Below is a running diary of L.A.’s Wednesday evening road contest against the Clippers, the Lakers looking to win a fourth straight game and third straight on the road, 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, Gasol and Bynum
Clippers: C. Paul, R. Foye, C. Butler, B. Griffin, D. Jordan
12:00 Let’s first take a look at what’s on the line today: the Lakers come in with a 1.5 game lead over the Clippers in the Pacific Division, and since the L.A. squads split their first two, the winner will hold a tiebreaker that would only come into play if they have the same record at the end of the season. For more on that, click here. And … here we go.
8:30 A wide open three from Sessions gave L.A. a 10-4 early lead, with the first seven points coming from Bynum, playing through an ankle injury, converting three field goals and an and-1 free throw. Three minutes later, Griffin’s dunk off a screen roll from Paul tied the game at 14, but Bryant answered with an and-1 at the rim off a pretty pass from Sessions, his third assist.
0:00 Kobe got hot to close the first, nailing four straight shots to reach 16 points on 7 of 10 overall, and Bynum’s 11 helped push LAL’s total to 34, good for a five point margin over LAC’s 29. Neither team turned the ball over, and while Chris Paul had seven dimes mostly out of pick and roll sets, Kobe’s scoring was the early difference.
10:35 A great start to the second was capped by a Steve Blake three, capping a 7-0 burst that included layups from Barnes and Sessions, starting with the second unit to give L.A. better options offensively. The run was stopped with a Nick Young jumper, though Gasol countered with one of his own to make it 43-31.
4:26 The lead was eight when Bynum’s first field goal since returning went down, Kobe also getting a solid six minutes of rest as the second unit played well. Blake had five points, Barnes and McRoberts a bucket each plus eight total boards from the latter two Lakers.
1:38 Kobe started the game 0 for 3 … but after a long two that kept the Lakers up seven, he was 8 for 11, of course meaning he’d made eight straight shots. Not bad. Meanwhile, a World Peace wing three was LAL’s fourth from long distance, but the Clippers connected on their fourth moments later, Butler sinking his third.
6:40 Bynum’s 15-foot jumper stopped a 6-0 LAC run that started with a huge Griffin dunk over Gasol, plus a foul, though LAL were upset as Griffin clearly led with his front arm, clearing Gasol out with contact to the Spaniard’s head. Nonetheless, with Bynum up to 19 points, the road team was up 75-67.
3:30 A rather dramatic third quarter continued as Griffin pushed Gasol in the back when Pau had a clean lane for a dunk thanks to a back pass from Bynum, causing Bynum to go over and get in Griffin’s face. Then a double foul on Gasol/Griffin followed Bryant’s deep 3, which preceded a defensive three seconds tech from Kobe, and 1 of 2 Bynum free throws that capped a 8-0 run to push LAL to its biggest lead at 86-73.
1:00 The Lakers again pushed the lead to 15 when Bynum converted his 6th and 7th free throws in eight attempts to add to 10 field goals and match Kobe’s 27 points, then answered a CP3 three with a 15-foot jumper that made it 92-78. Fantastic effort from Bynum, playing with the sprained ankle, showing his teammates something.
9:00 The Clips rode the momentum gained by last second(s) three from Foye (2 seconds on the clock) to close the fourth, when Sessions didn’t see Jordan sprint up the court since he’d fallen into the seats, continuing a run that reached 14-2, cutting L.A.’s once 15-point lead to just three on a corner three from Nick Young. How many times have we seen the Lakers build a double-digit lead this season, only to find themselves in a dog fight.
6:00 Bynum continued a dominant offensive night with another bucket over Jordan, his 13th in 20 attempts, to get to 35 points, though the Clippers were now scoring too, with Paul’s driving pull-up tying the game at 102.
0:00 Of several huge plays down the stretch for the Lakers, the biggest was … you guessed it … a Kobe Bryant dagger jumper from the left corner, from 22 feet, a foot on the three-point line. That erased a Paul layup, putting the Lakers up 110-106 with 24 seconds left on the clock. L.A. would get free throws from Gasol and Barnes to preserve the lead, the final score reaching 113-108 in a win that earned the Purple and Gold the tiebreaker should the teams finish with the same record, though the Lakers were now 2.5 games clear of the Clips. After the game, Bryant told us on KCAL 9 that he was very impressed with Bynum playing through his ankle injury, it being extremely important for the team from a DNA standpoint to have guys push through things as Bryant has throughout his career.