Just hours after a rather strange game in Detroit complete with runs and lulls, the Lakers pulled out a win in New Jersey by following a similar pattern in winning their fourth consecutive game on their seven-game trip.
This one may be a bit sweeter, however, as the Lakers clinched the top seed in the Western Conference Playoffs three weeks before the regular season ended.
On Friday night at Jersey’s IZOD Center, Pau Gasol was entirely fantastic offensively, making 14-of-19 shots plus 8-of-10 free throws for a season high 36 points, not to mention 11 boards and seven assists. L.A. did suffer a temporary scare when Kobe Bryant left the floor with under a minute to go in the second quarter (sprained ankle), but he returned to score 12 points in the third including three triples in just over two minutes. He’d add a team high nine assists, and is listed as day-to-day, set to be re-evaluated tomorrow.
Alas, here’s how the swings went: After leading by as many as 14 in the first half, New Jersey came back to within two thanks to a late run to close the half, and eventually tied the game at 57 with 8:46 left in the third. The Lakers promptly went on a 13-0 run that eventually became a 30-10 spurt sparked by three Kobe Bryant triples … before conceding the final 11 points of the quarter that cut a 22-point advantage in half.
The Nets then chopped that lead down to three with a bit over six minutes to go in the fourth, before Lamar Odom (12, 11 and four) and Derek Fisher (18 points) went on a 6-0 spurt to again gain control of a game that Gasol would put on ice with four points in the final minute.
It’s on to Atlanta, Charlotte and Milwaukee as L.A. attempts to become the first team in league history to finish a trip 7-0, all the while keeping pace with Cleveland for the league’s best record.
Season high points for Pau Gasol, who was fantastic in making 14-of-19 shots with 8-of-10 free throws and adding 11 boards and seven dimes. Gasol didn’t have quite as much energy on defense, but did come up with a key fourth quarter block.
Assists on 41 field goals for L.A., who moved the ball very well in its offense.
Point run in the third quarter to give L.A. a 70-57 lead after Vince Carter’s three had tied the score.
Bench points for the Lakers; L.A.’s starters all played at least 30 minutes, but the bench was solid to start the second quarter for the first time on the road trip.
Straight points scored by the Nets to cut L.A.’s 22-point third quarter lead in half heading into the fourth quarter.
Triples made by Kobe Bryant in just over two minutes late in the third quarter.