Below is a running diary of L.A.’s Friday evening home contest against Sacramento, the Lakers looking for an eighth win in 12 games, 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
Kings: I. Thomas, T. Evans, M. Thornton, J. Thompson, D. Cousins
8:29 Remember how excellent L.A.’s energy was to start the game against Minnesota, pushed on by Kobe’s playing hurt? Well, that wasn’t so much the case against Sacramento, as the Masked Mamba’s pull-up J off glass out of a Mike Brown time out still had L.A. down 10-7 thanks to the 6-0 run drawing Mike Brown’s ire.
4:47 The next four minutes were much better, with Bryant enjoying his mask yet again to score nine of L.A.’s first 11 points, and Bynum (very) impressively throwing down a reverse alley-oop off a lofted pass from Gasol (three assists). Talk about great pairs of hands for two seven footers.
0:00 Before the game in his regular media session, Brown pointed out that L.A. ranks 10th in the NBA in field goal percentage, far more important to him than total points scored, which is dependent upon pace (and L.A. likes to slow it down to utilize its size). The first quarter showcased as much, L.A. hitting 57 percent of its shots to take a 31-26 lead. Kobe had 13, taking advantage of his matchup against 6-4 Marcus Thornton, who for some reason was asked to guard Bryant 1-on-1.
10:45 Andrew Goudelock had a rare poor shooting night against Minnesota, making only 1-of-8 field goals and feeling quite badly about not helping his team after the game. Well, he bounced back nicely here, connecting on his first three shots, including a three and a tough runner, for seven quick points to put L.A. up 39-30.
6:21 Boosted by energy from Matt Barnes (seven points, two boards), L.A. held a 45-38 edge when Bryant and Gasol returned halfway through the period. In their past five home games, the Lakers had outscored opponents by an average of 16.6 points, and this was looking like another blow out despite Sacramento hanging around (48 percent FG’s).
0:00 Andrew Bynum’s making his free throws, folks. In his last five games, he’s now 20-for-23 after making 3-of-4 in this one, also known as 87 percent, bringing his low 50′s percentage from a week or two ago to 62.5 percent. His converting at that rate gives L.A. a boost not to be underestimated. And oh, in this game, Kobe was getting to the line quite a bit himself, converting 8-of-9 to put L.A. up 10 points. Francisco Garcia, however, did hit a three just before the buzzer to get the Kings within seven points at 65-58.
8:13 First, a question: nobody says “Ball does lie” when technical free throws go down after bad calls for undeserved points, right? The Kings got a free one when Fisher was hit with a technical for arguing after he was called for a PF when appearing to be the one that got elbowed. Alas, Gasol and Bynum connected on back-to-back hoops to put L.A. up 75-63.
4:35 Some pretty extra passing from L.A. got World Peace a layup, courtesy first of Bynum, then Fisher (six assists), and produced an 81-68 lead for the home team. Meanwhile, Bynum continued to move extremely well on the knee for which he received treatment on the Friday of All-Star weekend, troubling DeMarcus Cousins to 5-of-16 FG’s with his length and quick jumps (three blocks).
0:00 You know how Kobe likes challenges? Well, with a second straight 31-point game with his broken nose protected by a mask, he reminded us why. He was 11-for-18 from the field, plus seven boards and three dimes, to help L.A. blow the game open at 92-74. Bynum and Gasol added 15 points apiece, and 18 total boards.
8:53 Not exactly what Mike Brown was hoping to see out of his bench to start the fourth, as Sacramento reeled off a 9-0 run that saw Gasol check back in after a time out. The lead was still 11, but Brown wanted to stop the bleeding immediately.
5:00 All of a sudden and quick like, Sacramento’s five bench players had somehow cut L.A.’s lead down to just five, capped by back-to-back three-pointers that forced another L.A. time out. World Peace, however, hit a big momentum shot from the corner, his second three of the game, to change the tide.
2:40 Moments later it was Kobe with a three of his own, this one the dagger, and end-of-shot clock pull-up that re-opened a double-digit lead at 108-97. Bryant would finish with 37, a game high by a lot (Garcia led Sacramento with 18). Your final score was 115-107, for L.A.’s seventh straight home win, improving the team to 22-14 overall. By the way: that’s 69 total points for Kobe in two games wearing the mask.