Below is a running diary of L.A.’s Tuesday evening roadie at Washington, the third 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:
Lakers: Fisher, Bryant, Artest, Odom and P. Gasol
Wizards: G. Arenas*, K. Hinrich, A. Thornton, Yi Jianlain and J. McGee
*Arenas was starting for the injured John Wall, and Yi for Andray Blatche, both players out with knee soreness.
6:00 And, finally, Andrew Bynum entered the basketball floor for the Lakers. He’d missed the first 25 games of the season recovering and rehabbing from offseason knee surgery, and finally felt strong enough to give live game action a try. Within two minutes, he’d already drawn two fouls simply because he’s huge, making his first two but missing the next pair in a 13-all game. In somewhat odd news, both Lamar Odom and Pau Gasol picked up two personal fouls in the early goings, perhaps emboldened by the return of their bigger teammate.
0:29.0 Two more foul shots from Bynum came as he drew his third foul in the paint, and a moment after he’d blocked his second shot.
9:50 It didn’t take long to see what a difference Bynum makes just for the rotation alone. Because Gasol and Odom had some rare-of-late rest in the first, they started the second quarter alongside the Killer B’s, and naturally the Wizards couldn’t begin to match that kind of talent. A 10-0 run ensued, with Gasol and Odom combining for seven points.
6:49 It was almost an unfair matchup, with All-Star Gasol and potential All-Star Odom combining for 16 points, four assists and four rebounds in the first five minutes of the second, during which the Lakers outscored a youthful Wiz frontline of McGee, Trevor Booker and Al Thornton 21-6.
0:01.0 Gasol continued a solid around half by making all three of his second quarter attempts, including the final field goal of the half, to join Odom with 12 points and put the Lakers up 57-46. L.A. barely missed in the 2nd, hitting 12-of-17 shots (70 percent) on 10 assists. Shannon Brown’s 12 points, all in the quarter, led the way, while Bynum got three more minutes of PT to reach seven points with a board and two blocks in the half. He was moving quite well, if at times seeming a bit tentative in rebounding crowds, as could be expected.
7:00 Kobe flashed back to the 1997 dunk contest with a flying two-handed oop off Fisher’s alley, giving the Lakers a 68-56 lead with the game well under L.A.’s control. Gasol, meanwhile, was threatening triple-double range by dishing his sixth assist, going along with 12 points and eight boards.
4:34 For the first time in December, Ron Artest reached double figures on the scoreboard after converting a layup off yet another Gasol assist. Moments earlier, Bryant had missed all three free throws (possible related: he got cracked on the hand/finger earlier in the game), but atoned by sinking a corner triple to cap an 8-0 run and put the Lakers up 80-64.
2:01 Not that the Wizards are able to pose much opposition particularly with Andray Blatche and John Wall — perhaps their two best players — out, but the Lakers were looking a lot like the Lakers. Bryant in particular went off at the end of the third, entering Black Mamba mode to score 12 straight points, hitting 3-of-3 three-pointers plus 3-of-3 free throws after drawing Nick Young’s foul from three. Down on the low block, Gasol and Odom continued to appear physically and mentally recharged with Bynum’s return, combining to make 11-of-14 field goals with 18 rebounds and nine assists. The result of all that was a 92-70 score heading into the fourth.
8:48 Despite Gasol and Odom starting the fourth, the Lakers failed to score while conceding eight straight Wizards points, the lead cut to 14. At that point, Odom had played 32 minutes, Gasol 28, Bryant 24 and Bynum 13. If Phil Jackson had his way, they’d all get to sit in the fourth since L.A. has to play a back-to-back at Indiana tomorrow evening, but they couldn’t sit without a safe lead.
6:11 That came moments later, however, as Odom streaked to the hoop on a 3-on-1 fastbreak, opting to keep the ball while throwing down a left-handed dunk on Kevin Seraphin, plus the foul. Since Brown had hit a jumper on the previous possession, the lead grew back to 19, and Bynum sent Gasol back to the bench to rest.
0:00 It was all over from there, the final score = 103-89. Let’s get to your postgame numbers:
84.6 Combined shooting percentage for Lamar Odom (5-of-5) and Pau Gasol (6-of-8) in the first three quarters, as the two bigs showed fresh legs and minds with the return of Andrew Bynum.
40 Free throws attempted by the Lakers. Despite missing 11 of those attempts, L.A. still made 17 more FT’s than the Wizards (12-of-16).
23 L.A.’s biggest lead in a contest that wasn’t close throughout, the road team holding a double-digit lead almost throughout. The Wiz, playing without their two best players in injured John Wall and Andray Blatche, led by at most two early in the first quarter.
17 Minutes played by Bynum in his first contest after 25 missed games. He scored seven
points, five coming at the free throw line, while making only 1-of-5 field goal attempts, plus four rebounds and two blocks. His return was certainly a successful one for the Lakers.
12 Points scored in a two-minute period between the 3:56 and 2:01 marks of the third quarter, thanks to 3-of-3 shooting from three and 3-of-3 free throws drawn on a three-point attempt. He finished the game with 24 points in just 24 minutes, getting ample rest for the back-to-back at Indiana on Wednesday.