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.