Lakers 112, Clips 104: March 25 Running Diary

Below is a running diary of L.A.’s Friday evening home contest against the Clippers, the Lakers looking for their sixth straight win, 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
Clippers: M. Williams, E. Gordon, R. Gomes, B. Griffin, C. Kaman

FIRST QUARTER
7:22 The Lakers were hotter than the chicken pot pie I left in my microwave for a minute too long for lunch to open the game, sinking 8-of-9 shots to take an 18-10 lead into the first time out. Spaniard Pau Gasol opened the day he joined Twitter (@PauGasol) by sinking his first four shots, three of them jumpers, showing off the fact that he ranks third in the NBA in percentage of long two’s made (Al Horford, Dirk Nowitzki).

4:04 Speaking of long two’s from Gasol, he dropped yet another to push the Laker lead to 26-14, reaching 10 points himself as the team improved to 12-of-17 from the field.

0:00 The Lakers finally missed a few shots, finishing just 2-for-8, but still scored 33 points to take a 10-point lead out of the period. The Clips did manage the highlight of the period when Blake Griffin slammed home a half-court alley-oop, though Lamar Odom (@RealLamarOdom, while we’re at it), threw a gorgeous behind-the-back pass to Gasol for a dunk.

SECOND QUARTER
8:12 The first non-Odom scoring contribution off the Lakers bench came from @SteveBlake5, whose three-pointer gave the Lakers a 38-29 lead, despite a hustling and scrapping bunch of Clippers.

6:17 from Twitter: @LakersReporter: LAX air traffic control just alerted on a nasty up-and-under reverse jam from the baseline by @ShannonBrown. Things stayed fun on the next possession, when Ron Artest literally copied Brown’s dunk, if perhaps with less air, and Odom matched a three-pointer from Mo Williams. Then just for good measure, Griffin added a tomahawk alley-oop jam of his own. Quite a basketball show at STAPLES.

1:48 With Bynum resting, the Lakers lost their defensive edge, allowing the Clips to hang around and cut LAL’s lead to as few as three. Another Gasol jumper made it 51-46, however, giving him a game-high 14 points, meaning $14,000 for Japanese relief efforts as he pledged on Thursday. Every point equaled a grand for Japan, and in fact, Magic Johnson pledged to match whatever Gasol was able to raise, meaning $28,000 had already been earned. A steal and resulting layup from Odom allowed L.A. a 57-48 lead at the break.


THIRD QUARTER
10:36 Remember all those dunk highlights from the first half? Things turned quickly towards the opposite as Artest missed two separate transition attempts at big hammer dunks, though the home team kept control of the contest, keeping its lead between six and 10 points for the next several minutes.

5:34 Check out the shooting guard matchup: Kobe Bryant = 23 points, three assists, two rebounds on 8-for-16 shooting; Eric Gordon = 0 points, 0 rebounds, 3 assists on 0-for-11 shooting. Mo Williams, however, was hot, hitting his fourth three and ninth shot in 10 attempts for a team-high 22 points, bringing the Clips to within eight points at 71-63.

0:00 It wasn’t a strong finish to the quarter from L.A.’s bench, who blew a double-digit lead built by the starters down to five at 85-80 into the final quarter. Odom, Barnes, Blake and Brown were a combined 5-for-16 from the field at that point. Meanwhile, the Blazers pulled off an improbable last-minute comeback to beat the Spurs, leaving the Lakers five games back in the loss column, the No. 1 seed perhaps not entirely as locked up as it had appeared (San Antonio’s schedule is brutal for the next several games, and Tim Duncan remains out with a sprained ankle) even if still very solid.

FOURTH QUARTER
7:15 Back in to save the day was Bryant, who dunked in transition to put the Lakers up six points. Bryant was a +16 at that point, compared with Shannon Brown’s -14 on the evening.

5:35 Eric Gordon’s first bucket of the game, from a guy averaging 23.7 points per game, good for ninth in the NBA. Bryant, who ranks sixth in the league with 24.9 a night, answered with two free throws and then a jumper to reach 31 points, giving LAL a 101-93 lead.

1:49 Getting to the foul line was something that Bryant had been doing all night, so much so that his 16 attempts were a season high by three (he’d gotten to 13 on four different occasions). His most recent pair pushed his point total to 36 and L.A.’s lead to seven. Some shenanigans ensued moments later as Fisher took exception to a Kaman screen, resulting in one tech on Fisher and an ejection of Kaman, who seemed to be trying to get in Fisher’s face and/or ask Fisher to meet him outside after the game. Right.

0:00 It all ended, finally, at 112-104. Bryant’s 37 points led all scorers in a game that pushed the Lakers to a 14-1 mark since the All-Star break. Stay tuned for Postgame Numbers.