Lakers 98, Kings 95: Vegas Running Diary

62042289We were courtside at L.A.’s first stateside preseason game, which took place on Wednesday evening at the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas. Below is a running diary of the contest, comments drawn in large part from our @LakersReporter Twitter account, with a brief summary at the bottom in case you missed anything:

Starters
Lakers: Fisher, Bryant, Artest, Odom and Gasol
Kings: Tyreke Evans, Antoine Wright, Donte Greene, Carl Landry and DeMarcus Cousins

FIRST QUARTER
11:45 Phil Jackson often either calls Fisher’s number to start the game or lets Fisher call his own number … worked here, elbow J good. On the next possession, rookie DeMarcus Cousins got isolated on Pau Gasol, and had to foul after a nice move across the lane, making it 3-0 L.A. early in front of a 90 percent Lakers crowd.

8:00 I almost got trucked by 6-10 Donte Greene when a loose ball came straight at me off a deflection, but he managed to stop just short of the press table under the hoop. He then looked up at me, pointed to my lap top, and said “I woulda jumped over, but didn’t want to hit your lap top man.” Thanks, Donte. Respect. Meanwhile, a 10-2 Kings run put SAC up 10-5, with Kobe missing his first three shots.

620422655:41 That run seemed to wake the Lakers up a bit, as Ron Artest nailed back-to-back 3′s and Gasol scored twice under the rim to cap a 10-0 Lakers run, putting the purple and gold up 15-10 and forcing a Kings time out.

3:11 Remember how Artest was on fire for the first week in training camp before cooling off in Europe? Fire’s back: 3-for-3 from 3 for Ron Ron, who in unrelated news received the Key to the City of Las Vegas last night thanks to his great work with kids to the tune of encouraging mental health and support. Bryant followed up Artest’s make with his first hit in five attempts to put L.A. up 21-14.

0:00 Barnes fed Caracter instead of attempting a buzzer beater, & time ran out. Team building pass? Either way, 23-20 L.A. after one quarter.

SECOND QUARTER
11:00 Nice open to the second from the bench, featuring a slick driving leaner from Barnes and a pretty pull-up in transition from Brown, off glass. Bryant, seated a few feet away from Brown, was pleased to see one of his moves (pivot after an up-fake, off glass) utilized. Meanwhile, Odom & Gasol were having a big laugh together on the bench, Gasol even tilting head back w/arm around L.O. #chemistry

7:20 We got a nice lil’ taste of Devin Ebanks on the wing, as the rookie filled the right lane nicely to finish a fast break at the rim off Shannon Brown’s dish. On the next possession, Ebanks made a pull up jumper from the elbow to put L.A. up 36-28, a solid period for the second unit continuing.

1:15 The Kings took their first lead since the early first quarter with a Darnell Jackson jumper, then went up 45-42 with two Luther Head free throws as L.A. struggled to score. In related news, Kobe didn’t play in the second quarter.

0:00 Vujacic’s basline jumper put the Lakers back up top momentarily, but Carl Landry’s layup made it 47-46 Kings at the half. It was a solid quarter for Ebanks, who made only two of seven shots while struggling to finish, but gave Sacramento problems with his length and energy.

THIRD QUARTER
8:45 Bryant’s first bucket of the third quarter came not on a jumper, as most of his seven first quarter attempts, but on a put back of Artest’s missed layup to tie the game at 50. Gasol then used Odom’s fifth assist for a two-handed dunk, capping a 6-0 run.

4:34 Bryant is only 4-for-27 in the preseason after missing another J, but found a cutting Barnes in transition for a pretty layup to put the Lakers up 58-52. Kobe and Phil Jackson care not even a little bit what Bryant’s shooting percentage is in the preseason, however, interested only on his progression towards health into the regular season.

620423073:23 It was an impressive two-minute stretch for Barnes, who followed up his layup with a pretty follow-up dunk, then a steal on the defensive end, his intensity providing an obvious spark with L.A. going on a 14-4 run.

0:46.2 The Lakers continued to attack the offensive glass, with Odom’s ninth rebound giving Brown a wide-open three, which he swished to put L.A. up by 10. Brown added a technical (Omri Casspi) foul shot, then hit a pull-up jumper to increase the lead to 13.

0:00 With seven seconds left in the quarter, Jackson inserted Odom for the final possession, and was paid off promptly with L.O.’s pull-up three to beat the buzzer and cap an impressive session. Sacramento really struggled to score with L.A.’s increased defensive pressure in the period, managing just 12 points to 28 from the Lakers, producing a 74-59 lead into the fourth.

FOURTH QUARTER
9:51 Most of the early fourth quarter action happened off the floor, with Jackson earning a technical foul while protesting a carry call on Brown, and Barnes and Landry squaring off after a physical chasing of a loose ball. The Lakers, of course, like this feisty element to Barnes’s personality, which jives quite well particularly with Bryant, Artest and Fisher.

8:50 With the Kings cutting L.A.’s 15-point lead to nine, Bryant and Fisher both had their knees put on ice, signifying that they wouldn’t return. Bryant finished the game 2-for-10 from the field, but backup Brown converted twice more to hit a team-high 17 points.

5:37 Artest’s put-back layup kept L.A.’s cushion at eight after Landry reached 21 points with a layup of his own. Landry, for some reason, always kills the Lakers. Alas, your crunch time lineup: Blake, Vujacic, Ebanks, Caracter and Gasol.

4:00 Gasol’s jumper kept the lead at 92-82 after Ebanks and Caracter hit respective shots, and more importantly, Flava Flav showed up in the audience and on the jumbotron wearing one of his patented huge clocks over a purple Back-to-Back Champs Lakers t-shirt. Awesome.

1:50 Cousins hit an almost absurd leaning three as the shot clock expired, preceding a breakaway layup from Luther Head that drew the Kings suddenly within six.

0:00 An odd final two minutes found the Kings within three points as L.A. make mistake after mistake, but ultimately held on for a narrow 98-95 victory. DeMarcus Cousins air-balled a three-pointer with seconds left as Gasol defended, but Vujacic somehow kicked the ball out of bounds with 1.5 seconds left to give the Kings a last chance to tie. Head ended up traveling, however, and the Lakers improved to 1-2 in the preseason.

Next up is a Saturday – Sunday doubleheader at STAPLES Center. Until then, your postgame numbers:

POSTGAME NUMBERS
4 Field goals made by Kobe Bryant in three preseason games in 28 attempts, a wildly uncharacteristic conversion rate of just 14.3 percent. Of course, neither Kobe nor Phil Jackson care at all about his preseason field goal percentage, with the only goal being getting him physically ready for the regular season.

6 Assists for Lamar Odom to lead the Lakers from a passing standpoint, including a few slick feeds resulting in Pau Gasol dunks. Gasol posted an 18-point, 12-rebound double-double, while Odom added nine boards and seven points.

12 Points scored by the Kings in the third quarter, with L.A. ratcheting up its defense in a big way. The Lakers, on the other hand, scored easily off that defense to the tune of 28 points, taking control of the game with a 15-point lead.

60 Lakers shooting percentage from the foul line (18-of-30), which nearly came back to haunt them late in the fourth quarter as the Kings had two chances to tie the game after Gasol and Derrick Caracter missed a combined 4-of-6 attempts.

63.6 Ron Artest’s shooting percentage in a terrific offensive game, thanks to 7-of-11 shooting and 4-of-5 from three-point range, to lead L.A. with 18 points. The Queensbridge product added four rebounds, three assists and some solid defense of last year’s Rookie of the Year Tyreke Evans.