Lakers 96, Mavs 91: March 12 Running Diary

Below is a running diary of L.A.’s Saturday evening road contest against Dallas, the Lakers looking to get back in the win column after a narrow loss to Miami, 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
Mavericks: J. Kidd, R. Beaubois, S. Marion, D. Nowitzki, T. Chandler

FIRST QUARTER
4:10 Before a game in Dallas that the Lakers had clearly circled on the calendar, particularly as it could very well impact home court advantage in the playoffs, Phil Jackson had warned his team to pay attention to Shawn Marion. Nonetheless, Matrix scored nine early points with four rebounds in a back-and-forth game, getting consecutive hoops in transition and also taking advantage of his extra few inches over Ron Artest.

2:00 The refs were allowing a healthy amount of contact in the paint at both ends, and after being thwarted early, Gasol respond as Phil Jackson likes by pushing through for two straight hoops, giving his team a three-point lead. L.A. held Dallas to 30.4 percent shooting in the period, but the Mavs hung around by grabbing eight offensive rebounds, staying true to promises they made in local papers to focus on the glass. Pau Gasol led the Lakers with eight points, and Andrew Bynum six as L.A. took a 22-21 lead out of the quarter.

SECOND QUARTER
9:20 It was a productive start for the Lakers’ bench: Steve Blake notched his third assist on Bynum’s fifth field goal; Matt Barnes had grabbed three boards in three minutes; and Shannon Brown had four points with a board, helping L.A. to a 28-24 lead.

6:30 Bynum continued a very strong effort with his fourth dunk of the game, coming before a transition jam for Barnes that kept L.A. up 34-31. The 23-year-old center led all scorers with 12 points and six boards at that point, making up for a less productive first half at Miami.

0:00 The Lakers had struggled to close out quarters in their previous game, but did OK this time around even as Dallas got a Marion runner to cut an 8-point lead to six at the half (50-44). Bryant had inspired a solid final six minutes of the quarter with eight points and some ball-hawking defense to allow L.A. a certain semblance of control.

THIRD QUARTER
7:40 An unexpected energy boost filled American Airlines Center when a random fan in a Dirk jersey sank a half court shot to win an 82-inch TV. A few things here: 1) That same shot would have won him like $160,000 dollars from Mirage at STAPLES Center; 2) He needed an extra attempt to do it; 3) He hit it from 10 feet to the right of the center circle, which doesn’t make sense to those of us that like throwing up half court heaves, since you can have the glass if going straight on; 4) Dirk promptly hit two jumpers, clearly inspired, to cut L.A.’s lead in half.

3:14 Marion, ever the tweener, continued to give the Lakers problems with his unique game that happened to be clicking, as he reached 19 points for just the fourth time since Feb. 1 to cut L.A.’s lead to

1:52 When “Kobe Bryant” and “injury” are included in a sentence, it’s usually the worst news Lakers fans can hear, but after trying to draw a foul on Marion, Bryant landed awkwardly on his left ankle, which he’d hurt two games ago, and limped very slowly off the court. He’d head back to the locker room with Lakers Head Trainer Gary Vitti, his status to return unsure.

0:00 With Bryant in the locker room, stepping up in a big way was Blake, who hit two triples in the final moments to give the Lakers a 10-point margin all quick and in a hurry. Marion did manage a bucket to close the quarter, L.A. holding a 73-65 lead.

FOURTH QUARTER
8:48 Bryant headed back to the bench, testing his ankle during time outs and telling the staff he wanted to return to the game, watching his teammates protect their lead at 78-70 after Barnes hit 1-of-2 free throws. Barnes, an All-American HS football receiver, took a real hard foul from Mavs reserve Brian Cardinal and seemed to love it.

5:45 It was probably silly to even wonder whether Bryant would return despite how badly his ankle must have been hurting, but return he did, with L.A. up nine points. Dallas, however, got the boost upon his return, scoring four straight to cut the lead to five.

3:25 The Mavs just couldn’t handle Bynum, who promptly grabbed his 14th board and got to 20 points after drawing a foul, putting the Lakers up eight. A series of key plays followed as Kobe hit his first J since returning, a tough fadeaway on the baseline, which Dirk answered with a jumper. Bryant then had his shot blocked by Marion, and Gasol was whistled for a loose ball foul going for the rebound, Dirk’s ensuing FT’s cutting L.A.’s lead to four with two minutes to play.

0:54.4 Huge play, Ron Artest. After Bryant narrowly missed a pull-up J, Artest slid in and collected the board and stuck it back in, which he wasn’t quite able to do on Sunday at Miami, putting the Lakers up six. The Mavs, however, got a quick hoop in the lane from Terry, then quickly turned Fisher’s running miss into a Marion dunk at the other end to get within two.

0:11.0 The free throw line had been a big problem for the Lakers all night, but when it mattered most, Bynum — who missed his first five attempts — sank both to put the Lakers up five and the game out of reach. Bryant added a defensive board and two FT’s of his own to seal a 96-91 victory. Your numbers:

POSTGAME NUMBERS
22 Points for Andrew Bynum to lead the Lakers. The 23-year-old center was terrific throughout the contest, also leading all who played with 15 rebounds, his length a serious problem for the Mavs all evening. Bynum also made the game’s two biggest free throws, sealing the win with 11 seconds left to make up for missing five initial free throws.

15 Offensive rebounds for the Mavs, though only two came in the fourth quarter when the Lakers were finally able to lock down the defensive glass.

10 Missed free throws for the Lakers, though they were able to make the ones they needed late in the fourth quarter.

6.5 Minutes played by Kobe Bryant to close the game after he sprained his left ankle late in the third quarter. He’d seal the game with a rebound and two free throws, reaching 16 points with five boards and four assists.

5 Assists off the bench for Steve Blake, who also hit three triples, two of which came in an important stretch to close the third quarter after Bryant went down with the ankle sprain.