Lakers 92, Bobcats 84: March 4 Running Diary

Below is a running diary of L.A.’s Friday evening home game against the Bobcats, the Lakers looking for their sixth 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:

Starters
Lakers: Fisher, Bryant, Artest, Gasol and Bynum
Bobcats: D.J. Augustin, G. Henderson, S. Jackson, B. Diaw, K. Brown

FIRST QUARTER
2:27 This game may have been decided before things actually tipped off. The Lakers, still angry about their worst game of the season at Charlotte just before the All-Star break, essentially guaranteed victory. Well … Matt Barnes (expected to return) actually did, literally, guarantee a win after Thursday’s practice. And sure enough, the effort was there in the opening minutes, as a Lamar Odom layup capped a 15-2 run to open a 21-12 lead for L.A. into the first time out.

0:00 The only Laker struggling to score early on was Kobe Bryant, who made only 2-of-9 field goals before hitting three straight shots to close the quarter at 5-for-12 for 10 points. In the process, the Lakers took a 29-19 lead out of a first quarter they thoroughly controlled.

SECOND QUARTER
7:08 L.A.’s defense continued to offer good activity early in the second, allowing the team to maintain a 10-point edge as Gasol hit two free throws. The team had committed just a single turnover (Shannon Brown) at that point.

5:00 Word came from L.A.’s PR staff that Barnes actually aggravated his knee injury in pregame warmups, and would not play against Charlotte. He would be listed as day-to-day, so his availability for Sunday’s game at San Antonio was unknown. Meanwhile, the ‘Cats were hanging around, though getting no closer than six points.

THIRD QUARTER
11:02 Gasol brought down a rebound, his fifth, actually eight behind teammate Bynum grabbed in the first half alone, helping the Lakers maintain that 10-point advantage all the way through the half. The Lakers actually shot the ball very poorly, hitting only 38.8 percent (including Kobe’s 6-for-17) and made just 1-of-11 threes, but their defense was staunch as the ‘Cats were even worse at 34 percent.

5:22 L.A.’s lead swelled to 17 when Artest hit two free throws, moments after Bynum had collected his season-high 16th rebound. He was also two points away from his third double-double in four games.

3:00 While Barnes tweaked his knee before the game, Fisher added himself to the injury report after getting his elbow bent back in a tie-up with Charlotte’s Kwame Brown. After chatting with Lakers trainer Gary Vitti, Fisher went back to the locker room, presumably to check on the elbow.

FOURTH QUARTER
9:02 The ‘Cats were still battling, but a 7-0 Lakers run pushed the lead up to 15 at 78-63. Charlotte had lost their best player, Stephen Jackson (side note: Gerald Wallace was traded), to a strained left hamstring, leaving D.J. Augustin as really the only shot-creator on the roster.

4:00 Phil Jackson opted to keep Kobe on the bench and let Gasol (20 points, 10 rebounds, four assists) and Odom (nine, nine and four) usher the game to its close, with the lead mostly staying between 10 and 15 points throughout the period. Jackson enjoys having chances to put Gasol in particular in leadership roles, and the Spaniard responded in this case.

0:00 Eight points would be the final margin on the scoreboard, the Lakers winning for the sixth straight time out of the All-Star break, even if concerned about the injuries to Derek Fisher and Matt Barnes. We’ll find out more after the game and particularly tomorrow on those injuries, but until then, check the next post for your postgame numbers.