Lakers 97, Magic 84: March 14 Running Diary

Below is a running diary of L.A.’s Monday evening home contest against Orlando, the Lakers looking for a home win after taking 3-of-4 on a tough road trip, 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
Magic: J. Nelson, J. Richardson, H. Turkoglu, R. Anderson, D. Howard

FIRST QUARTER
5:15 Andrew Bynum will tell you that he prefers going against opposing big men who are around his size. He relishes the contact, and recognizes that he has a unique skill set to accompany his size, giving him an edge over most guys his size. Orlando, of course, boasts All-Star Dwight Howard, whom Bynum outplayed in the opening stanza while going for seven rebounds, four points and a swat of Howard, who had three points and two boards, Orlando still up 13-12 thanks to 5-of-9 shooting.

0:00 Even with the Lakers falling behind 25-19 at the quarter due to their putrid shooting (27 percent), the arena was abuzz due to the outstanding play of Bynum, who continued to dominate Howard while amassing six points, 11 rebounds and three blocks (two of Howard) to just three points and four boards for Orlando’s big guy. Phil Jackson has mentioned how Bynum’s size is overwhelming for most opponents in the league, but most didn’t realize this included the smaller Howard.

SECOND QUARTER
8:21 After managing just six points in the paint in the first quarter, Gasol scored six points in the paint in two minutes, getting easy buckets thanks to Lamar Odom’s passing and Howard’s presence on Orlando’s bench. Gasol, who’d opened just 1-for-6 on contested shots from the middle of the lane, was up to nine points to lead all scorers.

6:24 Normally when Shannon Brown shows off his 45-inch vertical, he’s soaring through the air for a one-handed hammer dunk. This time, the hops came out for a big swat of Chris Duhon, bringing STAPLES Center to its feet.

0:22.1 Fisher’s pull-up jumper closed the first half scoring, bumping a very poor shooting percentage up slightly to 35.4 percent for the half. The Lakers hit only one three-pointer (also Fisher) to Orlando’s six, and couldn’t be too upset to be down only five points at 46-41 after such a poor shooting performance. Bryant, playing on that tender ankle from a bad sprain in Dallas, missed all but two of his 10 shots, coming up short on several attempts, while Ron Artest missed all four of his shots and Bynum five of his seven.

THIRD QUARTER
10:48 The game started with a Ryan Anderson made three and Gasol missed hook, but the third quarter was exactly the opposite, Anderson missing and Gasol converting a short hook. Bynum followed with an and-1 after collecting his 14th rebound, tying the score at 46 thanks to a 5-0 run.

5:30 Gasol’s a night owl, preferring to start his days later as many of his fellow Catalans do from his home in Barcelona, and that proved to reflect upon his game against Orlando. He opened just 1-for-6 from the field, but then made 6-of-7 shots in the next two quarters to reach a game-high 15 points. Following his seventh field goal, Odom hit a transition layup and Fisher a driving reverse layup in transition to put the Lakers up 60-55, their biggest lead of the game.

0:00 The teams played even for the final five minutes of the period, L.A. maintaining a 5-point lead at 71-66, outscoring the Magic by 10 in the first six minutes of the period. The Lakers improved their poor first half shooting in a big way, making 62 percent of their shots (13-for-21) including Bryant’s 5-for-8.

FOURTH QUARTER
6:04 The starters returned after a terrific stretch of basketball from L.A.’s second unit, who turned that five-point edge out of the third into a 12-point advantage when Bryant, Gasol, Fisher and Artest returned alongside Bynum. The lead reached as many as 16 points when Odom followed fellow subs Matt Barnes and Brown with three-pointers, the first two coming from Steve Blake. After an up-and-down road trip from the bench, a comfort level was clearly reached by the second unit behind a very active STAPLES Center crowd.

3:52 Bynum capped off a memorable individual night by matching his career high with 18 rebounds, the Lakers leading 92-76 as he and Bryant were replaced by Odom and Barnes. Bynum received a standing ovation for his boards, 10 points, four blocks and play against Howard, while Bryant walked straight back to the locker room to begin treatment on his surely-sore ankle.

0:00 The final score, 97-84, reflected L.A.’s terrific second half in it they outscored the visitors 56-38, getting something from all nine players who appeared. More coming soon in the postgame numbers, the Lakers improving to 10-1 since the All-Star break, eight of those teams headed for the playoffs.