Below is a running diary of L.A.’s Tuesday evening home game against Washington, the Lakers playing the first of a back-to-back with the Clippers coming on Wednesday, 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: J. Wall, G. Arenas*, A. Thornton, Y. Jianlian, J. McGee
The Wiz usually start Kirk Hinrich at the two guard, but with leading scorer Andray Blatche a late scratch due to a bruised hip, Flip Saunders needed more scoring in his line up, giving North Hollywood native Arenas the nod.
4:52 On a pretty day in Los Angeles, the Lakers beautifully moved the ball around, with each starter not named Pau Gasol making at least two field goals. Among the only non-assisted hoops was a put-back layup by Ron Artest, made more fun since he didn’t jump to either grab the ball or throw it back in off the glass.
3:01 The pretty passing didn’t go anywhere two minutes later, with Odom receiving yet another pretty look from Gasol and throwing down a one-handed dunk to put the Lakers up 10 points early. L.A. would finish the quarter with a 36-23 edge, thanks in no small part due to dominance of the glass (17-4), particularly on the offensive end. Gasol had three of the team’s seven O boards, while Odom’s 13 points on 5-of-6 shooting led the offense. Bryant added eight points of his own, while Gilbert Arenas notched eight for the visitors.
Side note: Speaking of Arenas … back on Dec. 17, 2006, North Hollywood native Arenas dropped 60 points in a 147-141 Wizards OT victory, with Bryant adding 45 in a losing effort.
10:15 When L.A.’s bench is dropping threes, the Lakers can be unreasonably good, so when Steve Blake hit his second three of the second quarter in two minutes, a few Wiz players may have been on the demoralized side of things. But that didn’t stop USC product Nick Young from shooting – what can, anyways, for a guy that had attempted 171 shots on the season while totaling only eight assists – and making a 15-footer that caused a Phil Jackson time out despite L.A.’s 12-point lead.
8:03 As Bryant and Odom sat and watched, the Wizards leaked out in transition behind lightning-fast rookie point guard John Wall, cutting the lead down to seven after consecutive fast break hoops. In related news, Bryant then approached the scorer’s table to check back in. Meanwhile, Gasol was on triple-double watch despite not playing to his usual high standard, reaching six points (3-of-10 shooting) with seven assists and eight rebounds.
3:10 The Wiz kept their roll going for a moment, cutting the lead to as few as four, before L.A. got annoyed any pushed it right back to double-digits at 61-47 after a Fisher and-1. That gave Fish eight points, not to mention four dimes and a season-high five rebounds. That Fisher already had a season-high on the glass reflected the rebound destruction for L.A., who at that point led Washington 24-10, boasting 12 offensive boards to allow for nine more field goal attempts than Wall and Co.
Your one-line summary: Thanks to 57 percent shooting & dominance of the glass (26-11), the Lakers took a 69-56 lead into the half.
6:10 Gasol continued to pile up statistics as the Lakers continued to build their lead, the Spaniard getting to 14 points, 11 boards and eight assists (two dimes short of his second triple-double of the season) in an 82-65 ball game. So much for that sore hamstring…
3:15 … That said, Phil Jackson was certainly going to use the opportunity to rest Gasol and Bryant as much as he could, taking Bryant out with L.A. up 16, and Gasol moments later with the lead down to 11. But with five straight points for the Wiz, including another Nick Young three (his fourth, for 24 total points off the bench) cut that margin down further to nine. Maybe we’d have to see Gasol, two assists away, with a chance for that triple-double after all?
0:00 Turn that “maybe” into a “very likely,” since the Wiz closed the third on a 14-1 run to cut L.A.’s lead to just three at 87-84 heading into the final quarter.
8:15 Remember how the Lakers got annoyed that Washington cut their double-digit lead down to four in the first half and promptly pushed it back to 14? This time, the three-point lead quickly grew back to 10 behind Brown’s bank shot and Gasol’s finger roll.
3:25 Despite continued displays of footwork brilliance from Bryant, showcasing much of his expansive arsenal of moves, the Wizards continued to hang around, down seven after a monster transition dunk from rookie Trevor Booker, who had 14 points on 7-of-8 shooting. One never got an idea that L.A. wasn’t in control, but Washington was certainly keeping the fans on their toes.
0:00 It was Gasol making several key plays in the final seconds, including a block, rebound, free throw make and loose ball tie up that resulted in his winning a jump ball, as the Lakers emerged with a 115-108 win over a young, feisty bunch of Wizards. We’ll see you back on Lakers.com for Wednesday’s “road” game against the Clippers.