Monthly Archive for March, 2010

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Lakers 92, Spurs 83: Running Diary

60000226Lakers – Spurs Gameday Page
We took a look at the Lakers – Spurs contest in San Antonio while it was happening, entering a thought or three each quarter as the Lakers looked to win for the seventh straight time and fourth straight on the road.

Lakers: Luke Walton (back)
Spurs: Tony Parker (hand)

Lakers: Fisher, Bryant, Artest, Odom and Gasol
Spurs: George Hill, Manu Ginobili, Richard Jefferson, Tim Duncan, Antonio McDyess

Knocking Down the Three-Pointer
As Phil Jackson explained before the game, there’s a reason the Lakers don’t shoot threes particularly well during the regular season … it’s not part of the focus:

We were always a late three-point shooting team. We don’t spend a lot of time parking guys in corners like a lot of teams do because we have a different kind of offense. Our three-point shots come out of a different type of action. We do focus on it in the later part of the season. I think guys get their legs and becoming better shooters as the season goes on, so we look forward to some guys hitting their stride a little bit now.

For the full pregame preview, CLICK HERE.

60000229First Quarter
7:28 Even with Andrew Bynum out for the second straight game (strained Achilles), L.A. has a plethora of low post options, including Ron Artest, who used an up-and-under move around Richard Jefferson for hoop No. 1. On the next possession, Lamar Odom drove right around Antonio McDyess and a too-late-to-help Tim Duncan for a lefty layup. Minutes later, Odom added a tough layup amidst traffic and then a two-handed dunk after Kobe Bryant’s bullet pass to put L.A. up 10-6, looking good early. Speaking of Kobe … he became the NBA’s 12th all-time leading scorer with a jumper, allowing him to surpass Alex English.

4:00 It wasn’t 1990′s Grant Hill, but George Hill who nailed back-to-back threes to put the Spurs up 21-14 as the Lakers went suddenly Pacific-Ocean-in-December cold from the field. Ginobili had hit back-to-back threes himself a minute earlier, giving San Antonio 12 quick points from distance, not exactly what the Lakers had in mind.

0:01.5 Spurred on by some newfound energy in the form of Shannon Brown, Jordan Farmar and D.J. Mbenga on D, L.A. kept the Spurs from scoring in the final two minutes while going on a 6-0 run capped by a beautiful play from Odom. First, LO swatted Jefferson near the rim, then collected the ball and sprinted up the court for a driving right-handed layup just before the quarter closed. In other Lamar news, he was working out with his personal trainer at the team hotel today (as is customary) as I was, and looked at the TV while ESPN’s SportsNation discussed the Kim Kardashian’s (Odom’s sister in law) reported break up from Saints RB Reggie Bush.

59265495Second Quarter
7:04 The Spurs almost immediately reclaimed the momentum L.A. had gained out of the first, getting two more three-pointers from Ginobili and Matt Bonner before a Kobe layup and Jordan Farmar three-pointer cut the deficit to five. By the way, a few of us went to a movie in downtown San Antonio last night for $4.00. FYI.

4:30 Phil Jackson channeled Jack Nicholson on the stand in “A Few Good Men” when Pau got stripped by Hill after a rebound. Not a good thing. The Spaniard, who’d been so good of late, had a rough start with four points and four boards, but he held Duncan to 1-of-5 shooting for just two points on defense.

0:10.8 After Farmar’s three cut San Antonio’s lead to just one with 2:25 remaining, the Lakers managed just two points for the rest of the half and the Spurs closed with a 6-0 run to take a 48-41 margin into the halftime tunnel. The Lakers shot 43.9 percent from the field, led by 12 points from Odom and 10 from Bryant plus eight off the bench from Farmar. The Spurs got 32 of their 48 points from Hill (20) and Ginobili (12).

60000235Third Quarter
8:57 After a solid all-around first half, Artest picked the Lakers up for a few minutes to start the third, doing the following in sequence: nailing a three, stealing the ball from Jefferson and feeding Gasol with a nice pass leading to two free throws. In the process, L.A. cut the Spurs lead to two.

5:09 You’re familiar with the “Tim Duncan Face” popularized in writing by ESPN’s Bill Simmons, right? It’s basically the “I’ve never committed a foul, ever!” look, and we saw a big one as Artest took him to the rim in transition … but Duncan ended up being right as the foul was charged to Bonner. Two free throws still resulted two possessions after Artest had grabbed his eighth rebound and put it back for two points, and he followed with yet another great play by picking Ginobili’s pocket and finishing a layup at the other end.

0:10.7 L.A. got a big boost from Shannon Brown’s back-to-back 3-pointers in a 38-second stretch, then another from Odom, who nailed his own three (L.A.’s fifth of the quarter) then drew a foul and hit both free throws with 10 seconds remaining to cap a 30-18 quarter. L.A. had thus turned a 7-point halftime deficit into a 5-point lead. Artest was the best player on the floor in the period while Bryant got some additional rest.

60000234Fourth Quarter
8:52 It wasn’t just Brown giving L.A. a bench boost from three as Farmar nailed his third of the game to put L.A. up 75-73 after a 7-0 Spurs run to start the quarter. That made the two backup guards 5-of-6 from distance, a significant bench boost that Jackson requested before the game.

3:29 A championship-worthy 16-3 run from L.A. was capped by a wide-open Kobe three in the corner that made it 87-76 Lakers. The Purple and Gold were fantastic on defense, spurred on by the everywhere-at-once Artest, whose fourth steal led to the Bryant triple. It was the second three of that stretch for Kobe, who then nailed a baseline jumper to reach 24 points.

0:39.8 A solid individual effort from Odom was capped by his layup for L.A.’s final points, getting him to 19 points with 13 rebounds, two assists, a block and a steal as the Lakers emerged with a 92-83 victory. The Lakers held the Spurs to only 35 second half points, and got a gem of an all-around game from Artest, who finished with 16 points, eight rebounds, five steals, three assists and a block.

The win marks L.A.’s seventh straight overall and fourth straight on the road leading into Friday night’s contest in Oklahoma City. Until then, your numbers:

5 Steals for Ron Artest, which actually seems low for how active and intimidating he was on defense throughout an entirely stellar evening. He added 16 points, eight rebounds, three assists and one block.

6 Points for Tim Duncan on 2-of-11 shooting, thanks in part to the defensive effort of Pau Gasol. The Spaniard swatted two of Duncan’s shots in 1-on-1 situations and grabbed 12 rebounds while taking only 11 shots, making four, for 10 points.

10 Three-pointers nailed by the Lakers, including three from Jordan Farmar and two from Shannon Brown off the bench.

20 Points in the first half for George Hill, helping the Spurs build a 7-point lead at the break. Hill, however, managed just one point in the second half.

24 Points to lead L.A. on only 16 shots for Kobe Bryant, who made 11 including two huge 3-pointers late in the fourth quarter. Bryant played distributor with five assists in the first three quarter, then scored 10 in the fourth to take the Lakers home.

Lakers Pregame: Bynum Feeling Better

While addressing the media before L.A.’s Wednesday night tilt against San Antonio, Phil Jackson was asked whether or not Andrew Bynum could play on the team’s current 5-game road trip.

“It’s interesting … I haven’t ruled it out, but I haven’t even thought about it in those terms,” said L.A.’s coach. “(Bynum) did say he’s feeling a lot better today. I can’t see that happening right now, but that’s a hopeful note.”

Jackson added that Bynum has worn his walking boot at times and taken it off at others, such as in the pregame locker room when he sat barefoot reading a book.

The Lakers play Oklahoma City on Friday, Houston on Saturday, New Orleans on Monday and Atlanta on Wednesday.

Lakers – Spurs Preview

59572787As has become typical of Gregg Popovich Spurs teams, the Silver and Black are picking up their play as the playoffs approach, even with starting point guard Tony Parker going on the shelf on March 6 with a hand injury, due to return in mid April.

In fact, the Spurs have gone 9-3 in March* after a 6-5 February, their only three losses coming at Cleveland by two points, at Orlando and at Atlanta in overtime.
*This comes as no surprise, since the Spurs are the NBA’s best March team since Tim Duncan was drafted in 1997, going 152-54 for a .738 winning percentage (L.A. is second at 134-69, .660).

In related news, Manu Ginobili has been playing like … a healthy Manu Ginobili, averaging 21.2 points and 5.7 assists while shooting 53 percent from the field and 45 percent from 3-point range in March. Throw in solid bench production, Tim Duncan’s consistency and an improving Richard Jefferson and the Spurs are dangerous.

“(Ginobili’s improved play) helps a lot and I think their bench has been very successful,” said Jackson said after the team photo on Tuesday. “They had a game the other night against Golden State where (Tim) Duncan played 13 minutes and it was one of the highest scoring games they’ve ever had. It just says something about their bench coming to life and their players all supporting one another.”

The Spurs’ bench, which leads the NBA in scoring (40.3) and assists (9.0) [Ginobili's 35 games off the pine don't hurt the averages] consists of Roger Mason Jr., Matt Bonner, DeJuan Blair, Keith Bogans, while Malik Hairston gets some minutes from time to time. Second-round draft pick Blair leads the bench in points (7.7) and rebounds (6.1), Bonner chips in 6.9 points and Mason 6.6.

George Hill started the season on the bench before earning a starting spot even before Parker got hurt, and he’s playing his best ball of late, scoring a season-high 27 points in San Antonio’s 99-96 win over Oklahoma City on Monday.

59265495First Round Meeting Looming?
When the Lakers and Spurs have met in the playoffs five times throughout a decade they’ve collectively dominated (seven of 10 championship isn’t bad), it hasn’t been in the first round, not once:

2001 Western Finals (4-0 Lakers)
’02 Western Semis (4-2 Lakers)
’03 Western Semis (4-2 Spurs)
’04 Western Semis (4-2 Lakers)
’08 Western Finals (4-1 Lakers)

But this season, the first round remains a distinct possibility, with the Spurs currently just a game out of the No. 8 slot and L.A. in first place, five-and-a-half games ahead of Denver and Dallas. San Antonio and Oklahoma City – whom the Lakers play on Friday – share a 42-27 mark, two games behind Phoenix for the No. 6 slot, while Portland checks in at 42-29.

While San Antonio’s been playing good basketball, they face a very difficult schedule that includes two home and away meetings with the Lakers, home games against Cleveland (56-15), Orlando (50-21) and Memphis (38-33) and road tilts against Boston (45-25), Phoenix (45-26), Dallas (46-24) and Denver (47-23). Ten of S.A.’s 13 games come against teams that are above .500, eight against teams with Top 10 NBA records.

The Thunder’s schedule is also difficult, including home games against Houston, the Lakers, Portland, Denver, Phoenix and Memphis and road contests at Boston, Dallas, Utah and Portland.

The Trail Blazers, however, have a softer schedule, the toughest games coming home against Dallas (twice) and Oklahoma City and roadies including at Denver and the Lakers.

59265402The Numbers
The Lakers logically have a statistical edge over San Antonio, as shown with the majority of these numbers:

- L.A. is sixth in the NBA in scoring and 10th in points allowed, while S.A. is 14th in scoring and 8th in points allowed.
- L.A. ranks fifth in field goal defense and the Spurs 12th.
- The Lakers lead the NBA in rebounding while San Antonio ranks 11th.
- L.A. is eighth in the NBA in steals per game, S.A. 26th.
- The Lakers rank 10th in the league from the free throw line and the Spurs 20th.
- L.A. commits the 2nd fewest personal fouls, S.A. 14th.

The Spurs do have their areas of advantage:

- San Antonio shoots the ball very well, ranking sixth in field goal percentage and 3-point percentage. The Lakers come in at 13th from the field and 19th from three.
- The Spurs are third in the NBA at fewest offensive boards allowed, while the Lakers are 18th.
- S.A. ranks fifth in assists, the Lakers 14th.

Pau Gasol Named Western Player of the Week

blog_100322gasolLakers’ forward Pau Gasol was on Monday named the Western Conference Player of the Week for games played March 15-21.

The Spaniard was terrific during L.A.’s 4-0 stretch, averaging 24.8 points on .685 shooting (third in the NBA) alongside 11.8 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1.0 block, leading the team to W’s over Golden State, Sacramento, Minnesota and Washington.

Gasol double-doubled three times, capped by a 28-point, 14-rebound performance at Sacramento.

Here’s a game-by-game recap of Gasol’s winning week:

- March 15 @ Golden State: Scored 26 points, grabbed nine rebounds and dished four assists in a 124-121 win over the Warriors.
- March 16 @ Sacramento: Notched a season-high 28 points, 12 rebounds and four assists in a 106-99 victory over the Kings.
- March 19 vs. Minnesota: Posted 17 points, 14 rebounds and four assists in a 104-96 win over the Timberwolves.
- March 21 vs. Washington: Matched his season high with 28 points and added 12 rebounds and three assists in a 99-92 win over the Wizards.

Paul Pierce won the award in the East with his performance in Boston’s 4-0 week.

Bryant Plays 40 Minutes That Feel Like 32

59977269One initially surprising number from the box score of Sunday night’s 99-92 Lakers win over Washington is Kobe Bryant’s minute total: 39:47.

After all, the Lakers were up by around 20 points for most of the game after Bryant scored 20 himself in the second quarter alone to give the Lakers a 59-33 lead at the half. Phil Jackson generally likes to give Bryant extra rest if possible, and while he pulled Kobe out for good with 4:02 remaining and L.A. up 16 points, No. 24 had played nearly 40 minutes.

After the game, however, Kobe explained that 40 minutes on the box score isn’t always exactly 40 minutes on his legs.

“It just depends on the game and situation,” he said. “Tonight I played almost 40 minutes, but they were easy 40 minutes. I didn’t really have to over exert myself. I pushed hard in the second quarter, did my job, extended the ball game and then just kind of coasted the rest of the way.”

In other words, 40 minutes against the 21-47 Washington Wizards at home generally isn’t going to feel like 40 minutes on the road in San Antonio might on Wednesday evening.

For the season, Bryant ranks eighth in the NBA in minutes played with 38.9 per game, two more than teammate Pau Gasol (36.8), and both expect to stay around their minute totals – particularly in the absence of Andrew Bynum – during L.A.’s 5-game road trip as the team tries to lock up home court advantage in the Western Conference.

Currently, the Lakers hold a 5-game lead over Denver (47-23) and a 5.5-game edge over Dallas (46-23) with 11 games to play.

And as Kobe intimated, don’t sweat his playing a few more minutes down the stretch if he has to. He can certainly take care of himself.

Lakers 99, Wizards 92: Running Diary

59976671Lakers – Wizards Gameday Page
We took a look at the Lakers – Wizards contest in Los Angeles while it was happening, entering a thought or three each quarter as the Lakers looked to win for the sixth straight time.

Lakers: Luke Walton (back)
Wizards: Josh Howard

Lakers: Fisher, Bryant, Artest, Gasol and Bynum
Wizards: Shaun Livingston, Mike Miller, Al Thornton, Andray Blatche, JaVale McGee

How L.A. Plays Without Bynum
Before the contest, Lakers Coach Phil Jackson discussed how the Lakers are different sans Andrew Bynum, who will be out at least a week after straining his Achilles tendon in the third quarter of L.A.’s Friday night win over Minnesota. In tonight’s running diary, we’ll keep primarily focused on how the Lakers play without the big man, which Jackson suggested would mirror almost precisely what the team did last season when Bynum was out for more than two months (the gist: more inside-outside than inside-inside).

59976672First Quarter
8:04 Andrew Bynum’s absence was notable in the early portion of the first, since that is often when he gets the majority of his shot attempts. Without the big man to feed, five different Lakers attempted a shot, mostly from the perimeter, making 3-of-9 to take a 6-4 lead (the Wiz missed their first five shots).

4:11 It goes without saying that L.A. would much prefer to have Bynum playing, but one by-product of his absence that’s positive for the Lakers is the increased touches for Pau Gasol. So skilled is the Spaniard, the Lakers nearly always benefit when he has the ball on offense, as shown with his 10 points and four rebounds in the first ten minutes to put his team up 14-10. His hoops included a pretty baseline hook and an up-and-under layup that should be illegal for 7-footers in fairness to the rest of the league.

0:18.9 An obvious necessity for the Lakers is some additional help off the bench with Lamar Odom in a starting role, and Shannon Brown provided as much at the close of the first by backing up a baseline jumper with a right wing 3-pointer that put L.A. up 24-16. Wizards guard Randy Foye managed a buzzer-beating jumper at the other end to make it a 6-point margin after one.

Second Quarter
6:17 Josh Powell and D.J. Mbenga will each see minutes in Bynum’s absence depending on the matchup, and since the Wizards are a smaller team, that meant more Powell and less Mbenga on Sunday. In his first eight minutes, Powell was effective, adding an and-1 layup off a nice move in the paint* to a swished perimeter jumper. After the and-1, Kobe Bryant and Odom ran over to Powell and alternately slapped the back of his head in approval, which shouldn’t surprise as Powell is one of the most popular guys in the locker room.
*Powell’s been working on that move in practice all season.

4:25 A more aggressive Kobe is to be expected, and we saw as much as No. 24 put up 12 shots in the first 18 minutes he played, making six to get to 13 points with his team up 44-29 after a 3-pointer from the left wing. Minutes later, he’d nail back-to-back triples once again to get to 19 points, not to mention putting the Wizards in 54-33 hole.

1:10 Let’s make that four three-pointers for Kobe in the quarter, who caught fire NBA JAM style (it’s coming back soon!) by nailing his first three and felt compelled to jack another while on fire (swish). Bryant keyed L.A.’s 13-0 run to close the second quarter, affording the Lakers a 59-33 lead at the half. Note that Washington is among the worst teams in the league, but the first half showed that the Lakers know how to play without Bynum at least for a short time.

59976728Third Quarter
11:40 Against certain bigger teams, the Lakers will certainly miss Bynum’s defensive paint presence, but the Wizards barely run anything through center JaVale McGee and many of Andray Blatche’s touches come outside of the paint as well (think Kevin Garnett’s plays in Minnesota, since Flip Saunders is the coach). With Gasol able to leak into the paint and cut off potential drivers, Odom held Blatche to just 2-of-10 shooting in the first half, then swatted his first shot of the third. This is notable as Blatche came into the game averaging 20 points and 7.5 rebounds a game in March.

4:15 Mentioned earlier why it’s always good to get more touches for Gasol, which he continued to prove by throwing down a dunk after establishing great post position, his seventh make in 10 attempts. He also made all eight of his foul shots to reach 22 points with seven boards and three assists is his first 25 minutes of burn.

0:29.1 To continue the theme of collectively stepping up as a unit, Ron Artest got hot in the third quarter, making 5-of-6 shots to score 11 of his 16 points. His defense of Al Thornton was also notable, netting three steals for the team’s leader in thefts.

Fourth Quarter
9:00 Perhaps in part to keep rotations in order without Bynum, Jackson started Gasol and Bryant in the fourth quarter, but the Lakers still managed to go three minutes without scoring a point. The Wizards went for seven straight at the other end, but Brown’s ensuing 3-pointer and two foul shots quickly pushed the lead back to 20.

5:23 To their credit, the Wizards didn’t roll over despite being down by 20 for most of the game, even getting to within 13 on a Nick Young 3-pointer. Brown promptly answered with his third three of the game, however, and Bryant (40 minutes) finally left the game at the 4:02 mark.

0:45.2 Per usual, the final minutes of a sure win were more interesting to assembled fans looking for Jack In The Box tacos. Those assembled often seem to think that the Lakers need to score 100 points in order to assure the two free tacos, but actually, L.A. needs only to win and hold their opponent under 100. Yet when Sasha Vujacic missed a technical and Gasol missed the second of two, the Lakers stayed at 99 points (Washington with 89), producing a collective groan at STAPLES. Any frowns would soon be turned upside down upon receiving coupons at the exits, of course.

With the 99-92 victory (the Wiz outscored the Lakers 32-17 in the fourth when L.A. stuck their car in cruise control), L.A. improved to 52-18 on the season, winning for the sixth straight time heading into the team’s 5-game road trip.

In summation, it’s difficult to judge how the Lakers will look for the duration of Bynum’s absence after just one game against a team like the Wizards, but the team’s all-around talent clearly remains superior and is more than enough to keep the team on a positive course until the big man returns.

Until next time, your numbers:

1 Point Kobe Bryant needs to tie Alex English for 12th on the NBA’s all-time scoring list. Bryant needed 26 to surpass English, and scored 24 through three quarters. He played for eight minutes and change in the fourth without attempting a shot.

12 Free throws made by Pau Gasol, who began the game 10-of-10 before missing two of his final four.

13 Rebounds for Lamar Odom, helping the Lakers to a 37-31 edge on the glass. He added a team-high six assists.

20 Points for Kobe in the second quarter alone on the strength of four 3-pointers and 8-of-11 shooting.

28 Points for Gasol to lead the Lakers, matching his season high. The Spaniard, sliding over to center in the absence of Andrew Bynum, added 12 rebounds and three dimes with a block.

Jackson Talks Bynum

Before Sunday’s game against Washington, Lakers Coach Phil Jackson answered a few questions about Andrew Bynum and his Achilles tendon strain.

Here’s the gist:

Q: On moving forward in the short term:
Jackson: I think we’re ready to move forward. This is a team that is more of a speed team (now). We increase the volume of shots, we increase the tempo of the game we play. It will be a lot different team. We’ll play outside-inside a little bit more than (when) Andrew (is playing).

Q: On if the Lakers will be able to adjust back to how they were playing before Bynum got hurt when he gets back:
Jackson: I think so. I think this team has adjusted and (is) adaptable to (having) Andrew in and out of the lineup in the last three years so we can do that.

Q: On being optimistic about his return (Bynum is set to be reevaluated in one week):
Jackson: The best thing I heard today is the fact that he felt better from day one to day two.

Jackson also explained that the toughest part of the injury is that Bynum will have trouble staying in the same cardiovascular shape he was in since the Achilles injury limits his activity level until it’s better.

Fan Jam Sold Out for Sunday

PrintDue to the overwhelming support of our fans, the second day of Lakers Fan Jam is sold out. There will be no walk-up tickets sold at the Convention Center on Sunday.

“We had an amazing turnout from the best fans in sports today,” said Lakers Spokesman John Black. “We’re thankful to have so much support from the Lakers community.”

For those possessing tickets we look forward to seeing you for another fun-filled day of Lakers Fan Jam.

Thank you to everyone for making this event such a success.

MRI Confirms Bynum’s Strained, Not Torn, Achilles

An MRI taken Saturday morning confirmed that Andrew Bynum suffered a strained Achilles tendon during the third quarter of L.A.’s Friday night win over Minnesota.

The good news is that there is no tear or rupture.

“It’s not a torn Achilles,” said Phil Jackson on Saturday. “We just hope that the time is not extended. He’s a very optimistic young man, so (his reaction) wasn’t that bad. I was pleased with that.”

Bynum will be reevaluated in a week, and will not play until that time, meaning that the young center will definitely miss Sunday’s game against Washington, and road games at San Antonio (Wednesday) and Oklahoma City (Friday) and most likely Houston (Saturday).

L.A. then plays in New Orleans on Monday, March 29, and in Atlanta on March 31.

Jackson said that Lamar Odom would start in Bynum’s place, moving Pau Gasol over to the center position.

Lakers Beat Wolves; Bynum Leaves in Third

59956251The good news: the Lakers won for the fifth straight time on Friday night at STAPLES Center, getting 22 points and 13 assists from Kobe Bryant to send former Lakers assistant coach Kurt Rambis and his Timberwolves to their 12th straight loss with a 104-96 result.

The bad news: Andrew Bynum left the game early in the third quarter with a left Achilles strain, though he did manage to run up and down the court before checking out and exiting to the locker room under his own power.

Bynum, who scored 11 points on 4-of-5 shooting with five rebounds in 20 minutes, will be re-evaluated on Saturday.

“We’re a little concerned, he’ll probably miss a little while,” said Phil Jackson. “We’ll have to use our practice tomorrow to reassess how we’re going to play without Andrew for a little bit here.”

59956716The proverbial show had to go on, of course (especially with Tom Cruise, Katie Holmes, Leonardo DiCaprio, Penelope Cruz, Javier Bardem and Jack Nicholson sitting courtside), and after the Lakers gave up a 10-point halftime lead as Minnesota claimed a 68-66 edge late in the third, L.A. turned the defense back up and cruised to an 8-point victory.

Pau Gasol continued a red hot stretch that featured 76 percent shooting in his past three games to score 17 points on 7-of-13 plus a team-high 14 rebounds, while Bryant had nine of his season-high 13 assists in the first half alone. L.A.’s bench chipped in 42 points, including 18 from Lamar Odom, who nailed four 3-pointers.

As the Lakers were up comfortably for most of the game, Bryant played just 32 minutes, Ron Artest 33, Gasol 34 and least of all Derek Fisher (16), as Jackson gave some addition run to Jordan Farmar.

Struggling with his shooting of late, Farmar had managed to hit just 2-of-17 field goals in his last five games while playing sporadically, but he managed 4-of-8 makes and 3-of-4 free throws for 12 points off the pine, plus six rebounds and two assists in 27 minutes.

Playing at STAPLES for the first time in 10 days, the Lakers shot poorly, making only 41.5 percent of their attempts, but made much of their money at the free throw line in making 29-of-35 attempts as the Wolves took only 11 themselves, making eight. Kevin Love notched a 19-point, 11-rebound double-double for Minnesota, and Darko Milicic was effective inside with 16 points and 12 boards before leaving with an injury late in the game.

Speaking of injuries … Bynum’s comes at an unfortunate time as he had been playing his best basketball of the season, averaging 15.9 points, 9.4 rebounds and 1.8 blocks on 56.8 shooting in March, including averages of 20.0 points, 10.3 rebounds and 2.0 blocks on 63.3 percent shooting in his last four contests.

Make sure to check tomorrow for a Bynum update, but until then, your numbers:

1 Courtside high-five given to Tom Cruise by Kobe Bryant, in the second quarter as Andrew Bynum took the first of two free throws. That’s always fun.

9 Assists for Kobe Bryant in the first half alone. He finished with 13 on the game, a season high.

14 Rebounds from Pau Gasol to lead the Lakers. He’s averaging 11 boards a game on the season, the most on the team.

24 More free throws taken by the Lakers than the Wolves.

41.5 L.A.’s shooting percentage in their first game at STAPLES Center in 10 days.