Lakers – Kings Running Diary

KobeRead about the Lakers vs. Kings 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
Kings: Kevin Martin*, Kenny Thomas
*Martin, Sac’s best player, has missed all four games against the Lakers this year.

Lakers Fisher, Bryant, Ariza, Odom and Gasol
Kings Beno Udrih, Francisco Garcia, Andres Nocioni, Jason Thompson and Spencer Hawes

Phil Jackson Pregame
Perhaps the most interesting quote Phil Jackson had was a response to a question about Kobe Bryant’s field goal shooting being down:

“My issues with the players is they aren’t working hard enough. They’re saving steps, and when you do that you try to get by without having to exert yourself enough to win games the right way. Kobe is one of those people who’s doing that. Some of it is measuring out what it’s going to take to win a ball game, and I understand that. This is a veteran who’s been through a lot of seasons, and we just have to shorten his minutes a bit to keep his legs lively.”

Is it simply a motivational quote from Jackson? Perhaps. Jackson also said that he’d wait to see how Bynum looked in practice on Wednesday before deciding whether or not he’ll play against the Nuggets on Thursday a day after Bynum said he was targeting Sunday’s Memphis game for his return.

Here’s the audio:

KingsFirst Quarter
12:00 The Kings played the theme song from “Beverly Hills 90210” when the Lakers’ starters were introduced. Loving that. Last time L.A. was here back in December, the Kings stormed them with effort from the opening tip, so it’ll be interesting to see how the Lakers respond…

11:42 An aggressive up-and-under move from Bryant right around Garcia, complete with a finger roll off glass would do.

9:44 Speaking of the first Arco game, it was Garcia who killed the Lakers, and around whom the Kings rallied. On this night, Garcia opened with two free throws, a triple and an assist for a Hawes dunk before driving and finishing with a dunk, then pausing to look at his bench while pounding his chest. His Kings led 11-8, but the difference between this and the last game is that L.A. was matching the early energy.

8:20 Of course, energy only goes so far when the other team makes seven of its first eight shots, as Sac did to open a 19-12 lead before Fish nailed a corner three to cut it to four.

5:23 The Kings came into this game having lost 7-of-8 games, and are among the league’s least talented teams. But they’re still NBA players, and when they play their best game, they can still beat anybody. In related news, Sac continued to nail shots (11-of-15, 73%) including Nocioni’s second three and a Thompson and-1 that put the Kings suddenly up 29-17.

2:30 When the shots finally stopped falling for the Kings, who missed four jumpers in a row, L.A. took advantage by scoring eight straight points, highlighted by a powerful dunk in traffic from a cutting Ariza. Gasol followed with two free throws that made it 29-25, capping the run that, even if early in the game, was important to quell a bit of Sacramento’s spirit.

0:33.2 Lakers fans had to like Bryant’s newfound penchant for slashing to the hole, which he did for the third time to draw two free throws from Garcia. Though he was 2-of-6 from the field, Bryant still managed eight points with three boards and two dimes in the first.

0:04.0 Bobby Jackson, the lone King left from Sacramento’s great early ’00 teams, nailed a tough jumper to send Sac into the second quarter up 37-31 after they’d led by as many as 12.

KingsSecond Quarter
12:00 Jackson opened the second quarter not with Gasol, as usual, but Odom alongside Farmar, Vujacic, Walton and Powell. Is Phil Jackson trying to re-familiarize Odom with the second unit? Perhaps, though it could also be a simple answer to Sac’s small lineup.

9:27 L.A. looked to Odom on three consecutive possessions, and Lamar responded with seven straight points. First came a layup in traffic, then an and-1 off a nice Walton pass, and finally two free throws after another drive to the cup to make it 44-38 Kings. Walton joined the scoring after a stop with a turnaround on the baseline that completed a turnaround in the bench’s play and forced a Sac timeout, out of which Gasol entered in place of Odom. After another stop, Powell converted a layup, and the lead was two.

7:42 Farmar, after making 1-of-2 free throws (59.4 percent on the season) nailed a three to put L.A. up for the first time, 46-44, completing L.A.’s solid stretch of bench play. Meanwhile, L.A. fans saw the two sides of Rashad McCants, who first nailed a beautiful step back J after crossing Vujacic over and threw down a hammer dunk, before missing badly on consecutive jumpers he probably shouldn’t have taken.

5:25 While IMing to Ty Nowell about the pregame locker room debate between Shannon Brown and Adam Morrison regarding who should win our March Madness Pool (they tied at 151 and we didn’t have a tiebreaker), Brown nailed a triple from the corner. But since Morrison pegged the winner, UNC, he might get the edge.

… On second thought, until Morrison hits a three in this game, maybe we should give it to Brown? Plus, he calls his son Shannon Christopher Brown this awesome name: “Fatman.” That should count for something. Back on the floor, a Powell lefty hook and two Walton free throws put L.A. up five.

2:16 Fatman Sr. was making a strong case for his bracket, staying on the floor with Gasol, Odom, Bryant and Walton and exploding for a one-handed dunk in transition, and flying all over the place on defense. L.A. then got a baseline J from Odom (13 points) and two Walton free throws to make it a 64-53 Lakers lead.

1:15 Bryant capped L.A.’s 12-0 run with a pretty (slick) reverse layup off glass, and L.A. led by 13. Basically, after Sac’s ludicrous start, the Lakers just kept pushing their game until the talent broke the score open. A minute later, Bryant nailed a nasty baseline turnaround that preceded Fatman Sr.’s breakaway layup (the refs chose not to call Garcia’s foul) that gave L.A. a commanding 71-55.

Surely that second quarter, in which L.A. outscored the Kings 40-18, signifies how the Lakers want to be playing heading into the playoffs. The Lakers got a solid half from Odom (13 and seven), Gasol (12 and seven), Bryant (13, five and two) along with an excellent bench performance led by Walton’s seven points, six assists and two boards alongside Brown’s seven points and two steals.

Third Quarter
10:57 The third started much as the second ended, with Bryant stealing the ball from Hawes, then pulling up for a jumper. Thompson countered with a tip-in of his own miss, before Ariza – who didn’t play in the second quarter thanks to Walton’s strong play – made a layup to join Bryant, Odom and Gasol in double figures. Lakers by 18.

Derek Fisher8:23 Good thing, bad thing with Pau: He stuck a jumper, but then simply stood by and watched as Thompson dunked, choosing not to contest. Afterwards, Bryant made his fourth shot in five attempts since opening 2-of-6, this one a triple that made it 80-63 Lakers.

5:23 After two missed Kobe free throws, a Garcia three put him on 19 points as the chippy former Louisville star continued to play well. Udrih added a free throw, but L.A. still led by 13. Speaking of free throws, L.A. went 18-for-21 in the first half (taking 16 in the second quarter blitz), and Sac only took four.

3:21 Another shifty Bryant slash (this is the most aggressive I’ve seen him in a while – maybe Phil made his pregame comments to Bryant as well) resulted in a sexy left-handed finish that preceded an Ariza steal and dunk, plus Odom’s lefty layup. With that, L.A. took its biggest lead at 94-76, and must have pleased its coaches by not taking its collective foot off the gas.

0:02.7 Give the Kings credit for not quitting, but instead closing the quarter on a 10-2 run thanks primarily to the energy of youngsters Spencer Hawes (19 and 11) and Jason Thompson (16 and seven). The Lakers still led by 10, but also knew they’d have to sustain a few more runs from a youthful and peppy home team.

Fourth Quarter
12:00 With Hawes still on the floor, Jackson opted for Gasol instead of Odom to couple Farmar, Vujacic, Walton and Powell.

Kobe Bryant9:56 Sitting for a quarter didn’t cool Walton down as his 15-footer opened the quarter’s scoring. Gasol then joined Bryant with 22 points after grabbing an offensive board (his 10th total), and Vujacic joined the action with a triple off a nice zip pass from Farmar. Vujacic to Farmar isn’t exactly the league’s most common combination, so that had to be nice to see for Lakers fans.

So, like it had in the second quarter, L.A.’s bench reversed the tide, re-opening a 17-point lead.

7:25 The bench continued its excellent play as Vujacic ran a give-and-go with Powell producing an 18-foot jumper from Vujacic that opened a 21-point lead for the Lakers. That was +11 since the quarter started.

6:16 Sasha again, from three this time, gave him eight in the quarter and the Lakers a 114-90 lead. Remember, the score was 96-86 at the start of the quarter, meaning L.A. had scored 18 of the quarter’s first 22 points.

3:10 Two minutes after Gasol checked out to join Odom and Bryant on the ice team, Walton set up Powell and Brown with easy buckets to push L.A.’s lead to 118-96, giving the former Arizona star nine assists to complement his 11 points.

1:18 Ohhh, SASHA! An absolute HAMMER dunk from Vujacic had L.A.’s bench going crazy, and served as a perfect point of emphasis to a great game from the bench. Up next, a tricky lil’ back-to-back with Denver and Portland on Thursday and Friday.