Below is a running diary of L.A.’s Friday evening home contest against the Sacramento Kings, 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
Kings: B. Udrih, T. Evans, O. Casspi, J. Thompson, D. Cousins
4:30 For some reason, lottery pick DeMarcus Cousins, a 6-11 center, was launching long two-point jumpers throughout the opening minutes of the quarter. The thing was, he made ‘em all, reaching a team-high 12 points before Kings coach Paul Westphal yanked him to try and better match up with newly-entered Lamar Odom in a 19-all game. Moments later, we saw some history…
3:29 With a one-handed dunk, Bryant surpassed Hakeem Olajuwon for 8th place on the NBA’s all-time leading scoring list. Quite a crazy accomplishment, and one we’ll detail in full with an extended conversation with “The Dream” to be published tomorrow afternoon. He needed 13 points in the game to do so, and it only took him nine minutes.
0:02.0 Just for added emphasis, Bryant continued to tear up the net, adding a two-handed hammer dunk to reach 21 points in the period, making 8-of-11 field goals to bring his January shooting percentage up to 50.8 percent.
6:00 Two Odom free throws put the Lakers up 42-41, but getting stops at the other end hadn’t worked out too well for the Lakers, who watched the Kings shoot 61.8 percent, led by a 9-for-11 performance from Cousins, back in but now scoring in the post as well. Back in came Bryant, Artest, Fisher and Bynum to try and gain control of the game.
2:27 Though Bynum managed a second aggressive dunk through Sacramento’s tall bodies, the Kings pushed their lead to four points as Udrih converted back-to-back layups, leading into a time out.
0:00 The Lakers looked to have cut what was a seven-point lead to just two when Fisher hit a runner at the buzzer, but the red light had already come on, putting the Kings into the locker room with a 59-55 edge. Bryant got up to 26 points to lead all scorers, though no other Laker had more than Bynum’s six points. Cousins, meanwhile, had 22 for the Kings.
9:20 The Lakers often try to erase sub par first halfs early in the third quarter by ramping up their defense. But in this case, it was … well … the exact opposite. The Kings came out flying around, capping a 10-2 run with Cousins’s fast break layup to force a Phil Jackson time out with his squad down 71-57.
5:59 Things got worse before they got better for the Lakers, who suddenly found themselves trailing by 18 points after making just two of nine shots to open the quarter and conceding 18 Kings points in the meantime.
0:45.5 The Lakers looked to have cut the lead to 10 when Odom converted an open layup, but he was whistled for three seconds prior to the hoop. Instead, Pooh Jeter would pull up for a quarter-ending jumper that put the Kings up 85-71. L.A. had finally picked up its defense, but would it come too late?
9:00 L.A.’s improved D did in fact start to pay dividends at the onset of the fourth, as the Kings had trouble getting good looks and the Lakers cut the once 18-point lead to eight on Bynum’s alley-oop drop in from Bryant. NBA teams like to be within 10 points with six minutes left to have a decent chance to come back, so the home team was in OK shape despite the horrid start to the third.
5:34 The lead was back to 10, however, with six minutes on the clock, though Bryant’s two free throws made it 93-85 moments later. Still looking for stops upon stops, it wasn’t going to be easy considering how well the Kings were shooting from everywhere.
3:14 Two terrific plays from the Lakers on offense (following the requisite stops on defense) cut the lead to just four. First was a slashing hammer dunk from Bryant, who looked angry while throwing it down, and then a beautiful pass from Odom to a trailing Gasol for a two-handed dunk that made the once 20-point deficit a 93-89 margin.
0:03.6 The momentum stopped right about there, as the Lakers couldn’t get a late three to go down, with Bryant in particular rimming out multiple times to fall to only 2-of-11 from the field in the fourth. The Kings missed several free throws down the stretch, but it didn’t matter, as 1-of-2 from Carl Landry with three seconds left was enough to create a 100-95 final score.
Up next, of course, is Sunday’s matchup with Boston. Until then, your numbers are coming up in the next post.