Read about the Lakers vs. Nets games as it unfolds. 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: Andrew Bynum, Sun Yue
Nets: Maurice Ager, Eduardo Najera
Lakers: Fisher, Bryant, Ariza, Odom and Gasol
Nets: Devin Harris*, Vince Carter, Trenton Hassell, Ryan Anderson and Brook Lopez
*Harris had missed the last five games due to a strained left shoulder. He’s averaging 22.6 points and 7.0 assists on the season to lead the Nets.
Jackson To Pass Pat Riley for Most Games Coached
Funny thing was, when Phil Jackson was asked what it meant to pass John Kundla and Pat Riley to become the coach of the Lakers with the all-time most games coached, it wasn’t too significant for him. Jackson seems to measure his success on championships and happiness.
12:00 I think this is the first time all season that there are literally more Lakers – and Kobe specifically – fans here than fans of the opposing team. Kobe’s intro was greeted by, literally, 1,000+ screaming fans wearing No. 24 jerseys, let alone those who didn’t go with a jersey.
11:45 I guess Devin Harris is back – he opened the game with a triple after missing his previous five, though Fisher countered with a long two at the other end, then continued his hot shooting by nailing a triple after an Odom block.
10:27 Kobe entered the early block party (attended by 10,000 of his friends) by swatting Harris at the rim, and it was Fish again from outside, claiming all seven of L.A.’s points as the defense continued to rotate well.
6:17 After watching Harris score on a slick move in transition off the glass, Bryant wasn’t about to let his fans forget who does that the best, promptly driving to the rack past two defenders and finishing a reverse … off glass. There’s the ol’ Kobe one-upped-ya. Meanwhile, Fish hit again (4-of-4) and Gasol scored +1 to put L.A. up 14-12.
4:06 As has been in recent games, Jordan Farmar checked in for Fisher and his nine points with L.A. up 23-18. Gasol and Bryant, on the other hand, haven’t seen any decrease in minutes.
2:46 Ariza took advantage of his defender doubling down on Gasol to nail a wide open triple, which was followed by a wide open Odom jumper, also good, to extend L.A.’s lead to 29-22.
0:20.0 L.A. missed not one … or two … but three layups in one possession. First was Farmar’s missed driving finger roll, next Odom’s putback and finally a Gasol baby hook. A hit there would have put L.A. up 33-22, but instead, Keyon Dooling hit a triple with 1.7 seconds remaining to make it a 31-25 ball game.
Though New Jersey was effective offensively to start the game, L.A.’s defense stepped it up once they became more familiar with the Nets Princeton-style offense.
10:14 It’s interesting of late to see how L.A.’s second unit comes out in the second quarter, though the slight twist here is that Bryant came out with Farmar, Vujacic, Walton and Gasol. The offense certainly clicked early, with Vujacic nailing a three, Gasol earning two free throws and Walton scoring easily in the lane (hasn’t that been common lately? Walton seems to find good spots on the floor to get his shot off easily).
9:41 The biggest cheer of the night came on the best play, when Bryant spun into the lane past new defender Chris Douglas-Roberts, went up as if to shoot, but laid it off behind his back to a trailing Gasol for a slam and a 39-27 lead. Satisfied, Jackson took Kobe out in favor of Josh Powell.
8:55 Pau played 41 minutes last night, but he certainly didn’t look tired in his 15th straight minute, first nailing a jumper and then running the floor for a big dunk from Vujacic’s pretty pass. L.A. had thus outscored N.J. 13-4 to start the quarter.
Random Andrew Bynum Inclusion
Before the game, Phil Jackson took another question about Bynum. Here’s what Phil said:
“I think that when Andrew does come back then when’s a significant word that we want to use. If it’s the regular season it’s entirely different than if it’s the playoffs. The playoffs are a totally different game and we know that those minutes have to be precious. In the regular season we can devote significant time to getting his rhythm back. In a playoff situation, you just don’t have those kind of moments to expend. We’re hopeful that he comes back late in the season. We know it’s not a pressure situation where he has to do that but if he doesn’t we’ll have to work him into the line-up.
Q: What would you except from him if he does come back?
A: We won’t play him if we don’t feel he’s capable of blocking shots, rebounding and doing that kind of stuff. He has to be able to play his game.
6:26 Brook Lopez, who definitely should have been drafted much earlier, scored four points on one possession to cut L.A.’s lead to nine. He scored again on Mbenga, who’d checked in for Gasol moments earlier, on Jersey’s next possession. It wasn’t the best stretch for Mbenga, who forced two shots on offense, and was out of place defensively to the tune that Gasol had to check back in after only two minutes as L.A.’s lead dwindled to five.
2:29 Funny how that works. With Gasol back in, L.A. scored four straight to make it 51-42. Pau was 6-of-9 for 16 points with six boards, three assists and two steals, which along with Fisher’s 11 points made up for Bryant’s 1-of-7. Of course, Bryant was still +13, had four assists and two steals and was very active defensively. In unrelated news, never has there been an arena with more sponsors than IZOD Center, which is plastered with PSEG, Vonage, McDonalds, Dunkin’ Donuts, Foot Locker, Mountain Dew, Xanadu, you name it evvverywhere. I suppose you have to credit their marketing staff/business people for selling like crazy.
0:52.2 Bryant left the floor after staying on the ground for a good 40 seconds or so after Harris drew his charge. It looked like a basic collision, though the proximity to halftime may have simply meant he had to shake off whatever happened. It didn’t appear that there were any twists or turns, but with Bryant, breaths will be collectively held.
0:36.6 A put-back layup by Anderson capped Jersey’s 7-0 run to close the half, making the score 51-49 as the Lakers were obviously more concerned about Bryant’s status. We’ll get an update as soon as possible.
Kobe Sprains Ankle, Will Play
Word is that Bryant sprained his (right?) ankle, that he got taped up at halftime and will play through it. Needless to say, the guy is tougher than Tiger Woods on Sunday.
11:35 So, Kobe’s out there, but will he be a decoy or a feature? Well, on L.A.’s first play, Bryant stayed on the opposite side of the floor while Fish called an iso for Odom, which produced a nice layup.
10:42 Bryant wasn’t moving great defensively, which allowed Hassell to get off an open jumper in the corner, but on the previous offensive play his movement did not seem too limited. Basically, his ankle’s probably bothering him, but it’s not bad enough for him to let it really affect him or his squad.
8:30 Odom hit a deep two to nearly answer Carter’s three that had tied the game for Jersey.
6:53 Boy has Fish been good for L.A. today, going 7-for-10 including a pull-up in transition after Bryant’s steal to cap an 8-0 Lakers run.
5:10 Make it a 13-0 run. Bryant hit a tech after Odom swatted Harris, Ariza cut to the hoop for a finish and Gasol sealed off Anderson in the paint before dunking for a 70-57 Lakers lead.
4:37 Hassell finally stopped the streak with a dunk to answer Bryant’s triple … But Kobe simply pulled up again for his second straight bomb (11 points).
3:29 The first massive “MVP” chant of the game came after Bryant picked off a Lopez outlet pass and no-looked to Gasol, resulting in free throws. Don’t worry about the ankle … L.A. 78, N.J. 59.
2:56 OK, fine … time to type Mamba. Here’s the play: Gasol boards a missed N.J. three (3-of-16), outlets to Bryant, who looks around before pulling up from 27 feet on the wing … Swish. L.A.’d scored 30 points to Jersey’s 10, including Bryant’s nine in just over two minutes, to take a 22-point lead. Kobe’s good at basketball.
0:06.8 After that purple and gold burst, Jersey finally fought back, scoring the quarter’s final 11 points to cut L.A.’s lead in half and enter the fourth down 81-70. “Defensive letdown” is the only way to describe the last two minutes for L.A., which will most likely need to use Bryant, Gasol and Odom deep into another game. Of course, you have to credit the Nets for not keeling over, but sure enough, there was Bryant on the floor with Gasol to start the fourth, plus Walton, Farmar and Vujacic.
11:42 Jersey started the quarter how they wanted, getting a corner three (a big part of their drive and kick offense) from Dooling to cut the lead to eight.
9:42 Vujacic tweaked his ankle again last night (though not the one that was operated upon), which we mention as he came up a bit short on a corner three. In fact, he’s been battling through his ankles all season with little mention.
8:36 Farmar drew a foul going to the hoop in transition, but didn’t get a shot off (= no free throws). This interests us because his buddy Walton ran over to let him know that he should have put the ball up with his left hand … Luke told us earlier this week that’s something he can do because of their friendship. L.A. had led by eight, but that went down to five when Dooling hit his second three off the bench.
7:14 Farmar followed up with a pretty pass in the lane to Gasol, who finished for the 10th time in 15 attempts to get to a game high 26 points. L.A. had a very impressive 26 dimes on 35 made field goals, signifying excellent ball movement within the offense. Gasol (seven), Bryant (six), Odom (four) and Farmar (three) did the bulk of the work there.
6:28 But the Nets stayed hot, getting a Boone tip in and Hayes layup as Gasol tired in the paint to cut L.A.’s lead to 86-83. It wasn’t long ago that the Lakers held a 22-point edge…
4:35 What a strange game. A quick 6-0 run from L.A. keyed by Odom’s aggressiveness and Fisher’s eighth make in 12 attempts (18 points) put them right back up by nine.
2:41 The Nets pulled four points back promptly, but Odom again took matters into his Queens-made hands to draw Carter’s fifth foul and stride back to the charity stripe.
1:54 Another big hoop from Odom, this one in the @ Cleveland offensive board put-back variety, put L.A up 95-90 after a Hayes jumper. Odom then cleared his 11th board on defense, and found Gasol for a jumper that gave Pau 30 points and the Lakers a 97-90 lead with just over a minute to play.
0:30.0 Who else to ice this game but a dominant Gasol, who used Lopez’s over aggressive defense to spin and finish at the rim with a dunk, negating a Hayes three at the other end. Pau would add two free throws to get to 36 points on 14-of-19 shooting, plus 11 boards and seven dimes with two steals in a virtuoso performance from the Spaniard. With the 103-95 win, L.A. started out 4-0 on their seven-game trip.