Lakers 109, Knicks 87: Jan. 9 Running Diary

Below is a running diary of L.A.’s Sunday night home contest against the New York Knicks as the Lakers looked for their sixth win in seven games since Andrew Bynum returned to the starting line up, 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
Knicks: R. Felton, S. Williams, W. Chandler, L. Fields, A. Stoudemire

FIRST QUARTER
6:13 Phil Jackson wasn’t too happy to see his team turn the ball over six times in the first four minutes, which resulted in seven Knicks points, and a 10-4 lead for the visitors. Seemingly scores of New Yorkers were enjoying the early action, showcasing how many live in Los Angeles, while there was also a large celeb contingent at the contest, including (per Jeanie Buss’s Twitter handle): Jack Nicholson, Adam Sandler (sitting next to one another), Denzel Washington, Tom Arnold, Michael Rosenbaum, Dax Shepard, Spike Lee, Chris Pine, Glee’s Matthew Morrison, Lindsey Lohan in Knicks cap, NFL Dick Butkus.

2:47 Jackson felt a lot better into the next time out, his Lakers finding Andrew Bynum on the low block instead of turning the ball over. The 7-footer quickly had eight points to go with four boards, while Lamar Odom promptly scored five points after checking in off the bench, leading a 9-1 run that put L.A. in front 21-17.

0:00 In a somewhat odd quarter, the Lakers scored 15 of their 25 points in a three-plus minute stretch in the middle of the period, adding only four free throws after Odom’s three got ‘em to 21. Nonetheless, they recovered from the slow start to lead 25-21 at the break. Once L.A. stopped turning the ball over, the Knicks settled for jumper after jumper, converting at only a 34.8 percent rate.

SECOND QUARTER
8:30 Struggling a bit of late, Shannon Brown began to break out in a big way early in the second, hitting back-to-back threes from the same corner in front of L.A.’s bench, then adding a massive one-handed dunk when the Knicks inexplicably left the paint wide open, putting the Lakers up 34-30.

2:51 Despite not getting many looks, Gasol was making things happen for himself, attacking the offensive boards for his eighth total rebound and putting the ball back home, plus a foul, to put L.A. up 41-40. Gasol also had two blocks at that point, and followed up with an open jumper from the top of the key to reach nine points.

0:40.4 Bryant hit his first three-pointer of the game to close the scoring for the half, enough to give L.A. a 52-47 lead. With tempo being the obvious key to this game, L.A. did a decent job after the opening stretch of asserting themselves down low, outscoring New York 30-16 in the paint, and grabbing 11 offensive rebounds to produce a 17-4 edge in second chance points.

THIRD QUARTER
7:39 Bryant opened the third with back-to-back threes to put the Lakers up nine points, the high for either team, reaching 15 points with his seven boards and three assists in the process. L.A. then went repeatedly to Bynum, with the smaller Stoudemire defending, and though Stoudemire picked up two blocks (though one was a clear hack), Bynum then (a) dropped in a layup and (b) earned two free throws. Gasol would then clean up Bynum’s near miss by earning a foul after another offensive board, his two free throws making it a 64-52 lead.

4:03 After more paint-pounding got Gasol up to 15 points with 13 rebounds, Bryant added two free throws to make it a 72-56 LAL lead. The Lakers were just hammering New York inside on offense, while keeping the visitors out of transition at the other end, the best complete stretch from the starters in a lil’ while.

0:01.0 An odd end to the quarter, to say the least, ended with a buzzer-beating three-pointer from Shannon Brown that snapped a 5-0 Knicks run that resulted from a flagrant foul on Artest.

FOURTH QUARTER
11:26 More oddity: Bynum, after cleanly blocking Stoudemire, was incensed that he was called for the foul that he immediately got a technical for arguing. He then argued more, and got a quick second technical, ejected for the game with his 18 points, seven boards and two assists in 25 minutes. The Knicks got three points on the possession to cut a once 16-point lead to eight in a game that L.A. had controlled entirely only moments earlier.

5:37 With two free throws from Bryant and two more from Fisher, the Laker re-opened the safe lead they’d built in the third quarter prior to all the extra curricular activity, taking a 95-81 lead. Bryant was up to a 25-point, 10-rebound double-double, while Gasol (20 points, 14 boards) and Odom (12 points, 15 boards) were right there with him.

1:51 And that would do it. Bryant’s 10-foot jumper gave him a game-high 27, and put the Lakers up 103-85 as Phil Jackson cleared his bench. A really solid all-around effort from the Lakers thus resulted in the team’s fourth straight win, and sixth in seven games since Bynum returned to the starting line up.