Monthly Archive for February, 2011

Bryant 7th Most Prolific Scorer in History

John Havlicek. Dominique Wilkins. Oscar Robertson. Hakeem Olajuwon. Elvin Hayes.

And Kobe Bryant.

That’s the list of the NBA’s 12th and counting down greatest scorers in history, with Bryant shooting his way up to seventh with an eight-foot running bank shot with 5:56 to go in L.A.’s Sunday victory over Oklahoma City, allowing him to surpass the 27,313 points scored by Hayes.

If Bryant continues to score at his current pace of 25.1 points per game, he’ll next surpass Moses Malone (27,409) in a week or two. After that comes Shaquille O’Neal, still playing in Boston with his 28,590 points.

Remarkably, five of the NBA’s top seven scorers — (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (1st), Karl Malone (2nd), Wilt Chamberlain (4th), O’Neal (5th) and Bryant (7th)) — have worn Lakers jerseys.

Further note from L.A.’s Game Notes:

Bryant has been steadily moving up the list over the past few years. Earlier this season, with 23 points at Chicago (12/10/10), he passed John Havlicek (26,395) for 11th. Last season, he passed Alex English (25,613), Reggie Miller (25,279), Jerry West (25,192), Patrick Ewing (24,815) and Allen Iverson (24,368). In passing West with a slam dunk at the 4:14 mark of the third quarter February 1, 2010 at Memphis, finishing the game with 44 points (West’s retired number), Bryant became the leading scorer in Lakers franchise history. In 2008-09, Bryant passed Gary Payton (21,813) and Hall-of-Famers Charles Barkley (23,757), Robert Parish (23,334), Adrian Dantley (23,177), Elgin Baylor (23,149), Clyde Drexler (22,195) and Larry Bird (21,791).

Lakers 90, Thunder 87: Feb. 27 Running Diary

Below is a running diary of L.A.’s Sunday evening road contest against the Thunder, the Lakers looking for their fourth straight win out of the All-Star break, 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
Thunder: R. Westbrook, T. Sefolosha, K. Durant, S. Ibaka, N. Collison

8:40 Think the Thunder were excited for L.A.’s only trip to Oklahoma City this regular season, and first since Pau Gasol’s tip in at the buzzer won Game 6 of their first round series last year? They opened 4-of-4 from the field and 3-of-4 at the foul line to take a 13-4 lead, L.A.’s only two hoops coming on Gasol jump shots.

4:45 And then the Lakers settled in on offense, scoring on six of seven possessions to cut the lead to four at 19-15. Gasol added another jumper, Bryant two of his own and Bynum a tip in plus 1-of-2 free throws. Once LAL found its bigs inside, open jump shots that were earlier contested began to show themselves.

0:00 LAL managed OKC’s huge energy wave OK in first to trail 28-22 after one period. The Thunder shot 62.5%, made four more FT’s and two more 3′s to claim their advantage on the scoreboard.

10:00 The Lakers needed Lamar Odom’s pull-up jumper to stop a 7-0 Thunder run out of the first quarter, and even more so Odom’s three-pointer to answer Daquan Cook’s pull up from three feet behind the three-point line. Odom then cleared a defensive board and fed Shannon Brown for a transition layup, cutting OKC’s lead to nine at 38-29.

6:02 The Thunder pushed its lead to as many as 14, but Odom continued a fantastic individual stretch in which he scored seven points, tossed two assists, collected a rebound and a steal to cut that lead down to just four at 42-38.

0:00 A momentary lead was gained by the Lakers at the 2:49 mark when Artest hit a jumper, but Russell Westbrook inspired an 11-5 run to close the half, giving the Thunder a 56-51 edge at the half. Odom finished his huge quarter with two more assists, including a full court pass to Gasol that netted a layup as time expired.

7:35 Absent Kendrick Perkins, out 2-3 weeks with a sprained MCL, the Thunder had no answer for Bynum. He vaulted up to 14 points, seven boards and four blocks in a dominant stretch to start the third, helping the Lakers to an 8-0 run that pushed the visitors to a 61-60 lead.

4:21 With a pretty fadeaway J from the elbow he’s hit so many times in his career, Kobe Bryant became the 7th all-time leading score on the NBA’s list, surpassing Elvin Hayes, and tying the game in the process. It’s difficult to put that in perspective in a line, but pretty remarkable to think about the simple fact that only six players in the history of the game have scored more points than a guy still playing at a championship level.

0:29.9 Steve Blake’s three-pointer was his first make of the game, and gave the Lakers their biggest lead at 72-69. With Bryant on the bench resting for the final three minutes, the Thunder failed to score, and ended up with only 13 points in a terrific defensive quarter for the Lakers.

8:59 Derek Fisher’s backup, Blake, hit his second straight jumper to tie the game at 76, answering Cook’s third three. Westbrook’s backup, Eric Maynor, missed his sixth straight shot on the other end and finally got pulled for WB, who’d played only 25 minutes to that point.

4:38 Bryant, who’d been mostly quiet on offense, pulled up for a three-pointer that opened a 7-point lead for the Lakers, their largest to that point. The Thunder continued to scratch and claw, particularly James Harden (defending Bryant very aggressively and quite well for the most part), to come back within four points at the 2:40 mark, the Lakers trying to close out a tough road win.

0:56.4 Defiantly, Bryant nailed a fadeaway jumper to put the Lakers up three after missing the three jumpers before it and one after. But two huge defensive plays first from Artest (stripping Durant) and then Gasol (drawing Westbrook’s charge) sealed a tough win for the Lakers … right?

0:00.0 Barely. Odom missed two free throws with 10 seconds left, but the Thunder rimmed out respective three-point attempts from Durant and Harden to fall 90-87. LAL have now won four straight out of the All-Star break.

5 Blocks for Andrew Bynum, who was terrific on both ends of the floor, adding 16 points and 10 rebounds to his effort.

13 Points scored by Oklahoma City in a critical third quarter, the Lakers turning a 5-point halftime deficit into a 3-point lead heading into the fourth quarter.

14 Oklahoma City’s biggest lead of the game, attained in the second quarter, which was trimmed in large part thanks to a terrific second period from Lamar Odom.

19 Turnovers for the Thunder, off of which the Lakers scored 22 points. The two biggest came in the final minute, when Ron Artest stripped Kevin Durant, and Pau Gasol drew a charge on Russell Westbrook.

48.7 L.A.’s quite good field goal percentage for the game, thanks to Bynum’s 5-of-7, Pau Gasol’s 7-of-13 (18 points) and Odom’s 4-of-7 (nine points).

LAL in OKC for New-Look Thunder

The title of this post could have included a qualifier of “sort of.”

After all, Kendrick Perkins, the primary piece in Oklahoma City’s trade deadline deal with the Boston Celtics, is expected to miss 2-3 weeks with a sprained MCL. He suffered the injury in Boston’s Tuesday win over Golden State before being shipped to the Thunder. So while it’s a different OKC team from the one the Lakers beat in Los Angeles on Jan. 17, it’s not yet a complete team.

Gone are Jeff Green and Nenad Krstic to Boston, while Nate Robinson came over along with Perkins, who tore his ACL in Game 6 of the NBA Finals last season against the Lakers, and had played only 12 games since returning from surgery to average 7.3 points with 8.1 rebounds.

Oklahoma City got drubbed 111-88 in Orlando on Friday, an unfortunate matchup against an angry Dwight Howard who’d called out his teammates after the previous game, since Krstic was in Boston and also-acquired Nazr Mohammad (Charlotte) had yet to clear his physical. As such, Serge Ibaka and Nick Collison started at the four and five positions, with rookie Cole Aldrich the only big off the bench, and watched Howard rack up 40 points on 16-of-20 shooting.

On Sunday against the Lakers, Thunder Coach Scott Brooks may not want to use two power forwards in Ibaka and Collison against two 7-foot centers in Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol, which could mean a starting slot for Mohammad in his first game in OKC. In related news, Mohammad happened to have dropped 16 points in 24 minutes against the Lakers in L.A.’s Feb. 14 loss at Charlotte.

James Harden, charged with picking up some of the scoring slack left by Green, played 36 minutes off the bench in Orlando to score 16 points, while Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook continue to pull a ton of scoring weight from the perimeter.

The tip off is at 11:30 Pacific, and will be aired nationally on ABC as well as locally on 710 ESPN radio.

Lakers – Clippers Postgame Numbers

We kept track of some of the more interesting numbers in L.A.’s 108-95 victory over the L.A. Clippers:

27,313 Career points for Elvin Hayes, the NBA’s seventh all-time leading scorer, at least for another game. Kobe Bryant, after all, is now just 11 points away from surpassing Hayes.

38 Total points for the Clippers in the second and third quarters, when the Lakers stepped their defense up to the level it reached in back-to-back wins out of the All-Star break over Atlanta and Portland.

20 More points in the paint for the Lakers than the Clippers (38-18), whom Phil Jackson said settled for jumpers perhaps in part after getting hot from three in the first quarter … and also because the Lakers packed the paint.

18 Points in the third quarter for Bryant, who made eight of his 11 field goal attempts including two three-pointers, adding three assists to account for 24 of L.A.’s 33 points, seven more than the Clips’ 17 in the period.

11 Missed field goals for Clips rookie Blake Griffin, who made only 7-of-18 shots (38.9 percent) while mostly settling for jumpers. Lamar Odom and Pau Gasol played off him, encouraging the perimeter shots.

2 Alley-oops from Steve Blake to Devin Ebanks on back-to-back possessions in the fourth quarter. Ask Ebanks and he’ll tell you that the two connect on oops all the time in practice.

1 Shot missed by Pau Gasol, who was 8-of-9 from the field and 6-of-6 at the foul line for 22 points, second to Bryant’s 24.

Lakers 108, Clips 95: Feb. 25 Running Diary

Below is a running diary of L.A.’s Friday evening home contest against the Clippers, the team’s third game since the All-Star break, 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
Clippers: E. Bledsoe, R. Foye, R. Gomes, B. Griffin, D. Jordan

5:13 That the Clippers’ roster was depleted for this contest was most obvious in the backcourt, as starting point guard Baron Davis was shipped to Cleveland at the trade deadline and starting shooting guard Eric Gordon remained out (since Jan. 22) with a wrist injury. In their place was rookie Eric Bledsoe and still-young Randy Foye, who actually buried two threes early to keep the Clips close. Soon after, however, Gasol stroked three straight jumpers to put the Lakers up 20-12.

0:00 Despite making 11-of-18 shots in the first quarter to score 30 points, the Lakers allowed 31 to the Clips, nearly half of which came on five three-pointers, including two more from Foye. The blue and red shirts also held their own on the glass, outrebounding the Lakers 8-7, and passed the ball well to assist on 10 of their 11 field goals.

5:12 After getting a nice rest, Gasol returned to immediately convert an alley-oop and another jumper to reach a perfect 6-for-6 from the field, towards 16 points to lead the Lakers in a 45-40 contest. L.A. had yet to really pick things up from an intensity standpoint, allowing the Clips to hang around. Those six makes bumped Gasol from 12th to 10th in the NBA in field goal percentage at 53.0 percent.

3:03 It’s always big news when something happens to Kobe Bryant on the injury front, so when he asked out of the game after looking to bang elbows with Foye was a concern for the Lakers. Bryant remained on the bench for a few minutes after talking to Gary Vitti, but ultimately headed back to the locker room with another Lakers’ trainer, Alex McKechnie. Back on the court, Odom hit his second triple and Gasol his seventh deuce to give L.A. a 52-48 lead at the break. Despite the close score, the Lakers looked in pretty firm control…

4:19 … And they’d begin to assert that control on the scoreboard as well, opening up on the Clips in the third thanks mostly to Bryant. Apparently, Black Mamba enjoys hurting his funny bone, which was the official diagnosis of his second quarter ailment (more technically: ulnar nerve contusion). He hit 5-of-7 shots in the third quarter to score 11 of his 17 points, putting the Lakers up 73-60.

3:46 Sorry, let’s make that 6-of-8 in the quarter after Bryant nailed his second triple of the quarter, opening a 14-point lead for the Lakers. In reaching 20 points, Bryant was just 15 away from passing Elvin Hayes for seventh on the NBA’s all-time scoring list. Need more Bryant historical stats? OK: earlier in the game, he reached his 1,500th point on the season for the 11th straight year, the most since Karl Malone did it 12 consecutive times from 1986-87 to 1998-99.

0:00 Bryant nearly reached 20 points in the quarter, but his transition dunk came just after the buzzer sounded. He’d have to settle for 18 in the period on 8-of-11 field goals. Meanwhile, the Lakers played their second straight solid defensive quarter, holding the Clips to 17 points after they mustered 19 in the second quarter, just six more total than their 31 in the first. The result: an 85-67 LAL lead after three.

9:14 L.A. hadn’t gotten much off its bench in the first half, but both Lamar Odom and Shannon Brown were making their collective presence felt since entering late in the third. Brown, after missing all but one of his first eight shots, nailed a triple and an absurd reverse layup, while Odom hit his third triple of the game to reach nine points with six boards early in the fourth, putting L.A. up 21.

4:17 The Clippers suddenly found some life, rolling off an 11-0 run to cut L.A.’s lead to 15, but Steve Blake responded by throwing consecutive alley-oops to rookie Devin Ebanks, and Brown added a steal and flush of his own to quickly restore the lead to 21 points.

0:00 That would be all, the Lakers riding out a 108-95 victory to improve to 41-19 on the season and 3-0 out of the All-Star break.

2/24 Injury Update: Barnes Close to Returning

Lakers forward Matt Barnes participated in a full speed game of 3-on-3 at Thursday’s team workout, and afterward said he’s hoping to be back to game action as early as Sunday or Tuesday.

“Soon … a couple days,” he said of his timetable. “I got a good 30 minutes in today, and hopefully we get a little bit of time in Saturday before we leave, and I should be ready.”

Phil Jackson wasn’t willing to go quite so far.

“I’m watching Matt and I’ll talk to him tomorrow about it,” said Jackson. “We’re still saying, ‘Let’s be patient,’ we’re not in dire need. We haven’t had a lot of practice time to go on his performance level. He needs to have a practice with the team and full fledged activity.”

Barnes hopes that Saturday will be that full practice day, though the Lakers will be coming off Friday night’s game against the Clippers and prepping to leave for a Sunday game at Oklahoma City, which sometimes results in limited practice sessions. As such, we should be surprised if the team holds Barnes out for another few days, even if he’s desperate to get on the court.

“I think I need to be out there more than they need me out there,” Barnes acknowledged. “It’s been a while, man, and we started off the last home stretch well and I just want to get back in and do anything I can to help the team win.”

Barnes originally suffered a tear of the lateral meniscus of his right knee in the first half of L.A.’s Jan. 7 victory over New Orleans. He underwent surgery to repair the torn meniscus on Jan. 13, after which the team provided an eight-week estimation for recovery.

Barnes, however, was determined from the start to beat that time, and is currently at only six weeks.

“We appreciate his intensity and wanting to come back,” said Jackson. “Without a doubt, he wants to be back and he wants to help us.”

Lakers 106, Blazers 101: Feb. 23 Running Diary

Below is a running diary of L.A.’s Wednesday evening road contest, the team’s second since the All-Star break, 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
Blazers: A. Miller, W. Matthews, N. Batum, L. Aldridge, J. Przybilla

7:10 The first few minutes saw both teams go on big runs, with L.A. opening up 10-2 and Portland answering with a 9-0 run of their own. The crowd in Portland is very likely the loudest in the NBA, at least when the Lakers are in town; as we wrote earlier today, Portland treats these contests like Game 7 in a playoff series, and L.A. generally hasn’t matched that level of intensity.

2:21 Keeping the crowd quiet by scoring consistently is always a key in this game, but an ill-advised early-shot-clock jumper from Artest allowed Portland to piggy-back on a Fernandez three by another from Batum, quickly producing a six-point lead. The Blazers got another shot in the arm as Brandon Roy checked in for the first time since Dec. 15, though Bryant hit consecutive shots after missing his first five. He’d then miss a two more, however, to finish the quarter 2-for-9 as the Blazers took a 29-23 lead into the second.

6:04 The Lakers were starting to get something going on defense and converting at the other end, but Lamar Odom couldn’t collect an entry pass that would have resulted in a layup, and sure enough, the Blazers got an open three in transition. Artest then gave the ball away needlessly on the following possession, resulting in another good scoring chance from Aldridge, whose jumper made it 39-31 Portland.

0:00 When the Lakers held onto the ball and executed their offense, things went fine. But nine first half turnovers led to 15 Blazers points at the other end. That combined with the Lakers being whistled for six more fouls (12 to six) and shooting only three foul shots to Portland’s 12 produced a 47-41 Blazers lead at the break.

9:41 The Lakers were doing one thing really well on this Pacific Northwest night: shoot the three-pointer. Bryant and Fisher added their second respective triples moments after Artest hit his third, making the Lakers 7-of-9 from long distance. After another defensive stop, Bynum’s first field goal cut the Blazers lead to one at 53-52.

4:15 L.A.’s best offensive player was … Bryant? No. Gasol? No. Odom? No. Bynum? No. Yup, Ron Artest, whose jumper got him to a team-high 17 points on an efficient 6-of-9 shooting. On the next possession, Artest fed Gasol for a Spanish jumper, giving the Lakers their first lead since early in the first quarter at 61-59, though one of Bryant’s threes would be changed to a two during a time out after a Matthews jumper (thus making it 61-60 Portland).

10:00 Two free throws from Odom gave him all four early fourth quarter points for the Lakers, and they’d need ‘em as the Blazers got an uncontested tip-in, a triple and Roy’s first points on a jumper to maintain a five-point lead L.A. had cut to two at the conclusion of the third.

6:37 Upset that he didn’t get a foul call, Odom instead got hit with a technical, the Blazers converting and then adding a Matthews’ floater to open an 85-75 lead. At that point, the Lakers had been whistled for 19 fouls to Portland’s nine, and taken 16 fewer free throws. Bryant was perhaps at his most frustrated point from a reffing stand point, which is saying something.

3:28 Frustrated or not, other than a 5-for-7 third quarter, Bryant’s shot had been off, his mark at 11-for-26 on the game. With the Lakers down 87-80, he didn’t get a shot off before the clock expired. Gasol had taken not a single shot in the fourth and only five since the first quarter, and Bryant missed again on the next possession.

0:04.7 Of course, he is Kobe Bryant after all. Despite all those misses, Bryant managed to drain the two toughest shots at the biggest moment, first a baseline fadeaway with 46 seconds left, then drilled a fadeaway from one of his favorite spots on the floor, the left elbow, to tie the game at 87. On the other end, Aldridge missed three consecutive shots near the rim, including a potential game winner at the buzzer.

4:47 Odom rewarded Jackson’s decision to start him over Bynum in the extra session by promptly pulling up for a three-pointer, capping an 11-0 Lakers run since close to the five-minute mark of regulation.

1:51 The game of swings continued as Artest hit his fifth three only to see Fernandez counter at the other end. Then Miller hit a baseline J only to watch Gasol counter with a terrific and-1 around Aldridge, giving the Lakers a one-point lead. A terrific possession followed for the Lakers, as Artest cleared Gasol’s miss on the offensive glass in a play that ultimately resulted in an open jumper for Bryant in the paint that produced a 100-97 lead with 27 seconds left.

0:16.1 That should do it. Aldridge, who had not scored since a third quarter in which he was 12-of-15 for 29 points, missed two free throws, and Bryant converted both of his on the other end. Bryant then forced an over-and-back turnover on Miller, and hit the ensuing free throws to put the Lakers up seven, capping a 9-0 run. That would do it, the final score reading 106-101 for the Lakers, who scored 19 points in overtime. Stay tuned for your postgame numbers:

37 Points for Kobe Bryant, who nailed the two biggest and most difficult shots of the game on back-to-back possessions in the final minute of regulation, capping an 8-0 Lakers run that forced overtime. He added nine rebounds, six assists and three steals.

24 Points for Ron Artest, a season high, thanks largely to his 5-for-6 shooting from three-point territory. Artest added six boards, four assists and two steals in perhaps his best game of the season.

14 Rebounds for Pau Gasol, who also came up big in overtime with five of his 18 points after not taking a shot in the fourth quarter.

11 Years since the Lakers had won back-to-back games in Portland before this night, coming after their victory last February.

0 Points for LaMarcus Aldridge in the fourth quarter and overtime after he was dominant with 29 points on 12-of-15 shooting in the first three quarters.

Lakers in Portland for Aldridge, not Roy

They’re not quite the Charlotte Bobcats, but the Portland Trail Blazers have nonetheless been a major thorn in L.A.’s side over the past few seasons, at least when playing at the Rose Garden.

In fact, the Lakers had lost nine consecutive games dating back to Feb. 23, 2005, before a Kobe-Bryant-less squad won in Portland on Feb. 6 of last season. Even with that win, the Lakers are just 3-15 in their last 18 trips to Oregon.

Phil Jackson’s “they wanted it more than we did” phrase comes to mind from those games at least in the past few seasons, the Blazers and their boisterous fans approaching the two Laker games each season like Game 7 of a playoff series, but L.A. treating the games like … well, just another regular season game.

That could explain why the Lakers failed to win in Portland in two of the past three seasons (1-5 overall) while going to the Finals in each campaign. Another major factor was the play of Brandon Roy, Portland’s best player over that period of time.

But this season, Roy has played in only 23 games while battling troublesome knees, averaging career lows of 16.6 points 3.3 assists and 2.9 rebounds, numbers he exceeded even as a rookie in 2006-07. Even though the Oregonian reported Wednesday morning that Roy is likely to return against the Lakers, the current reincarnation of the Blazers may belong not to Roy, but LaMarcus Aldridge.

Since Roy was shut down on Dec. 15, Aldridge has turned into a basketball monster. He’s gotten a bit better every month, going from 15.7 points in October to 18.9 in November, then 20.4 in December and 24.9 in January. Now in February, Aldridge has gone off entirely, averaging 29.1 points with 8.3 rebounds, 1.7 blocks and 1.6 steals, all season highs for a month except on the glass (he grabbed 10.4 per game in January). He’s scored at least 34 points in five of nine February games, seven of which were Blazer wins, and hit the 40-point mark twice.

The University of Texas product had to pick things up due not only to Roy’s absence, but also that of center Marcus Camby, battling his own knee injury since January 15, who will be out of the line up against the Lakers. Replacing Camby is the much smaller Dante Cunningham, plus Joel Pryzbilla off the bench. Guards Andre Miller and Wesley Matthews have been solid throughout the season, while Nicolas Batum and Rudy Fernandez see the rest of the minutes on the wings.

It’ll be interesting to see how Roy’s able to play on his knees, but regardless, the Lakers know they’ll have to deal with Aldridge.

Lakers 104, Hawks 80: Feb. 22 Running Diary

Below is a running diary of L.A.’s Tuesday evening home contest, the team’s first since the All-Star break, 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
Hawks: M. Bibby, J. Johnson, J. Smith, A. Horford, J. Collins

9:00 Three minutes into L.A.’s post All-Star break stretch and the home team had taken an 8-0 lead on strength of three perimeter jumpers from Derek Fisher. The Hawks had tweaked their usual line up, starting 7-footer Jason Collins at center to push Al Horford to power forward and Josh Smith to small forward, with the hope of better matching up with L.A.’s bigs.

6:00 Atlanta’s commitment to packing the paint did keep the Lakers on the perimeter to start the game, L.A. simply taking what was there and hitting 5-of-9 jumpers in the first six minutes. Things opened up a bit from there, however, as Bryant earned two free throws, Gasol showed his underrated dribbling and passing skills while leading a fastbreak off a turnover (resulting in Artest’s layup) and Bryant adding a reverse lay up to make it 16-8 Lakers.

0:00 Phil Jackson was a bit dubious about how his squad would come out of the All-Star break, but he had to have been happy to see a focused, efficient effort from his team, who made 12-of-17 field goals before Shannon Brown missed a half-court attempt at the buzzer. The effective shooting and pretty focused defense produced a 28-15 edge on the scoreboard.

8:10 After a poor offensive start to the quarter, Jackson called time out, then watched Brown get to the rim for a dunk on one trip and hit a triple on the next to reach a team-high seven points, putting the Lakers up 35-23.

3:59 I thought Lamar Odom, perhaps more than any other Laker, needed the All-Star break to rest both mentally and physically. He was the only one who’d played for Team USA in the World Championships, meaning he’d barely had any time away from basketball. Apparently, the break did him some good, as he looked fresh in scoring nine points (3-of-3 FG’s) with three boards and an assist, LAL up 42-27.

0:00 From the 5:42 mark of the second until 52 seconds remained, the Hawks failed to score a single point. During that time, the Lakers rolled off 14 straight to eventually take a 53-33 lead into halftime. It was a very well balanced effort from the Purple and Gold: Fisher led the way with 10 points; Bryant notched five assists; Bynum grabbed 11 rebounds; Gasol did a bit of everything with eight points, seven boards and four assists. Overall, a terrific half.

9:42 This stanza summed up how the game had gone: Bryant got hit with a flagrant foul after mistiming his leap and coming down with two hands on Josh Smith’s shot attempt, but Smith missed both free throws and Mike Bibby a corner three on the ensuing possession. Bryant then hit a triple at the other end, putting the Lakers back up 21 points.

3:00 Atlanta finally got something going on offense, but with L.A. continuing to play well early in the quarter, an 8-2 run only got them within 20 points. A balanced offensive effort had four Lakers starters (all but Bynum) in double figures at that point, with Odom a point away from joining.

12:00 The best part of the Lakers taking a 80-54 lead into the fourth quarter as far as their coaches are concerned: few more, if any minutes needed from Bryant (26 minutes), Gasol (31), Fisher (24), Artest (23) and Bynum (25) in the fourth, though Gasol did start with Odom (17 minutes).

8:26 Gasol held his follow through after hitting a jumper that had been off on this evening (4-for-9), showing that he’s always concerned with his efficiency. He then left the game for good with 14 points, 10 boards and four assists, the Lakers up 87-60.

2:01 For good measure, rookie Devin Ebanks threw down a two-handed hammer dunk off an alley-oop from Steve Blake, lover of the oop pass. It was Blake’s fourth assist off the bench, and left Derrick Caracter as the only Laker yet to score in a 100-76 blow out.

33 First half points for Atlanta, who struggled with L.A.’s packed in defense. The Lakers watched film on help defense for at least an hour on Monday, which certainly seemed to help.

22 More rebounds grabbed by the Lakers, at 54-32.

15 Season high rebound mark tied by Andrew Bynum, who did exactly what his coaches have asked of him in this one with a combination of board work and tough defense. He took only three shots, making one. Pau Gasol added 10 boards.

11 Lakers who scored at least two points, as subs Devin Ebanks and Joe Smith added buckets in garbage time. The only player not to get on the scoreboard was Derrick Caracter.

1 Player who logged at least 30 minutes, Gasol with 34. This a good thing with a back-to-back on Wednesday night at always-tough-to-play-in Portland. Bryant played only 26 minutes en route to a game-high 20 points.

Catching up with Josh Powell

Former Lakers forward Josh Powell came to STAPLES Center on Tuesday evening with the Atlanta Hawks, whom he signed with after winning his second consecutive ring with the Lakers last June.

Powell, who maintains close relationships with several Lakers, chatted with us prior to receiving his ring from Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher in a pregame ceremony:

On what he misses about L.A.:
Powell: Of course the team and being part of that great, winning situation. It was like a brotherhood with everybody. We all ate together, we had fun, we laughed, we went through hard times and just had a lot of great experiences. The feeling of being a part of the Purple and Gold was special, whether at home or on the road, feeling the love from everybody no matter where you went. I’ve had most of the greatest experiences of my life with this team, and I’m very grateful and fortunate that I was able to be a part of something as special as what we had.

On his continual close relationship with Bryant and Fisher in particular:
Powell: They were like big brothers, and I’m still very close with those guys. We always keep in touch. On and off the court, they definitely helped me grow and mature as a person and as a player. Sometimes (Kobe and I) hit each other up to laugh and joke, sometimes we hit each other to catch up, sometimes we hit each other just to see what’s going on. It’s a lot of different things. I also keep in touch with Shannon (Brown), Luke (Walton) and some of the other guys as well.

On getting his ring from Kobe and Fisher:
Powell: It means a lot to get a ring, but to have guys that I looked up to present it to me is just a big thing. I’ve been asked questions (about the Lakers) since I got here, and I’m not a man who gives speeches, but I’m sure it’s going to be an emotional moment.

On taking over DJ duties in the Hawks’ weight room, as he did for the Lakers throughout his tenure in L.A.:
Powell: I guess it comes from me always being the one that’s in the weight room*. That’s kinda how it started when I was with the Lakers**. I was always the first one in, so I just put the music on. That’s how it’s been in Atlanta, because I’m always working hard on and off the court.
*That, and the fact that Powell’s iPod is now approaching 30,000 songs … literally.
**Phil Jackson actually noted prior to the game that the Lakers always appreciated Powell’s work ethic and what it brought to the team.

On one album we should be sure to catch that’s come out recently, since Powell used to instruct us on what was good in the music world on’s “J-Peezy’s Playlist.”
Powell: You gotta get that Rick Ross “Ashes to Ashes.” That’s a good one.