Below is a running diary of L.A.’s Tuesday night home contest against the Cleveland Cavaliers as the Lakers looked for their seventh win in eight 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:
Lakers: Fisher, Bryant, Artest, Gasol and Bynum
Cavaliers: M. Williams, M. Harris, A. Jamison, JJ Hickson, R. Hollins
8:26 Phil Jackson’s a fan of opposing teams switching line ups around to try and match up with his squad, and we saw why early in this one when the Lakers opened an 11-2 lead on the Cavs, who pushed Jamison to the three and Hickson to the four to start 7-footer Ryan Hollins at center. L.A. took advantage of Cleveland having to double Gasol and Bynum inside by hitting three open threes, including two from Fisher and one from Artest.
4:56 The Lakers continued to press on the gas pedal, Bynum and Gasol exchanging pretty passes out of the triangle to get each other open layups that made it a 19-6 early lead. The Cavs, obviously struggling immensely to win only once in their last 21 games, opened the season around .500 but seemed to lose their mojo after LeBron and the Heat dismantled them in Cleveland.
0:00 Nothing much changed prior to the close of the quarter, the Lakers leading 27-12 while holding Cleveland to 27.3 percent from the field and forcing six turnovers. Fisher’s eight points led the way, while Bynum had six and Gasol five boards with three dimes.
8:44 The Cavs actually managed to outscore the Lakers in the first three minutes of the second, 7-5, at least before Gasol’s baseline hook made it 34-18 for the home team. Cleveland, not the league’s most talented team in the first place, has been among the league’s most injured teams to boot, and were playing without Anderson Varejao, Anthony Parker, Daniel Gibson, Leon Powe and Joey Graham on this evening, leaving them with a few players even Phil Jackson said he hadn’t heard of (Manny Harris an Samardo Samuels and Alonzo Gee) all seeing big minutes.
0:00 That’s right, only two comments from a second quarter in which the Lakers outscored Cleveland 30-13, this after the 27-12 first quarter. That had the Cavs scoring only 25 points for the entire half, creating L.A.’s 32-point lead. Gasol had a 13-point, 10-rebounds double-double, while Bryant needed attempt only one shot before trying to beat the halftime buzzer.
10:18 This play summed up the entire game: after Bryant’s missed layup in traffic, Gasol stepped into Cleveland’s outlet pass to create a 3-on-0 break with Bryant and Bynum. Pau passed to Bryant, who threw an alley-oop off glass to a trailing Bynum that gave L.A. a 61-25 lead.
5:23 The Lakers did anything but take their foot off the gas pedal, storming further ahead behind a series of blocks from Bynum (five) and Gasol (one). Meanwhile, Bryant went on a scoring run, reaching 13 points after taking just one shot in the first quarter, L.A. pushing its lead to 77-31.
0:00 After holding the Cavs to season lows for an opponent in the first and second quarters, Cleveland totaled only 16 more in the third, L.A. notching 35 to open a massive 92-41 edge. As if intent upon driving the stake further in, Shannon Brown nailed a halfcourt buzzer-beater that he took as a jumper to close the quarter.
12:00 While Bryant, Fisher and Artest were on the bench, we weren’t surprised to see Gasol and Odom still on the floor to open the fourth, only because Phil Jackson likes to keep positive momentum building throughout a season. Furthermore, both had played limited minutes already, and would finish the game with 31 (Gasol) and 25 (Odom) respectively. Bryant and Fisher had played 24 minutes a piece, and Artest 26, all six players finishing in double figures in scoring while not a single Cavs player had reached at least 10 points.
0:29.3 The franchise record for fewest points ever given up by the Lakers was 66, which came against the Charlotte Hornets (a year before they moved to New Orleans) in 2002. Scratch that, as we have a new record: two free throws got the Cavs to just 57 points, with quarters of 12, 13, 16 and 16 points allowed by L.A.
Let’s get right to the postgame numbers:
57 New franchise record-low points allowed by the Lakers, eight fewer than their previous low of 66, which came on 3/12/02 against the Charlotte Hornets.
14 Rebounds in 31 minutes from Pau Gasol to lead all players. The Spaniard added 13 points and three assists.
7 Lakers in double figures, including all five starters plus Lamar Odom and Shannon Brown, led by 15 points apiece from Ron Artest and Andrew Bynum.
5 Blocks for Andrew Bynum, matching his season high. He added those 15 points on 7-of-9 field goals, and grabbed six boards in his 28 minutes.
2(nd) Largest margin of victory, ever, for the Lakers. Their final margin (55 points) was two fewer than the biggest of the game (57).