Lakers 103, Nets 84: Running Diary

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We took a look at the Lakers – Nets contest in New Jersey while it was happening, entering a thought or three each quarter as the Lakers looked for their third straight road win.

Inactives
Lakers: Luke Walton (16th straight game)
Nets: Yi Jianlian, Jarvis Hayes

Starters
Lakers: Fisher, Bryant, Artest, Gasol and Bynum
Nets: Devin Harris, Courtney Lee, Trenton Hassell, Josh Boone and Brook Lopez

Pregame Notes
- Nets big man Brook Lopez ranks first among all NBA centers in scoring at 19.7 points per game, and has amassed 15 double-doubles in 26 games. He had six straight double-doubles heading into tonight’s game. He’s also ranked first at the free throw line (85.1 percent) among all centers.
- Chris Douglas-Roberts ranks fifth among all second-year players in scoring at 16.2 points per game, behind lottery picks Lopez, Eric Gordon, O.J. Mayo and Derrick Rose.
- Pau Gasol has been rebounding like a madman of late, grabbing 20, 20, 16 and 22 in his last four games.
- The Nets rank second in the NBA in road games played to start the season, trailing only the Suns (17). L.A., on the other hand, is playing its eighth game away from STAPLES Center.
- Phil Jackson answered questions about a potential return next season, stating (as usual) that he won’t decide until this season is over, but adding that winning the championship again would positively impact the chances he would return.

Kobe Bryant NJFirst Quarter
10:00 Two minutes into the game, it became clear that the Lakers wouldn’t haven’t much trouble getting good shots as Bynum, Bryant and Gasol all sank relatively open jumpers.

2:07 Bryant scored six early points, then turned on facilitator mode, finding teammates four different times for buckets, including a pretty pass to a cutting Odom (in for Bynum after two quick fouls) in transition that put L.A. up 24-17.

1:42 Adam Morrison, whom we just talked to about staying sharp despite not playing, checked in alongside Jordan Farmar for his first action in five games. With 30.5 seconds remaining in the quarter, Morrison found himself open on the baseline, and stuck his jumper to help L.A. take a 29-21 lead into the second.

Second Quarter
8:51 They call him “Congo Cash” for a reason, folks. D.J. Mbenga, in as Bynum picked up two early fouls to help deal with Brook Lopez, swished a 17-foot jumper.

5:52 When Josh Powell checked in for Mbenga, every active Laker but Sasha Vujacic had checked in for Phil Jackson, 11 in all. Though L.A. largely held onto an eight- or nine-point lead, the Nets rallied to cut it to four with 3:36 remaining.

0:25.4 New Jersey continued its solid second quarter throughout the last five minutes, getting more love from Harris, who sank all seven of his field goal attempts in the period for 17 points, good enough to give the Nets a surprising 48-46 lead. The Lakers were on the lackadaisical side in the period, seemingly content to turn the engines back on in the second half.

Gasol NJThird Quarter
11:00 Andrew Bynum, playing in front of his home state, continued to struggle with foul trouble by committing his fourth early in the third to get Odom back into the game. L.O. would respond with a solid run of play, grabbing five boards and scoring two buckets in the quarter.

4:37 That Bryant would score 11 of L.A.’s 21 points to turn a halftime deficit into a 10-point lead certainly wasn’t a surprise (consider the engine revved up). Against some of the weaker NBA teams, the Lakers will sometimes conserve full energy for portions of the game, but always pick a time to really turn up the defensive pressure and capitalize at the other end. We saw that in the first eight minutes of the third, led by Bryant.

1:24 Consecutive hoops from Bryant and Gasol allowed the Lakers to match their biggest lead of the game at 12 points, capping an impressive stretch of defense that ceded just 16 points from New Jersey in the quarter. L.A. also much-better dealt with NJ’s matchup zone, thanks in part to two three-pointers from Fisher and Bryant’s work along the baseline.

Fourth Quarter
9:05 Bryant earned his third “MVP!” chant of the night after a pretty up-and-under reverse layup off glass, plus the foul, as he reached 29 points, 10 rebounds and five assists in yet another impressive effort.

7:33 Gasol’s 12th rebound was somewhat anticlimactic, after the Spaniard grabbed 20, 20, 16 and 22 boards in his last four games. This one came just before Shannon Brown’s pull-up jumper put the Lakers up 21 points, their biggest lead of the evening.

5:00 New Jersey’s Douglas-Roberts went down really hard on his ankle, rolling it over pretty good before a two-minute injury timeout and your proverbial adding injury to insult. The Lakers continued to cruise, building their lead to 24 points as Jackson emptied his bench.

The final score: Lakers 103, Nets 84, thanks to a 57-36 second half edge.

POSTGAME NUMBERS
3 Lakers with double-digit rebounds, including 10 from Kobe Bryant, 12 off the bench from Lamar Odom and 14 from Pau Gasol.

11 More rebounds grabbed by the Lakers in the second half.

14 Points off the bench for both Jordan Farmar and Odom, both of whom made 7-of-9 shots. Odom added four assists in 25 minutes, and Farmar three in 21 minutes as Jackson praised the effort of both.

29 Points to pace the Lakers, in 35 minutes thanks to 12-of-23 shooting from Bryant, who also added five assists and the aforementioned boards.

37.8 New Jersey’s FG percentage, compared to 49.4 from the Lakers. That’s what happens when you pit the league’s top defense against the league’s worst offense.