Lakers 102, Sixers 98: New Years Eve Diary

Below is a running diary of L.A.’s New Years Eve home contest against Philadelphia as the Lakers looked to back up a solid win against New Orleans, 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, Gasol and Bynum
Sixers: J. Holiday, J. Meeks, A. Nocioni, E. Brand, S. Hawes

FIRST QUARTER
5:28 With Ron Artest’s wing deuce, the Lakers capped off a 10-0 run that allowed an 18-8 early edge in the team’s final game in 2010. The Lakers were simply exploiting their size advantages at nearly every positions, particularly at two guard as Bryant had already offered nine points in a big mismatch with the 6-4 Jodie Meeks.

4:40 It’s an intelligent fan base here in Los Angeles, which we saw as STAPLES offered Lamar Odom an extended ovation when he checked in off the bench for the first time at home this season. The fans understood how valuable Odom’s been this season as perhaps L.A.’s most consistent player, and appreciated his willingness to return to the bench.

0:00 The Lakers entirely controlled the first period, emerging with a 29-19 lead while shooting 52 percent and holding Philly to 38 percent from the field. Odom and Gasol combined for nine of L.A.’s 15 rebounds, one more than the Sixers managed as a team (eight), and helped the home team outscore Doug Collins’ squad 10-4 in the paint.

SECOND QUARTER
7:08 Most NBA players could have a New Year’s resolution is to become as good at anything basketball wise as Gasol is at any number of skills, including passing, as he picked Shannon Brown out for a wide-open layup after drawing defensive attention his way. Brown’s hoop preceded a little flip shot from Barnes that made it 39-29 L.A., restoring a double-digit lead that Philly had cut to four with an early

1:49 Artest’s first triple of the ballgame pushed his early total up to seven points with three rebound and three dimes in a solid individual half, while Odom hit double-digits in scoring in addition to his four boards and two assists. Only Derek Fisher (0-for-5 FG’s) and Bynum (1-for-4) had yet to get it going.

0:00.3 Despite a late mishap in which Odom threw the ball 60 feet down the floor to try and pick Bynum out for a final shot and misfired long, L.A. held onto an eight-point lead at the break, thanks to that size edge that produced a 25-17 advantage on the glass and a 24-16 difference in paint points.

THIRD QUARTER
7:00 Perhaps happier than anyone to have Bynum back protecting his back, Gasol reached 18 points with typical efficiency, making his eighth shot in 11 attempts to complement his eight rebounds, as the Lakers continued to lead by double digits.

2:38 Bryant continued to show the pair of fresh legs that produced perhaps his biggest dunk of the season back in the first half (a two-handed hammer jam through traffic) by slipping by both Andres Nocioni and Spencer Hawes for a lay-in off glass, bringing his game-high total to 21 points. Meanwhile, Bynum had grabbed six boards before ceding his spot to Odom, bringing his total to a season-high 11.

0:00 Matt Barnes made an unfortunate play to close the third, pushing Nocioni in the back while trying to grab an offensive board with one second left, which put the Argentinean forward at the free throw line all the way down the court. His two makes cut an 11-point lead to nine, 82-73, at the break.

FOURTH QUARTER
8:40 The Sixers continued to fight, rolling off a 12-6 run to open the fourth quarter, cutting further into L.A.’s once 14-point lead with a 88-85 margin. The Lakers had been scoring so easily with their length inside while Bryant and Gasol were in the game, but the second unit wasn’t living up to standard. Blake, Barnes and Brown had combined for only 11 points on 5-of-12 FG’s.

4:25 Make that a two-point margin. Lou Williams continued his hot streak off Philly’s bench, scoring nine of his 18 to make it a 94-92 contest in crunch time. Back came Gasol, replacing Bynum and his 15 rebounds, to try and help L.A. bury Philly.

2:00 Before the Spaniard had a chance, Odom continued his solid game by scoring back-to-back hoops to keep the Lakers up three despite a triple from Jrue Holiday, the UCLA product who’d produced 19 points and 11 assists. The 76ers were determined to make the Lakers earn a game they thought was well in hand.

0:02.3 A frantic final minute almost ended the wrong way for the Lakers, as both Williams and Holiday rimmed out potential lead-taking three-pointers. Nonetheless, Thaddeus Young knocked the second miss out of bounds trying to grab an offensive board, giving the Lakers the ball back with 2.3 seconds left. Bryant would draw a foul and sink both foul shots to ice the contest, giving L.A. their final victory of a fantastic all-around 2010 of course highlighted by an NBA title.