Lakers 96, Mavs 91: Feb. 22 Running Diary

Below is a running diary of L.A.’s Wednesday evening road contest at Dallas, the Lakers returning to Dallas for the first time since last season’s playoff loss in the Western Semi’s, 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, World Peace, Gasol and Bynum
Mavs: J. Kidd, V. Carter, S. Marion, D. Nowitzki, B. Haywood

12:00 First, folks: Lamar Odom is not here. Odom had a family issue that needed attending in Los Angeles, so he hopped a flight home. This thins the Mavs bench, likely meaning more minutes for Brandan Wright or Brian Cardinal. On the court, it was all LAL’s bigs early, as Gasol scored on a pretty baseline fadeaway over Dirk, then twice lobbed the ball to Bynum for alley-oop dunks.

8:13 Gasol continued an excellent individual start by making three more shots (4-of-5), opening a 12-3 Lakers edge, taking advantage of Mavs traps on Kobe. Some very pretty offensive basketball had Rick Carlisle calling his second time out of the game.

0:00 In what was overall a very strong first quarter, L.A. conceded a corner three from Vince Carter that had Bryant a bit peeved heading to the bench. Nonetheless, the Spaniard’s 12-point, 3-board, 2-assist performance stood out in a big way, suggesting that all of the trade conversations and worries from the past few weeks were out of his mind. L.A.’s lead was 25-21.

8:04 Bynum’s third alley-oop dunk of the game was his most impressive, this one coming from Barnes, to put L.A. up 32-28. Also notable: Dirk had yet to score, despite coming in on a hot streak. But that was sure to change eventually…

5:37 A really strong effort from the Lakers bench suddenly had L.A. up 42-28, thanks to back-to-back threes from rookie Andrew Goudelock and a fast break dunk from Gasol off Blake’s steal and assist. Dallas, however, got a quick answer with back-to-back triples from Carter (already with 16 points to lead all scorers) and Terry in transition to cut the lead back to eight. The Terry three was tough for Matt Barnes to swallow, as he thought he got hit hard on a drive to the hoop before the Mavs ran out to Terry’s shot on the no call.

0:00 And then it all went bad for the Lakers, who conceded a 20-6 run to close the half, 10-1 in the final few minutes, to find themselves all tied at 48 at the break. Bryant typified their struggle, making only 1-of-6 shots in the half and finishing with four turnovers through aggressive Mavs traps.

12:00 In speaking with assistant coach Quin Snyder to prep for our KCAL/9 sideline hit out of halftime, we learned that L.A. was displeased about conceding 11 offensive boards in the first half, which really was the key in keeping Dallas in the mix (14-2 on second chance points). Snyder also wanted to limit the turnovers (eight) and re-post when the Mavs collapse on D, as Bynum/Gasol were a combined 11-for-17 for 25 points and the rest of the team just 8-for-24 for 23.

5:51 A tweet copy: If Kobe’s struggling (1-for-7), Fisher is not. His 3 has him at 4-for-6 for 9 points, keeping LAL up 4 at 63-59. As you can see, we go ahead and use numbers instead of spelling ‘em out to save characters. Trying to be as efficient as Fisher in the game.

0:00 As far as establishing a lead goes, the third quarter didn’t do much for either team, as a 24-all period tied us at 72 heading into the fourth quarter. L.A. continued to get hurt on the offensive glass, conceding 16 boards as the jump-shooting Mavs crashed for long rebounds, but continued to get scoring inside from Gasol and Bynum, who had a combined 35 points and 14 boards.

8:10 We’ve mentioned Gasol’s strong and efficient offensive night, 9-for-14 for 20 points plus four assists, but his D on Dirk (6-for-17) should also be mentioned. Bryant’s 1-of-2 FT’s off a Dirk miss made it 76-75 Dallas, who’d never led by more than two all night … until two Dirk FT’s moments later, on the fifth LAL team foul already in the quarter. L.A.’s players didn’t seem to agree with the decisions, Gasol complaining up and down the court as he felt he got hit inside on the previous play.

4:12 The biggest shot of the game thus far came from – hold your surprise – Derek Fisher. Just when it seems like maybe Steve Blake will play more crunch time minutes (as Mike Brown hinted at the other day), Fish comes back with a big, clutch game. Here, he nailed a tripe, then hit a tough running floater to put L.A. up 89-84.

1:00 Two critical alley-oop lobs from Kobe in crunch time, first to Gasol and then to Bynum, worked to perfection in getting the Lakers a seemingly comfortable seven-point cushion. Dallas overplayed Bryant, and he made the right decisions to find his big men at the rim. That said, some craziness in the final minute at the free throw line, folks, as the Lakers missed six consecutive free throws. Literally. First Barnes, then Kobe, then Gasol. Yet Barnes grabbed the second Gasol miss, and finally converted two to push the lead back to four points with 18 seconds left, and that proved enough of a margin. Big road win for the Lakers was the result, but no time to rest as the Thunder are waiting at home for a Thursday contest. We’ll see you there.