Lakers 124, Warriors 121: Running Diary

59918506Lakers – Warriors Gameday Page
We took a look at the Lakers – Warriors contest in Golden State while it was happening, entering a thought or three each quarter as the Lakers looked to win a second straight road game.

Lakers: Luke Walton
Warriors: Ronny Turiaf, Andris Biedrins

Lakers: Fisher, Bryant, Artest, Gasol and Bynum
Warriors: Stephen Curry, Monta Ellis, Corey Maggette, Anthony Tolliver, Chris Hunter

Pregame Notes
Kobe Bryant showed up a few hours early in Oakland to get some additional shots up, which Derek Fisher later explained is something he’d prefer to do more often but hasn’t been able to as much this season due to various injuries. We also heard from Phil Jackson, which you can read about by CLICKING HERE.

59918046First Quarter
7:30 The Lakers were hotter than Sasha Vujacic after getting called for a foul to start the game, nailing all six of their shots and all three free throws, but three turnovers and two threes from D-League call up Anthony Tolliver kept Golden State within two points. L.A. then promptly missed its next six shots in a 16-all tie. Not yet into the game was D.J. Mbenga, whom I bring up as he sat down with us for an extended interview in which he discussed building a basketball court in his native Congo with Kobe Bryant’s name on it, fashion, his nickname and much more.

2:52 Nobody was happier that Ron Artest drained two wide open 3-pointers than Kobe Bryant, who assisted on each when the Warriors’ defense overcompensated on the other side of the floor. Artest has been L.A.’s best 3-point shooter this season, flirting with 40 percent for most of the year before dipping to around 38 percent of late. Kobe knows quite well how much more difficult the Lakers are to beat if Artest’s 3-ball is going down, and went immediately towards Ron Ron with a “Yeah boy!” look after the second make.

0:02.5 Pau Gasol was efficient and effective throughout the first, matching Kobe’s nine points on 4-of-5 shooting, plus three rebounds and an assist. One area that he wasn’t happy with: his free throw shooting. The Spaniard clanked his first three before making the fourth a game after shooting just 1-of-5, but he remains near 80 percent on the season. Nonetheless, L.A. took a 39-32 lead into the second quarter.

Second Quarter
9:02 After a Steve-Kerr-circa-1996 efficient offensive first quarter that saw L.A. dish 13 assists on 14 field goals (66.7 percent shooting), the team’s first field goal of the second came three minutes in on an Odom put back. In related news, G.S. stayed within three points.

599180593:36 More of the same continued through the second, L.A. scoring easily but missing free throws, and giving up a bit more than they liked defensively. Bryant earned a trip to the line but missed the second, the seventh miss of the half from the Purple and Gold, and C.J. Watson hit a J at the other end to bring his squad within one at 57-56. A clear positive for the Lakers, however: balance. Kobe had taken nine shots, Gasol six, Artest and Bynum five and Odom four.

2:03 Before the game, Phil Jackson warned against the Lakers turning the ball over, recognizing that it would lead directly to run outs and points at the other end for the Warriors. Oops. Bynum tried a cross court pass that was easily intercepted by Watson and turned into a layup, giving G.S. a 59-57 lead, L.A. already totaling 10 turnovers. It got worse quickly, the Lakers committing five more turnovers in the final two minutes to help the Warriors claim a 65-59 halftime lead. Jackson may as well have gone reverse psychology and said “Turn the ball over please.” Fortunately for L.A., a six-point deficit to the Warriors at halftime isn’t exactly intimidating, particularly with how easily scoring came when not turning it over (58.3 percent shooting, 20 free throw attempts).

Third Quarter
9:57 Great defense to start the third could have fairly been expected for a Lakers’ team that’s done so quite frequently (not frankly), but three quick field goals, including a Stephen Curry three, pushed Golden State’s lead to nine, its highest of the game.

4:25 Remember when G.S. was up nine? Since then, the Lakers did indeed put up the bunker (WWI style? No? OK.) on defense and converted nearly without fail at the other end, putting together a 20-5 run that created a 83-78 lead when Gasol followed Bynum’s dunk with a 7-foot hook. The two bigs had combined for 36 points (20 for Pau) and 19 rebounds (12 for Bynum) at that point to lead the Lakers.

0:33.7 With an angry, to quite angry expression on his face after not getting what he thought were a series of fouls called on Warriors’ reaches, Bryant finally get to the line in transition and sank both foul shots to cap a 35-22 quarter dominated by L.A. Bryant had reached his season high of eight turnovers, but also managed 20 points with four assists heading into the final quarter.

59918043Fourth Quarter
10:09 Monta Ellis, the NBA’s sixth leading scorer with 25.6 points per game, trailing only LeBron, Durant, Carmelo, Kobe and Wade, couldn’t have dropped a shot into the Pacific Ocean off the Bay Bridge on the way into Oakland tonight. He was only 2-for-19 (10.5 percent) after another missed layup. In a slight bit of fairness, he was charged with guarding Kobe at the other end for much of the game. Meanwhile, Odom went the other way with efficiency, making all six of his attempts for 15 points with nine boards, while Gasol was 9-of-12 for 22 points.

3:18 Curry’s fifth three was but a temporary lifeline for the Warriors, as Bryant immediately answered with a three of his own, and Fisher followed with an alley-oop to Gasol in transition to put the Lakers up 119-108 with time running out on G.S.

0:23.0 Wait a second… Ellis, who as we mentioned literally couldn’t throw a stone in the ocean from a boat, pulled up for a transition three after forcing Bryant’s ninth turnover (Kobe thought it was a foul and had a good argument) to cap a super-quick 9-0 run to an almost indifferent Lakers team that made it just a two-point margin. Golden State still had to foul, and Shannon Brown made both free throws with 13.9 seconds to play. After an ensuing Ellis layup and Bryant’s improbable miss of 1-of-2 free throws, both Curry and Ellis had looks at potential game-tying threes, but both missed. The final attempt, from Ellis, seemed to hang on the rim for about three seconds, bouncing this way and that, before ultimately spinning out. Lakers win, barely.

Up next for the Purple and Gold is a Tuesday evening tilt against Sacramento, but until then, your numbers:

9 Turnovers for Kobe Bryant, to surpass his previous season high of eight in Chicago on Dec. 15. Andrew Bynum added eight turnovers of his own (Golden State had only five as a team to L.A.’s 24), masking otherwise good games from both players. Kobe finished with a team-high 28 points with four assists, while Bynum was good for 19-and-14 double-double with three blocks.

21.7 Field goal percentage for Monta Ellis, who started just 2-of-19 from the field before making three of his final four attempts.

35 Total rebounds snatched by Bynum (14), Pau Gasol (nine) and Lamar Odom (12) who controlled the paint throughout for L.A. That was more than Golden State’s total of 29 rebounds; the Lakers finished with 56 as a team, spurred in part by the turnover discrepancy.

40 Minutes played by Kobe Bryant on the front end of a back-to-back.

77.3 Combined shooting percentage for Odom (7-of-9) and Gasol (10-of-13) for 17 and 26 points, respectively.