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We took a look at the Lakers – Knicks contest in New York City while it was happening, entering a thought or three each quarter as the Lakers looked to complete a season sweep of the Knicks.
Lakers: Adam Morrison
Knicks: Eddy Curry
Lakers: Fisher, Bryant, Artest, Gasol and Bynum
Knicks: Chris Duhon, Wilson Chandler, Danilo Gallinari, Jared Jeffries, David Lee
7:33 The Lakers opened hotter than the roof of your mouth after drinking something hot too fast, with L.A. nailing 7-of-8 shots to take a 15-11 lead when Ron Artest sank his second deep jumper in as many attempts. Ron Ron, playing on the same floor he frequented as a St. John’s player, led the Lakers with a 38.4 percent success rate from three coming into the game.
5:30 The Knicks capped a quick 8-0 run with a Jared Jeffries dunk on the baseline, turning a four-point deficit into a four-point lead rather quickly. Phil Jackson had mentioned before the game how difficult the Knicks can be on a defense because of their unconventional system that takes time to adjust to, and that seemed the case as L.A. was unable to rotate to open shooters on time.
1:41 Andrew Bynum had a solid first quarter, leading the Lakers with 11 points after two free throws put L.A. up 30-25. Phil Jackson rewarded him by removing Pau Gasol when Lamar Odom checked into the contest moments before Bynum’s foul shots. Moments later another sub, Jordan Farmar (who joined Gasol in donating money to Haiti relief) nailed back-to-back threes to send the Lakers into the second quarter with a 36-30 lead.
10:38 Gasol checked back into the contest to open the second quarter and scored quickly thanks to Odom’s offensive rebound. That gave him six points, which meant $6,000 for the Clinton-Bush Haiti Fund since Gasol was donating $1,000 for each point he scored on the evening (Farmar is also donating to the Fund). Wouldn’t assisting one of Gasol’s buckets feel extra good tonight?
4:41 Gasol’s next bucket was a lefty hook off glass, which followed Luke Walton’s corner three to give the Lakers a 51-49 lead. Did you know that Walton leads the team in three-point percentage at 60 percent? OK, so he’s only taken 10. Whatever.
0:01.0 Artest was at it again from the three-point line, nailing his third in as many attempts to send the Lakers into the half tied at 63. Bynum led the Lakers with 17 points, Artest had 11 and Gasol eight while Bryant managed just five. The Lakers shot 56.1 percent from the field, but conceded eight offensive rebounds to the Knicks, which made up the difference of New York’s 48.1 percent from the field. It was not a good defensive effort for the Lakers, who caused not a single Knicks turnover, but L.A. generally plays its best D in the second half.
6:50 Bryant began to find an offensive rhythm at the quarter’s onset, scoring nine of L.A.’s 12 points capped by a three-pointer that made it 75-74 purple and gold. Clearly, he was going to find his way sooner than later.
2:44 Two Knicks – David Lee and Wilson Chandler – had been hurting the Lakers on defense throughout the evening, and each broke into 20-point scoring territory late in the third, producing an 81-79 lead for the home team thanks to Lee’s two-handed dunk. Lee had 21, and Chandler 22 at that point as Farmar and Brown entered the contest for L.A.
0:01.2 Bryant’s attempt at beating the buzzer with a driving layup was denied by Harrington, but Farmar’s third three-pointer of the game got the Lakers within a point at 85-84. L.A. stayed barely above the 50-percent shooting mark (50.8) and was executing decently on offense, but had forced just two Knicks turnovers to that point and grabbed only four offensive rebounds to 10 from the Knicks.
8:37 Those offensive rebounding and turnover numbers sometimes equate to energy, and if the Lakers were tired from last night’s loss in Cleveland, they seemed determined to push past it in the fourth*. Phil Jackson’s decision to start the young legs of Farmar and Brown seemed to help considerably, and moments later it was Gasol whose energy tangibly affected the team. First came a back down of Chandler for a deuce, then a drawn charge, then tip in of Lamar Odom’s missed put-back and finally a swat of David Lee that helped create an eight-point lead.
*We later learned that Derek Fisher gave a pre-quarter speech that clearly riled up the troops.
4:03 Speaking of Gasol … his terrific fourth quarter continued with an and-1 driving layup. He made the free throw in some atonement for missing 3-of-8 to start, reaching eight points with two boards and three blocks in the quarter and matching L.A.’s largest lead at 107-95.
1:50 It was truly all Kobe and Pau on offense for the Lakers in the fourth, as the two combined to score 23-of-27 points to create a 113-103 lead. Both teams would add two points as the game concluded moments later, the Lakers erasing Thursday evening’s losing stench thanks to a 31-20 final period. The Knicks really struggled to get good looks thanks to active defense in that final period, and scored only 44 points in the second half after a 63-point first half.
The Lakers will sleep in New York City tonight, then hop on a plane to Canada tomorrow in advance of Sunday’s game against Toronto. Until then, your numbers:
42 Second half points for the Knicks, who put 63 on the Lakers defense in the first half. Phil Jackson said the team made notable adjustments at halftime and generally played in more aggressive fashion.
23 Combined fourth quarter points for Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol, who finished with 27 and 20, respectively, to lead the Lakers.
14 Rebounds off the bench by Lamar Odom to lead the Lakers, including five on the offensive end.
6 Turnovers created by the Lakers, well below their average.
4 Blocked shots for Pau Gasol, who played center for the entire fourth quarter to better match up with New York’s small lineup. Gasol added 10 points and five boards in the final period to finish with 20 points, eight boards, five assists and four boards.