Below is a running diary of L.A.’s Thursday evening road contest against the Boston Celtics, the third of a seven-game road trip, 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
Celtics: R. Rondo, R. Allen, P. Pierce, K. Garnett, K. Perkins
7:53 The major matchup Boston won in its win over the Lakers on Jan. 30 was at power forward, with Kevin Garnett going for 18 points, 13 boards and five assist, Pau Gasol only 12, seven and one. That didn’t look like it’d be the case for the playing-much-better lately Spaniard, who’d already grabbed four boards with two made jumpers in a 10-8 early lead for L.A.
5:00 Boston had a major lack of depth due to injuries to backup bigs Shaw, Jermaine O’Neal and Semih Erden, which meant Big Baby Davis had to defend Bynum after subbing in for Perkins. The Lakers immediately went to Bynum, who hit a hook over the 6-9 Davis plus the foul, though he missed the foul shot to keep the game tied at 12.
0:23.0 Bryant scored for the first time in the game on a driving layup off glass, which cut Boston’s quarter-high nine-point lead down to seven at 27-20. Turnovers were the big culprit for the Lakers, who gave the ball away five times to Boston’s zero, which made their 13-5 edge on the glass matter not a bit.
10:00 A poor start to the second quarter saw the Lakers miss four straight shots, and give up an easy and-1 in transition to Von Wafer that produced a 35-22 lead for the Celtics. Shannon Brown answered with a three, but the Celtics continued to score on the other end this time with a Perkins layup, their fourth make in five second Q attempts as LAL’s interior D suffered without Bynum on the floor.
6:28 Odom, so key in L.A.’s past wins at the Garden, struggled offensively in his first nine minutes. He made only 1-of-5 shots, and two of his missed layups led to wide-open shots in transition at the other end, Boston taking advantage to lead 42-30 into a Lakers time out.
2:19 Bynum had been very good for the Lakers in the first half, hitting two free throws to match Gasol with 12 points, cutting Boston’s lead from 15 down to nine by adding onto Gasol’s foul shots and Shannon Brown’s Chicago MJ tribute dunk (double-pump in traffic). The run grew to 10-0 as Fisher scored four straight, though Artest let Pierce, back in for the final possession, slip behind him for a reverse layup to put the C’s up 53-45 at the half.
THIRD QUARTER9:00 The Lakers were terrific to open the half, reeling off a 10-0 run to turn an 8-point deficit into a 2-point lead, with Bryant’s five straight points leading his team. Boston finally found some traction with a Pierce layup and Perkins and-1 (missed free throw), followed by a technical foul on Bryant for arguing after he was called for a travel instead of getting a foul call.
6:00 After the counter from Boston, it was Bryant and the Lakers coming back in turn, with Kobe drawing Allen’s fourth foul and promptly draining a jumper over Ray’s replacement, Von Wafer. Next came a two-handed dunk from Bynum courtesy of Gasol’s extra pass, producing a 61-60 lead halfway through the period. Their biggest lead would come moments later on a Bryant and-1, which gave the Finals MVP from last time L.A. was in the building 10 points in the quarter.
0:51.0 Odom, who made just 1-of-5 shots in the first half, tipped in Gasol’s miss, but then accidentally head-butted the Spaniard at high velocity, producing a big gash in Odom’s head as both came up a bit woozy. Perkins managed 1-of-2 free throws when the Lakers had to foul with both Odom and Gasol grabbing their heads in the backcourt, but L.A. still took a four-point lead (72-68) into the fourth quarter after a 27-15 edge in the third.
10:35 Apparently Odom didn’t mind getting a huge bandage placed on his head, because he promptly nailed a three-pointer after checking in to start the fourth. Brown then atoned for a turnover by tipping in a miss to give the Lakers their biggest lead at 77-68.
5:04 As Phil Jackson left Bryant and Gasol on the bench to rest longer than he sometimes might in games so close, his bench held onto a lead, though Boston had trimmed it down to three, with the ball, as Bynum looked tired and missed a bunny near the rim that might have made it a five-point game, instead the C’s staying within three.
3:11 At least until Kobe checked back in and scored three straight times with those fresh legs to push L.A.’s lead to 88-79. I received a text prior to Kobe and Gasol’s insertion questioning why it was taking Jackson so long and responded, “Let’s wait and see how fresh their respective legs work.” From that point on, the Lakers just held on, ultimately sealing the deal when Odom grabbed a tough offensive rebound from Garnett and Bryant got a second look at a jumper, which he drained. Your final: Lakers 92, Celtics 86.
2,561 Made three pointers in Ray Allen’s career, surpassing Reggie Miller, who happened to be calling the game on TNT. As Phil Jackson had requested prior to the game, Allen made the two he needed in the first quarter.
36 Combined points for bigs Andrew Bynum (16) and Pau Gasol (20), who were particularly effective in the first half when going for 12 points apiece. They were the collective key towards L.A.’s big 50-32 edge in paint points.
30.2 Boston’s field goal percentage in the second half, after the league’s leading shooting team had made 50.3 percent in the first half. L.A.’s defense has been outstanding late in games for all three games on their current trip.
15 Times Kobe Bryant has scored at least 20 points in a half, surpassing Dwyane Wade, who’d been tied with Bryant at 20. Eight of Bryant’s 20 second half points came in the final five minutes of the fourth quarter after he’d scored just three points on 1-of-3 field goals in a first half in which L.A. fed the ball inside to Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol.
11 More rebounds grabbed by the Lakers than the Celtics in a stat category that defined last year’s NBA Finals. Lamar Odom led the way with 12, six of which came in that fourth quarter.