Monthly Archive for February, 2011

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Lakers 88, Spurs 89: Feb. 3 Running Diary

Below is a running diary of L.A.’s Tuesday evening home contest against the Houston Rockets, 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*
Spurs: T. Parker, M. Ginobili, R. Jefferson, D. Blair, T. Duncan
*Bynum returned to L.A.’s starting line up after missing the previous game with a bone bruise on his left knee.

7:59 After a decent start highlighted by a two-handed dunk from the back-from-knee-bruise Bynum, the Spurs reeled off five straight points to take a 9-6 lead, thanks to a corner three from Richard Jefferson produced by a back screen from Antonio McDyess (in the game due to two early fouls from DeJuan Blair). However, back-to-back hoops from Bynum (turnaround move over Duncan) and Fisher (transition layup from Bryant) put the Lakers back on top.

2:52 The Lakers were probably fortunate to be down only six points (18-12) after shooting only 38.5 percent (5-for-13) while committing six turnovers, in part because their defense had been good, the Spurs actually shooting worse at 37 percent. Yet due to the turnovers, they’d taken nine more shots, making three more field goals led by Jefferson’s 4-for-5 (two three pointers.

0:04.7 Odom thought he pulled the Lakers to within two with a slashing hoop off Bryant’s sixth assist, but Spurs rookie Gary Neal did his best Odom impression by sinking a falling-out-of-bounds buzzer-beater to make it 22-18 San Antonio.

8:10 After the Spurs ran the exact same play to get an open wing three for George Hill which had worked for Jefferson in the first quarter, Steve Blake countered with L.A.’s first three-point make in five attempts to make it a 29-26 deficit for the home team. The Spurs weren’t able to establish any low post game with Duncan on the bench, but had been hitting enough outside shots (including three triples) to stay in front.

6:00 Phil Jackson got six minutes of rest for both Bryant and Gasol as Odom brought the Lakers back even, scoring four straight points while finally getting some touches in his 10 minutes of action.

0:44.6 The Lakers had taken control of the game with a solid effort at both ends before a late meltdown allowed the Spurs to make up a 7-point deficit, tying the game at 42 heading into the locker room. Jackson was particularly heated at Odom after the lanky lefty first missed a layup, then allowed Tony Parker his second straight layup at the other end, just one of several late mistakes and misses for the home team.

7:34 Artest continued a good individual game with a left-handed finish off glass to counter Parker’s transition layup, cutting San Antonio’s lead to three. It almost became one, but Duncan swatted Bynum’s attempted dunk at the rim on the following possession. The Spurs had picked up their play out of the halftime gates, the Lakers having yet to rediscover the play that had allowed their seven-point lead in the second.

4:18 Odom entered a game in which S.A. held onto a 56-54 lead, though Bryant was starting to heat up after hitting back-to-back pull-up J’s from the elbow to reach 12 points, plus his seven boards and six assists. Meanwhile, the Spurs were running a lot of high pick and roll with Parker and Duncan, first producing a pull-up J for Parker and then two free throws for the Frenchman.

2:18 After Parker buried his seventh straight field goal (this after missing his first five shots of the game), L.A. ran off a quick 5-0 run out of a time out to cut S.A.’s once 8-point lead down to three. Parker then hit yet another shot, a tough runner off glass, but Bryant’s two free throws countered for the Purple and Gold.

11:00 The Lakers, entering the quarter down three after the two traded points to close the third, scored the first four points of the fourth on an Artest layup and Brown pull-up jumper to re-take the lead at 67-66. Blake, Brown, Artest, Odom and Bynum were in there against Neal, Ginobili, Jefferson, McDyess and Blair as the respective second units looked for an edge.

9:07 But back came the Spurs, running off an 8-2 run to take a 74-69 lead. Odom missed a wide-open perimeter jumper for the third time in the second half (2-for-7 on the game) at the other end, as Phil Jackson took a time out to discuss.

6:08 After the Spurs re-opened an eight-point lead on a Jefferson three, the Lakers scored five straight points behind Odom’s and-1 and a pull-up jumper from re-entered Bryant to make it 79-76. The Lakers had a chance for back-to-back points thanks to solid defensive rotations on S.A.’s bread-and-butter delayed screen/roll play with Duncan and Parker, forcing Parker into a deep, contested jumper that missed.

2:48 Instead of a stop with a chance to tie, the Lakers conceded an offensive board and then and-1 layup from Parker to fall behind by five. Odom did manage a layup at the other end, and after Gasol stole the ball by jumping an entry pass intended for Duncan, he drew Ginobili’s foul in the paint and went to the line for the first time, hitting one of two shots to pull L.A. within two.

0:22.7 A huge Odom three with one minute left from the top of the key cut San Antonio’s lead to one, and after another stop (Jefferson missed three), Bryant made a great pass to get Gasol two free throws after the Spaniard cut through the lane and was hacked. The Spurs, down one with the ball, saw Ginobili miss a three and Parker a runner, but they kept the ball as Artest hit it out of bounds with 4.6 seconds left.

0:04.6 And what a 4.6 seconds they were, as Duncan missed a 15-footer, but McDyess slipped in front of Odom for a game-winning tip in with 0.01 seconds left on the clock, a play that needed to be reviewed by the officials. With a touch of his hand to the ball, McDyess put the Spurs up 7.5 games on L.A. in the West, instead of what looked like 5.5 games. Stay tuned for postgame numbers.

Gasol Joins Bryant on All-Star Team

For the fourth time in his career Pau Gasol has been named to the Western Conference All-Star team.

Gasol has averaged a double-double on the season with 18.4 points and 10.6 rebounds to go along with 3.7 assists and 1.92 blocks per game while starting games at both center and power forward.

Pau made his All-Star debut in 2006 in Houston but failed to record a point as he went 0-for-3 from the field in just under 15 minutes of play but did grab a game-high 12 rebounds for the West. Since then he’s gone for double-digit points in both appearances, tallying 14 in Phoenix in 2009 and 13 last year at Cowboys Stadium in Dallas.

The 60th All-Star Game will be played at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles on Sunday, Feb. 20.

Bynum Expected to Play vs Spurs

UCLA Health SystemThe Lakers are listing Andrew Bynum as “probable” for their Thursday evening showdown against the San Antonio Spurs.

Bynum, who suffered a bone bruise to his left knee against the Celtics on Sunday and missed Tuesday’s game against Houston, is expected to play.

Assistant coach Chuck Person said in our LakersTV scouting report that Bynum’s size is particularly important against Tim Duncan and the Spurs.

“Having ‘Drew in there makes all the difference in the world for us because of his ability on the defensive end with the rebounding, shot blocking and sheer manpower of enforcing the middle,” said Person. “On the offensive end, he can keep Duncan busy so Duncan can’t roam around and help out all over the floor.”

Lakers – Rockets Postgame Numbers

We highlighted some of the more interesting numbers from L.A.’s first overtime victory of the season, a 114-106 result over the Houston Rockets.

5,000 Career assist plateau reached by Kobe Bryant in the first quarter with one of his seven early dimes.

141 Combined minutes played by Bryant (45), Pau Gasol (47) and Lamar Odom (49).

20 Rebounds for Odom, a season high, alongside his 20 points and three assists.

16 Bench points for the Lakers, which doesn’t look great on paper but was more significant since Shannon Brown and Steve Blake were very good early in the fourth quarter, and Blake the entire overtime while matching up with Aaron Brooks. The stat also reflected how few minutes were afforded to Lakers bench players with Odom starting in Andrew Bynum’s absence and playing huge minutes.

11 Free throws attempted by Kevin Martin, who herks and jerks his body in all different ways throughout the game trying to draw fouls. He managed to get both Lamar Odom and Devin Ebanks to foul him on three-point attempts. Martin, however, did not attempt a free throw after the third quarter.

10 First quarter assists for the Lakers, matching their total for the entire game against Boston on Sunday. The Lakers finished with 22 assists on 44 field goal makes.

1 Overtime games played this season by the Lakers, who hadn’t gone to an extra session once in their first 48 contests.

Lakers 114, Rockets 106: Feb. 1 Running Diary

Below is a running diary of L.A.’s Tuesday evening home contest against the Houston Rockets, 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, Odom* and Gasol
Rockets: K. Lowry, K. Martin, S. Battier, L. Scola, C. Hayes
*Odom makes his 25th start of the season due to a bone bruise to the left knee of Andrew Bynum.

9:00 With Bynum out, the matchups between Houston and the Lakers are quite different in the paint, since the Rockets can better match up size wise by leaving Luis Scola on Odom and Chuck Hayes on Gasol, instead of having Scola give up several inches to the Spaniard on the block. Rockets Coach Rick Adelman cited this advantage for his squad prior to the game, but one counter point is that Odom’s inclusion with the starters can make LAL better in terms of transition defense against the ready-to-run Rockets. While Hayes does have a strong base that makes it difficult for Gasol to back down, Pau can shoot right over the top of him, which he did to make it 6-4 early.

2:03 What the Lakers may lose in defense with Bynum out of the game they pick up with ball movement and general effectiveness on offense with Odom’s inclusion in the starting line up (which isn’t to say Odom hasn’t been very good on D, which would be false). We saw this affect early, as L.A. opened a 27-19 lead with Steve Blake’s transition layup. Odom had four points, six rebounds and two dimes, while Fisher and Artest were benefiting from that ball movement by combining to go 6-for-6 from the field, including three triples.

0:00 Kobe Bryant didn’t join his teammates with the excellent shooting (60 percent in the first) because he was too busy dishing out seven assists en route to surpassing the 5,000 mark for his career. To put that in perspective, Sam Cassell’s 5,939 ranks 30th among all players in league history. The Lakers used the ball movement to take a 31-23 lead over Houston, who stuck around thanks in part to six offensive rebounds that made up for 39.1 percent shooting.

6:55 We mentioned those Bryant dimes … but his game of course has always been more about scoring (27,000+ career points) so it wasn’t a surprise to see him take advantage of a matchup with Courtney Lee by hitting three straight shots that put the Lakers up 41-31.

3:51 We saw both the good and bad Shannon Brown on offense in the second, at least as far as L.A.’s coaches see it. First came an in-rhythm jumper from three that he swished home. But later, instead of taking the open triple, Brown tried to put the ball on the floor, and traveled. Meanwhile, the Lakers held a seven-point lead, still operating pretty well on offense.

0:23.7 The Rockets managed to cut a once 12-point lead down to just one when rookie Devin Ebanks got caught by Kevin Martin’s swing-through move resulting in three free throws, but Gasol led a quick charge back on the other end by scoring four points, the second bucket created by his offensive rebound, to give the Lakers a 54-48 lead at the break.

8:00 While Martin’s one of the league’s worst defenders, Chuck Hayes is one of its best. He picked off a pass a possession after drawing his third charge (second on Kobe) and the Rockets capitalized at the other end by cutting L.A.’s lead down to one at 60-59.

6:31 A poor start to the second half for the Lakers continued as Martin drew a three-shot foul, his second of the game, to take his 8th, 9th and 10th free throws, then hit a wide-open three in transition after a long miss from Bryant to put the Rockets up 64-61, the first lead of the night for the visitors.

1:54 A pull-up triple was Odom’s second of the quarter, but just his fourth make in 13 attempts overall for the game. Nonetheless, the long-range J put the Lakers up a bucket, though Scola’s jumper on the other end would tie the score entering the final quarter. Odom’s frontcourt partner Gasol had made only one of his four shots in the quarter, meanwhile, though the two had combined for 24 rebounds.

10:30 Gasol blocked more shots in the first minute and change of the fourth than he made field goals in the third to reach four swats in the game; the Lakers took advantage at the other end as Steve Blake nailed a triple, and Shannon Brown a transition dunk to make it 81-76 for the home team.

7:06 L.A.’s bench hadn’t had much of an opportunity to play with Gasol and Odom logging heavy minutes, but Blake and Brown made the most of their early fourth action by combining with the two bigs to push L.A. to a seven-point lead. Phil Jackson then tried to get a couple minutes of rest for Gasol, who along with Odom had already logged 37 minutes.

3:30 The Rockets erased L.A.’s six-point lead in under a minute thanks to back-to-back threes, their 9th and 10th makes of the game, but the Lakers responded out of a time out with a 6-0 run of their own, including two buckets from Bryant (26 points) and one from Odom (16 points, season-high 19 rebounds).

0:05.5 So … the Lakers couldn’t protect their six-point lead with just over three minutes to go, instead allowing buckets to Scola and Brooks before a beautiful play with five seconds left got Scola a wide-open layup. Bryant had missed twice on the previous possession, the second one over the outstretched hands of two Rockets on the baseline, though LAL still had a chance for a buzzer beater…

… but they weren’t able to get anything better than a contested three from Odom, who missed to send the game to overtime.

2:00 After converting a tough lefty hook over Hayes for his 22nd point, he cleared rebound No. 15 on the defensive end. He then converted two free throws to tie the game at 104 after the Rockets had opened a momentary four-point lead.

0:38.3 Consecutive buckets from Gasol (reverse layup from Kobe) and Kobe (driving lay-in) came at a good time for the Lakers, allowing a two-possession lead for the first time in overtime. Then came Blake’s* season-high sixth rebound and two converted free throws at the other end after Lowry poked him in the eye.
*Blake played all five OT minutes to match up with Houston’s line up of Brooks and Lowry in the backcourt.

0:00 And finally, it ended at 114-106 for the Lakers, who outscored Houston 16-8 in overtime. Stay tuned for postgame numbers.

Gasol Named 2010 Euro Player of the Year

From the Lakers game notes regarding Pau Gasol being named 2010 European Player of the Year:

In January, La Gazzetta dello Sport, one of the premier sports journals in the world, named Pau Gasol European Player of the Year for the THIRD consecutive year. The prestigious award was decided on by a panel of judges comprised of players, coaches and basketball journalists. Gasol beat out Dallas’ Dirk Nowitzki (2nd), who had won the award five consecutive years from 2002-06, and the Spanish League’s Juan Carlos Navarro (3rd) of FC Barcelona. The first Spanish player to win the award, Gasol joins Nowitzki as the only other player to win the award three-straight years. Other notable past winners include Arvydas Sabonis (6-time winner), Toni Kukoc (5-time winner), Drazen Petrovic (4-time winner) and Tony Parker.

Bynum Out Tuesday with Bone Bruise

Lakers center Andrew Bynum will not play in Tuesday night’s game against Houston due to a bone bruise on his left knee that was revealed in an MRI.

Bynum, who missed the first 24 games of the season while recovering from offseason knee surgery on his right knee, is listed as day-to-day.

His playing status for future games is yet to be determined.