Lakers turnovers and loose balls that allowed Philly to run out.
6:46 Turnover, Lakers. Basket, Sixers. So simple. That capped a 19-4 spurt that gave Philly the lead right back at 81-80.
5:22 Marshall, again, from three before L.A. was able to set up its defense. This time, however, Ariza answered to cut Philly’s lead back to three at 86-83 as the crowd became fully invested in the game.
4:02 Kobe’s really been off his game since checking back in, struggling to find his rhythm in missing his first three shots of the quarter … Fortunately for L.A., Gasol grabbed the offensive board and stuck back his ninth field goal in 11 tries.
3:10 Two Gasol free throws cut Philly’s lead to one at 88-87, his 23 points leading all scorers.
2:22 All he does is make threes? Marshall, from deep, to up-1 Odom’s bucket.
1:39 Odom’s offensive board allowed Pau an isolation play on Marshall, which he turned into two free throws and a 91-91 tie.
1:04 Not Kobe’s night as he missed a jumper out of the Gasol pick-and-roll.
0:06.6 That’s why he’s Kobe Bryant. Missing his first five shots of the fourth didn’t matter – he nailed the big one, pulling up on Iguodala for a two-point lead. Plenty of time, however, for a potential Sixers game winner or OT forcing effort … Though L.A. does have a foul to give.
0:00.2 Amazing. Andre Iguodala saw Kobe’s jumper and one-upped Lakers Nation, waiting until there was only one second remaining on the game clock to rise and nail a three pointer with Ariza in his face. That L.A. chose not to foul was interesting, and it certainly came back to bite ‘em. Just like that, ecstasy turned into agony, and L.A. fell a loss behind Cleveland in the race for the NBA’s best record.