LAL 91, NJN 87: April 3 Running Diary

Below is a running diary of L.A.’s Tuesday evening home contest against New Jersey, the Lakers looking for a third straight home win, with some comments drawn from our @LakersReporter Twitter account, and a few more details in case you missed any of the action:

Lakers: Sessions, Bryant, World Peace, McRoberts and Gasol
Nets: D. Williams, M. Brooks, G. Wallace, K. Humphries and J. Petro

9:00 With one All-Star out favoring an ankle injury in Andrew Bynum, it’s nice to have two others, Bryant and Gasol both making their first two shots to put L.A. up 8-3. Four-time All Star Gasol, of course, was not selected to the All-Star game this season as he deferred to Bynum for the benefit of the team, but you won’t find any NBA coaches or GM’s that don’t consider Gasol an All-Star based on skill and production.

5:39 An impressive offensive start continued as Sessions worked a fast break to perfection in dropping a dime for a Gasol dunk, the Spaniard’s fourth make in as many attempts, while Bryant was 3 for 3 and the team 9 of 11 overall. The dish was the fourth for Sessions, again looking really strong at point guard.

0:00 The only folks laughing harder than McRoberts after he somehow drained a turnaround, fadeaway, buzzer-beating 20 footer to make it 32-23 after the first were his teammates, who got a huge kick out of it from the bench. McRoberts added three boards, and seven of the eight Lakers who saw court time scored at least two points.

7:12 Despite former Los Angeles D-Fender Gerald Green, who was going off for 13 points on 5 of 6 field goals, the Lakers led 42-30 thanks to solid floor balance, six Lakers scoring at least two points, and Gasol outdoing even Green with 14 points on 7 of 10 shooting.

4:14 Bryant’s fadeaway over Wallace was his fourth field goal in six attempts, continuing an extremely efficient first half that had L.A. at 68.8 percent from the field to that point. Sparking L.A. on the bench was Matt Barnes, who grabbed a game-high seven boards, while some extra playing time from Sessions allowed Mike Brown to rest Kobe more than he has been, which Brown said is a goal leading into the playoffs.

0:00 The halftime lead was 58-45, a margin that grew to as many as 17 at one point, behind 65.8 percent shooting and a 24-12 dominance of the glass, even with Bynum in street clothes, with Gasol’s 18 points leading the way and Sessions excelling with 12 points and eight assists in his 18 minutes.

8:35 A strange start the the third included a technical foul on Gasol for pushing Kris Humphries (Pau responding either to some preening from Hump after a dunk or the general extra pushing he engaged in), and McRoberts inadvertently smacking Johan Petro in the face going for a loose ball. L.A.’s lead was at 14, however, after a Kobe leaner and Sessions driving layup.

0:00 With Wallace converting a nice driving lay up through traffic, the Nets actually won the third quarter, 21-20, L.A. making only 8 of 23 shots after converting 25 of 38 in the first half. Sessions did continue to excel, however, reaching 17 points with 10 assists and four boards in his 29 minutes, and Bryant finished with one point fewer than Gasol (20-19) before taking a seat on the pine.

6:22 Gasol got his double-double with board No. 10 being added to his 22 points on 11 of 18 field goals, though he’d yet to make a trip to the line despite some physical play down low from New Jersey. In a game the Lakers had clearly dominated, however, the Nets were somehow within only six points after a Williams crossover and jumper. This had been a problem all year, the Lakers pushing out to leads but failing to put teams away, keeping games generally closer than should be.

3:18 The lead stayed at six moments later into a Nets time out, the Lakers struggling to convert open shots that were all falling in the first half, and New Jersey getting jumpers to fall on the other end. Gasol had dominated the post in that first half, scoring each of his nine field goals in the paint, but had only four second half points while getting largely shoved out of the paint. He didn’t like the physical play, but couldn’t get a call.

0:56.0 Sure enough, we went to the wire again, the Lakers finding the game tied at 86 on a Williams’ three-pointer, though Bryant’s tough 22-foot fadeaway put the Lakers back up two. Wallace missed the first of two foul shots on the other end… but then came the Black Mamba.

0:06.8 Indeed, with 10.1 seconds left on the game clock, Bryant used a great Gasol screen to find freedom at the top of the floor, about 26 feet out, and he lofted a triple that would literally stay on the rim for three seconds before finally falling through. Back rim, front rim, in the air, back rim, front rim and through. The shot put the Lakers up 91-87, effectively ending the game, and came after a near turnover that left just over two seconds on the shot clock before the drawn up play freed Bryant for the dagger. This one was sure interesting, but nonetheless, L.A. had a third straight home win, improving to 34-20 on the season. Up next, the Clippers on Wednesday. See you there.