Lakers 109, Pacers 94: Dec. 15 Diary

Below is a running diary of L.A.’s Wednesday evening road game at Indiana, the fourth 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 Gasol
Pacers: D. Collison, B. Rush, D. Granger, J. McRoberts, R. Hibbert

FIRST QUARTER
8:00 Before the game, Matt Barnes sent out a tweet that basically promised revenge to the Pacers, whom he felt celebrated too much on the Lakers home floor. Well, apparently the team’s starters felt the same way, because they sprinted out to a 15-4 lead, with Ron Artest and Pau Gasol in particular doing whatever they wanted at both ends. Artest was 3-for-3 with two steals and an offensive rebound that led to Gasol’s fourth field goal, a driving power dunk on the baseline.

4:00 Not much changed as the Lakers continued to play terrific basketball, getting whatever they wanted on offense to score 29 points, while holding the Pacers to 10 by keeping them out of the paint.

0:00 Indy finally got something going by replacing its starters, a T.J. Ford, James Posey and Mike Dunleavy group leading them on a 12-5 run that helped trim L.A.’s lead a bit to 36-22 after the first quarter. Nonetheless, it was a very impressive stanza for L.A., which closed the quarter shooting 73.7 percent.

SECOND QUARTER
10:00 Steve Blake the scorer emerged early in the second period, hitting a three and two jumpers to put L.A. up 40-26. Blake’s an able scorer, but generally prefers to get teammates involved. In related news, guys love playing with Blake.

4:18 Gasol didn’t lose any of his early brilliance, making his ninth shot in 10 attempts to reach a game-high 20 points, plus five rebounds and a block on the previous possession. The Spaniard, as is his custom on back-to-backs, was receiving treatment between two 2:00 and 3:30 a.m. last night to get his body ready for tonight. Guess that paid off…

0:24.0 Odom wasn’t bad either, sticking a jumper to reach 12 points in the half, plus seven boards, two assists and a block. While Andrew Bynum didn’t take a shot in six minutes and grabbed only one board, his mere presence on the floor and in the rotation has clearly done early wonders for his frontcourt ‘mates.

THIRD QUARTER
9:30 Last night, Bryant scored 12 straight points at the end of the third quarter. Tonight, he put up 10 straight points in the first four minutes and change of the period, including a swished triple, pull-up J, three free throws after getting Granger to bite on a swing through move, and then another jumper near the free throw line.

3:45 Bryant’s next bucket came courtesy of a Bynum offensive rebound in heavy traffic. Moments later, Bynum grabbed another, this time offering an even better pass to Artest for a wing triple that put L.A. up 80-55. The 23-year-old center was at that point up to five boards, looking his most active in two games, while Bryant’s scoring burst got him up to 23 points (17 in the third) before he sat down.

0:01.0 Gasol was so dominant in the game, reaching 27 points by hitting two free throws on top of his 10-of-14 field goals, that some Pacers fans could think of nothing else but to chant “USA” while he was at the line. Indy managed to trim a few points off L.A.’s lead, but it was still considerable at 87-69 heading into the fourth.

FOURTH QUARTER
9:14 Brandon Rush was about all Indiana had going for its squad, as he reached 16 points with a tough runner over Bynum. Rush had also rimmed out on a few three-point attempts, but perhaps more pertinently, Indy still trailed by 21 after Barnes dropped a corner triple. By the way, L.A.’s bench unit of Blake, Brown, Barnes, Odom and Bynum is ridiculous for an NBA team. Tons of talent, tons of length.

6:00 The next step in Bynum’s slow progression was playing 12 straight minutes, with six minute stretches surrounding the end of the third quarter. Phil Jackson said before the game that his game and basketball shape would prevent him from looking good offensively, and sure enough, he managed to make only 1-of-4 field goals. Nonetheless, he moved pretty well up and down the court and laterally, and checked out with the Lakers up 20.

3:45 Jackson often likes to keep positive momentum going when his team’s playing well, and in this case, inserted his starters back into the contest despite the big lead. Kobe didn’t take long to put on yet another offensive show, wowing the crowd with back-to-back deeeeep triples, then adding a tough turnaround jumper to get quickly to 31 points, surpassing Gasol’s 27. The Indy crowd actually let out a big cry of disappointment when Bryant missed his third three after sinking the first two, more interested in watching the ridiculous offensive display than the 108-91 score.

The final, moments later, was 109-94, the second straight dominant performance from the Lakers and third straight road win.

POSTGAME NUMBERS
59 Combined points for Kobe Bryant (31) and Pau Gasol (28), who were each terrific throughout. Gasol opened the game making 8-of-9 shots, and Bryant scored 10 straight points in the third and eight straight in the fourth while Pacers fans openly screamed their approval.

25 Assists for the Lakers, who moved the ball very well for the second straight game. Ten players scored in the contest, all but one registering an assist.

17 Minutes played by Andrew Bynum, who grabbed five rebounds with three points and two assists. It was another positive step for the big center, who has clearly offered a big physical and mental boost for Gasol and Lamar Odom, who scored 13 points with 17 rebounds.

15 Defensive rebounds grabbed by Odom, who added two on offense and was terrific throughout. He also scored 13 points, tossed three assists with a block.

13 Points for Indiana’s best player, Danny Granger, limited to 5-of-13 shooting by a fired up Ron Artest, who was playing against his former team.