Lakers 110, Mavs 82: March 31 Running Diary

Below is a running diary of L.A.’s Thursday evening home contest against the Dallas Mavericks, the Lakers looking for their eighth 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
Mavericks: J. Kidd, R. Beaubois, S. Marion, D. Nowitzki, T. Chandler

FIRST QUARTER
8:33 Jason Kidd’s second three in the early minutes put Dallas up 10-6, but the more interesting element in the game from a tactical standpoint was Dallas guarding Bryant with the 6-2 Rodrigue Beaubois, who starts for his offense alongside Kidd. Last time these teams met, Shawn Marion spent a lot of time on Bryant, and Ron Artest punished Jason Kidd, but with Beaubois on him, Bryant took four shots in four minutes, hitting two.

5:12 At the first extended time out, both teams were hot offensively, shooting identical 8-of-14 lines (57 percent) in an 18-17 lead for the Mavs thanks to an extra three-pointer. Bryant and Gasol had six points apiece for L.A., while both Kidd and Dirk Nowitzki had the same amount for Dallas. The Mavs, who beat the Clippers 106-100 in the same building on the previous night, looked sharp, while the Lakers, off since Sunday, were there on offense but not yet on D.

2:38 Mavs owner Mark Cuban had made some comments about wanting Ron Artest to make decisions and shoot the ball, but Artest had the last laugh in the first quarter by assisting on five of his team’s 11 field goals. Meanwhile, Bynum punished the smaller Tyson Chandler in the paint with consecutive hoops, this after Phil Jackson had commented on Chandler not being able to handle Bynum’s strength after L.A.’s March 12 win at Dallas. L.A. would take a 28-26 lead out of the period.

SECOND QUARTER
9:18 A solid defensive effort from subs Matt Barnes, Steve Blake and Shannon Brown, all flying around the perimeter, helped hold Dallas to just two points in the first three minutes while Barnes and Bynum had back-to-back hammer dunks at the other end to bring Bryant, Fisher and Co. out of their seats. Bynum and Gasol were a combined 8-for-11 at that point, the length getting to Dallas once again.

6:00 L.A. controlled the first half of the quarter until Dallas had a quick hot streak on offense, getting six points from J.J. Barea and two triples from Peja Stojakovic, the first of which banked in off glass despite being launched from the baseline, to turn a 37-32 deficit into a 40-38 lead.

2:49 But back came the Lakers, inspired by Ron Artest, going on a 7-0 run to take a six-point lead on Gasol’s and-1. Artest sank a long two and came up with a steal, continuing to play inspired ball against a team he felt slighted him in that March 12 game by defending him with Kidd. A Bryant three pushed the lead to seven, though Dallas trimmed off four points to get within three at 54-51 at the break. Two related stats: Dallas out-rebounded L.A. 25-18, but seven second quarter steals (after none in the first quarter) for the Lakers allowed the Mavs more defensive board opportunities.

THIRD QUARTER
10:26 With Artest’s third three and two Gasol free throws, L.A. opened its biggest lead at 60-52. The triple came courtesy of Bryant’s four assist, a passing lane opening up when the Mavs had to collapse to help Beaubois on Kobe. Moments later, the margin reached double digits for the first time on a Gasol tip-in of Bryant’s miss.

4:36 A Kidd strip of Bryant was just the fifth turnover of the game for the home team. But after Dirk’s tough J over Odom, Bryant responded with a difficult baseline jumper, plus a foul on the swiping-at-the-ball Kidd, to put the Lakers back up by 10. Generally speaking, L.A. had controlled the game since early in the second quarter.

0:00 A great close to the third was keyed by Odom, who nailed a corner three to make it 82-70, a lead preserved on the other end by Bynum’s swat in the lane. Odom had outplayed fellow Sixth Man of the Year candidate Jason Terry, going for seven points, seven boards and two assists to five points, three dimes and a board for Terry … who had played 10 more minutes than Odom (25 to 15).

FOURTH QUARTER
11:20 Did we mention Lamar Odom had been big in the third? Well, he opened the fourth by sinking back-to-back three-pointers, scoring nine points all on triples in a minute’s time to suddenly put the Lakers up 18 points at 88-70.

9:23 And then things got completely insane. It all started when Terry unnecessarily shoved Blake out of bounds. Blake, who never backs down to anyone, let alone a guard (he usually scraps with centers) got right up and into Terry’s face. Enter Barnes, who came in trying to support Blake, who then pushed Terry. Enter Brendan Haywood, who then shoved Barnes. It was about to end until a Mavs assistant coach (Terry Stotts) grabbed Barnes, trying to get him away, and Barnes took exception before shaking Stotts off him. Stotts fell into a fan courtside … just craziness. Eventually, it all ended, with all four players being ejected and Terry hit with a flagrant two foul. The Mavs picked Theo Ratliff to shoot the free throws since Blake was out, the same player activated only because Derrick Caracter was sent to the D-League and wasn’t going to see any action, and he missed both. THEN, Dallas went on a 5-0 run to cut L.A.’s lead to 12. And now my fingers are tired.

5:55 The lead was soon back at 20, however. Kobe led the charge, reaching 27 points with six straight, and moments later the insane six minutes of action got a bow on top as Artest scored with one hand through Peja Stojakovic (you know how he does it while sealing space for an offensive board), then kissed his bicep. Naturally.

0:00 It was all over at that point. Odom got a standing O when checking out with 16 points and 10 boards in his 23 outstanding minutes, and three minutes later the game was over, L.A. taking a 110-82 victory to win the season series with Dallas 2-1. Your numbers:

POSTGAME NUMBERS
2.5 Games behind the Spurs for first in the Western Conference after L.A.’s 16th win to just one loss since the All-Star break. The Spurs have lost five games in a row. The two teams play on April 12. Meanwhile, L.A. (54-20) improved to two losses ahead of Dallas (53-22) in the loss column.

3 Three-pointers nailed by Lamar Odom in a one-minute area around the end of the third and start of the fourth quarters, turning a nine-point lead into an 18-point blow out. Odom was terrific all night, going for 16 points, 11 rebounds and three assists. His main opposition to Sixth Man of the Year honors, Jason Terry, had only five points and three assists on 2-of-9 shooting before being ejected in the fourth quarter…

5 … And Terry was just one of five players to get tossed. See the Running Diary for a description of some fourth quarter shenanigans, but it all started when Terry unnecessarily shoved Steve Blake down from behind.

11 Free throws made by Kobe Bryant en route to a game-high 28 points, plus five boards and four assists in 37 minutes.

27.5 Shooting percentage for the Mavs in the second half, L.A. stepping up its defense in a big way.