Lakers 99, Sixers 91: Running Diary

59443164Click here for the Lakers Gameday Page
We took a look at the Lakers – Sixers contest in Indiana while it was happening, entering a thought or three each quarter as the Lakers looked for their third straight road win.

Inactives
Lakers: D.J. Mbenga
Sixers: Primoz Brezec

Starters
Lakers: Fisher, Bryant, Artest, Gasol and Bynum
Sixers: Jrue Holiday*, Allen Iverson, Andre Iguodala, Elton Brand, Samuel Dalembert
*Assistant coach Brian Shaw suggested that Holiday may be starting because he’s more willing to play to Allen Iverson’s strengths than Lou Williams, the former starter, may do naturally. Williams, like Iverson, is more of a shoot-first guard.

Sixers Pregame Notes
To read about how the Sixers like to play, the change in their starting lineup, last season’s matchups between the teams and more CLICK HERE.

59443242First Quarter
6:53 An observation from the first four-plus minutes of play: Ron Artest seems to be moving better on his feet. He told Phil Jackson before the game that his feet were both feeling better, certainly good news since he’d been battling plantar fasciitis on both feet for the past few weeks. The result was three early hoops for L.A.’s only three field goals, the first coming after his defensive steal and sprint up the floor.

5:35 Thought you should know that Philly’s mascot is a rabbit named “Hip Hop.” Get it? Yeah. In basketball news, Shannon Brown checked in for Kobe Bryant, who’d committed two fouls.

0:33.9 Lamar Odom managed L.A.’s second bench bucket with a baseline jumper to give L.A. its first lead of the quarter after a sluggish 7-for-20 start (35 percent); moments later, Jordan Farmar’s jumper rimmed out, as L.A. took a 19-18 lead into the second quarter. The Sixers shot poorly as well, managing just 35 percent from the field including 0-for-3′s from Dalembert and A.I. (Iverson, not Iggy).

Second Quarter
8:41 Bryant’s first field goal in four attempts came off a nice out of bounds play, the result of which was a two-handed dunk. Shannon Brown, meanwhile, snapped the nets on two high-arching jumpers as L.A. opened a 31-23 lead.

6:21 “Cutting down the paint, Odom hammers it in!” – Spero Dedes, calling the play for us as Odom went on a three-step burst through the lane before slamming home a left-handed flush that put the Lakers up by 10. Moments later, Gasol’s tip in of Bryant’s miss capped a 16-4 Lakers run as L.A. continued to handle its business against on-paper inferior foes, as it had in Washington and Indiana.

3:25 Gasol went on a scoring binge in the second quarter with 10 points on 4-of-4 shooting, adding five assists and three boards to get to 10, five and five (triple-double watch) with time to spare in the half. He’d thus accounted for 20 of L.A.’s 26 points in the quarter to that point, which had built a double-digit lead that dipped only a point at halftime to 51-42. This despite Bryant making only 1-of-7 shots … but at least my cab driver on the way to the arena honked five times and frantically waved when seeing Kobe get off the bus upon arrival (Kobe waved).

59443156Third Quarter
11:13 Anytime Kobe appears to injure anything, near panic enters for those associated with Purple and Gold, but after appearing to tweak his left ankle and talking to Gary Vitti about it during a time out, Bryant simply walked it off … then picked Iguodala’s pocket … then hit a jumper. So no worries, after all.

8:02 Philly, to its credit, responded to L.A.’s opening salvo with a 10-1 run to bring the lead back to single digits at nine. Elton Brand led the way with back-to-back baseline jumpers to get himself to a game-high 15 points, and added an assist to Iggy.

2:31 All of a sudden, Allen Iverson turned into All Star starter A.I., going on a scoring binge to the tune of 15 points in the quarter, bringing the 76ers within just three points after L.A. had led by 16 points. But the Lakers happened to have the No. 13 pick in A.I.’s 1996 draft class, Kobe Bryant (A.I. was No. 1), and Bryant continued to shake off that knee tweak as he scored the final six points of the period and shifted over to Iverson on defense. No. 24 is something else … Lakers by nine after three, 76-67.

Fourth Quarter
9:53 Speaking of Kobe … he didn’t slow down in the fourth, nailing three more shots to get to 8-of-10 in the second half, scoring 20 of his 22 points. The fans, a select few of whom likely saw him play at nearby Lower Merion High School, were clamoring for more.

7:53 The 76ers weren’t quite ready to die, as Iverson’s jumper made it a six-point game heading into the home stretch.

3:00 Artest, who had scored just two points since the first quarter, nailed a big three to push L.A.’s lead to 11 as the game drew to a close. Moments later, he dropped another dagger triple to get to 18 points – his highest scoring game since November 28 against Golden State. The Lakers ended up winning 99-91 for the team’s third straight impressive/easy road victory, bringing the team to a 4-2 mark on the eight-game trip.

Next up is a Sunday showdown in Boston. Until then, your numbers:

POSTGAME NUMBERS
1 Double-double for the Lakers in a relatively low-scoring game, as Pau Gasol went for 19 points and 10 rebounds, plus five assists.

2 First half points for Kobe Bryant on 1-of-7 shooting. Of course, he nailed 9-of-15 in the second half to finish with a game-high 24 points.

15 Points in the third quarter for Allen Iverson, who suddenly caught fire as if he were playing in the 2001 NBA Finals again. Kobe Bryant switched over to him on defense, however, and A.I. scored just six in the fourth quarter.

18 Points scored by Ron Artest, his highest output since Nov. 28 against Golden State, including two clutch fourth quarter three-pointers that sealed the win.

18 Also the number of turnovers committed by Philly, where as the Lakers had only 10.