Below is a running diary of L.A.’s Friday evening home contest against Cleveland, the Lakers looking for a fifth straight win and seventh straight at home, with some comments drawn from our @LakersReporter Twitter account, and a few more details in case you missed any of the action:
Lakers: Fisher, Bryant, Barnes, Gasol and Bynum
Cavs: K. Irving, A. Parker, O. Casspi, A. Jamison, A. Varejao
10:00 It was all Bynum early, L.A. using its superior size to get the big fella three touches next to the rim, and a 6-0 lead. The Cavs are quite small in starting Jamison at the four and Varejao (who may be a more natural power forward) at center, something Mike Brown knows well (thus the game plan).
5:20 Not the best night for Derek Fisher to pick up two early fouls, since his backup Steve Blake was unavailable due to injured ribs. Enter rookie second rounder Darius Morris, an L.A. native, whose first appearance at home this season produced a corner three, and consecutive assists to Gasol and Barnes to put L.A. up 21-18. And by the way … Morris would be having his name called quite often, as we learned that Blake would actually miss 3-4 weeks after further evaluation, differing from his original “day-to-day” diagnosis.
0:00 While Bynum was a perfect 5-for-5 in the first, Kobe wasn’t far behind, hitting 4-of-5 FG’s and 3-of-3 FT’s to reach a game-high 11 points, enough to put L.A. up 32-28 after one. The defense wasn’t where Brown wanted it, however, L.A. conceding nearly 50 percent shooting to Cleveland.
9:00 Leading a second unit of Morris, Devin Ebanks, Troy Murphy and Jason Kapono (the latter two returning after two missed games apiece) was Gasol, who improved to 4-of-5 from the field with a jumper, and grabbed three defensive boards to reach a game-high six. L.A., thus, held onto a 35-29 lead.
4:35 On the previous trip, the refs changed what appeared to be a Kobe three to a two … so he just pulled up from three on the next trip down, and sunk it. Fair enough. He was quickly up to 18 points on 7-of-10 shooting. Bryant hitting threes consistently will be a sign of the wrist feeling better, as getting a feel from long distance through the wrist has been a struggle for him all season (19.6 percent). Indeed, he’d nail another triple two minutes later to put L.A. up 13.
0:00 We spoke too soon, as Bryant nailed yet another deep three to reach 24 points on 9-of-13 field goals. Meanwhile, the Lakers defense was excellent in the second quarter, holding Cleveland to only 13 points on 4-of-20 shooting (20 percent).
9:11 A minute after catching an alley-oop from Barnes, Gasol returned the favor by leading the break and lofting one for L.A.’s starting small forward. Gasol was at it again on the next trip down, hitting a jumper to improve to 16 points with his eight boards and three dimes.
7:14 The season-high 10th assist from Fisher got Barnes another hoop, giving him 13 points as the fourth Laker in double figures. L.A., however, forgot about defense for a few possessions, enough to elicit a Mike Brown time out after a quick 6-0 Cavs run cut the lead to 13.
2:24 For the seventh time in eight games, Kobe hit the 30-point mark, this time on an and-1. He’d missed all but one of his first six attempts from the perimeter in the third, perhaps suggesting that his wrist tightened up at halftime … thus driving to the hoop for the and-1. L.A. held a 12-point lead. Cleveland would pull one bucket back before the quarter buzzer, making it 82-70 Lakers into the final quarter. Kobe was up to 35 points after his fourth triple, and a pull-up J in transition.
7:07 A poor start to the final quarter suddenly had Cleveland within three points, as L.A. went 0-for-7 from the field on one end, largely with a line up featuring three second round picks (Morris, Andrew Goudelock and Ebanks), while allowing nine points to the Cavs. The starters returned with 7:43 to play.
4:02 Bryant’s jumper was only the second Lakers field goal of the quarter, but the starters had reclaimed control with defense, holding the Cavs without points on five straight trips to lead 87-79. His next hoop came two minutes later, again on a jumper, giving him 40 points for the third straight game, and this the first time he’d scored at least 40 in three consecutive games since March of 2007, when he was 27 years old.
0:57.6 A Bynum free throw put the lead back at 10 in the final minute, though his alley-oop layup from Gasol had just about sealed things moments earlier. Gasol (18 points, 10 boards, four assists), Bynum (15 points, 11 boards, three assists) and Bryant (40 points, five boards, three assists) all had terrific games, while Fisher’s 10 assists and 15 points from Barnes didn’t hurt. More points would come as Cleveland managed to drain a couple of last minute threes, and L.A. some free throws, producing a 97-92 final.
That’s seven straight home wins for L.A. after the opening day last-second loss to Chicago, and five straight overall. We’ll see you tomorrow night for Lakers – Clippers.