Lakers 99, Nets 92: Dec. 12 Running Diary

Below is a running diary of L.A.’s Sunday afternoon road game at New Jersey, the second of a six-game trek through the Midwest and East Coast, with some comments drawn from our @LakersReporter Twitter account, and a few more details in case you missed any of the action:

Starters
Lakers: Fisher, Bryant, Artest, Odom and P. Gasol
Nets: D. Harris, A. Morrow, Q. Ross*, K. Humphries and B. Lopez
*Ross was starting his first game of the season as Travis Outlaw was benched prior to the previous game, while rookie Damion James suffered an injury in his first start.

FIRST QUARTER
4:51 A few minutes after the Lakers fell behind 7-0 while missing their first six field goal attempts signified the fact that it was only 10 a.m. in California, Kobe Bryant and Lamar Odom hit back-to-back threes to put the Lakers up 17-14.

2:58 Pau Gasol has tired legs. Have you heard? It’s a topic that’s been discussed repeatedly of late, but it keeps coming up because his energy hasn’t been the same with such a heavy load to carry down low. Sure enough, his jumper looking flat to start this game, all four of his shots missing until Derrick Caracter subbed him out of the game. The Lakers weren’t too worse for the wear, however, thanks to 10 points from Odom on 4-of-5 shooting.

L.A. actually finished the quarter plus five on the scoreboard since Caracter entered, taking a 30-24 lead into the second quarter in a game that had yet to really start moving.

SECOND QUARTER
7:46 In his first career game against the Lakers, Jordan Farmar played a solid, controlled seven minutes to hit his only shot, a three, while grabbing two rebounds without a turnover. L.A.’s lead was nine at that point, thanks in part to a nice boost from the bench to begin the second.

2:35 Anthony Morrow, literally the second best three-point shooter in NBA history if going by percentages (Steve Kerr is first), missed an open look in transition that would have capped a 9-0 run to tie the game. Instead, the Lakers sealed the rebound and called time out, perhaps to discuss why they hadn’t scored in three minutes.

0:00 Then came a quick L.A. burst, featuring a newly-entered Devin Ebanks jumper and Gasol’s dunk from Bryant in transition that put the Lakers up 52-42 at the break. Those offensive opportunities had come because crafty vets Fisher and Bryant had combined for three strips of the ball on defense, making up for Gasol’s 3-for-11 and Bryant’s 1-for-6 from the field.

THIRD QUARTER
5:26 A 9-0 Nets run, capped by Morrow’s second three, came amidst more offensive struggles for Gasol, who missed consecutive shots to drop to 3-for-13 from the field. He did manage to hit his next jumper, and Bryant added two of his own to put the lead back at five at 62-57.

3:51 Tired as Gasol may have been, he was playing effective defense on Jersey’s best player, Brook Lopez, holding him to 14 points on 14 shot attempts while blocking three of the former Stanford star’s shots. On the other end, Bryant led a mini-burst from L.A., finding a cutting Odom for a wide-open layup and then hitting a three-pointer to re-open a 10-point lead.

0:00 For the second time in the quarter, the Lakers conceded a Nets run that trimmed their double-digit lead this time to two points, the Lakers failing to score in the final 3:09 of the quarter (since Bryant’s three-pointer).

FOURTH QUARTER
8:15 With Odom on the bench with four fouls and Gasol getting a rare breather, Bryant scored six of L.A.’s eight points to start the fourth, maintaining a one-point lead four minutes into the final stanza. Farmar, meanwhile, was effective for the Nets, scoring five of his eight points including a darting and-1 layup through traffic.

3:40 Moments after Bryant nailed an extremely tough three-pointer off the dribble, Odom got 1-of-2 free throws to drop after taking a hard foul from Lopez while gliding in for a layup, giving the Lakers an 86-85 lead they’d try to hold for the final three minutes.

2:00 The Lakers are the NBA’s second best free throw shooting team on the season, but stars Bryant, Odom and Gasol all missed the front end of attempts to keep three points off the board in a tight game they led by three after Gasol’s lay-in. It was just his sixth make in 19 attempts.

0:42.0 But those same stars more than atoned for the missed free throws, as Bryant twice drew extra attention in the paint after beating Harris off the dribble, and first found Gasol for an open layup, then Odom for an open dunk. After their third straight stop, Odom then hit his second triple of the game thanks to an extra pass from Fisher, a dagger in New Jersey’s chest as it opened an eight-point lead.

POSTGAME NUMBERS
2 Clutch assists from Kobe Bryant, who drove into the paint and attracted multiple defenders on back-to-back possessions late in the fourth quarter before finding Pau Gasol for a layup and Lamar Odom for a dunk that buried the Nets. Bryant finished with six dimes in the contest to lead the Lakers.

3 Late free throws missed by Bryant, Gasol and Odom (one each) that made those two buckets from Bryant more than necessary. Odom also added the game’s dagger from three-point distance, his second and L.A.’s seventh of the game.

9 Rebounds collected by guards Shannon Brown (four) and Steve Blake (five) off the bench despite limited playing time. The Nets finished the game +3 on the glass at 45-42.

16 Shots missed by Gasol in a 6-for-19 day from the field. While that rarity showed his tired legs, Gasol still managed 15 points and 11 rebounds with five blocks.

32 Points scored by Bryant to lead all scorers on 9-of-19 shooting. He scored 14 of those 32 in the fourth quarter, making 3-of-6 shots and hitting 7-of-8 free throws. He added four steals and four boards to his aforementioned six dimes.