Below is a running diary of L.A.’s Friday evening contest against Denver, with some comments drawn from our @LakersReporter Twitter account, and a few more details in case you missed any of the action:
Lakers: Morris, Bryant, World Peace, Gasol and Howard
Nuggets: T. Lawson, A. Iguodala, D. Gallinari, K. Faried, K. Koufos
8:00 Four minutes into the game, Dwight Howard had already drawn three fouls on the Nuggets, hitting 2 of 5 free throws (one on an and-1) to get starter Kosta Koufos on the bench with two personals. Meanwhile, Metta World Peace and Darius Morris hit a triple each to put the Lakers up 16-14.
0:00 Howard was certainly the story of the first quarter, dominating towards 16 points and five boards, dunking seemingly once a minute, making 7 of 9 shots. Antawn Jamison also delivered a nice bench spark, scoring eight straight points – hitting back-to-back triples – in giving Gasol an early rest, pairing him with Howard. That fit nicely into D’Antoni’s system, and then allowed Gasol to play center starting the second quarter. The score: 34-27, LAL getting more points than the 33 they managed in the entire first half against Indiana.
8:22 Remember how well Jodie Meeks and Jamison played on the road at Dallas and Memphis? They combined for only three points against Indiana, Meeks getting only seven minutes as Kobe went nearly the whole game, but wow was tonight a different story. At the 6:53 mark, Meeks drained his fifth consecutive three-pointer, to put the Lakers up 55-41. He was pulling up from everywhere, hitting nothing but net, while his bench mate Jamison had 12 points himself with five rebounds. LAL’s record for threes made in a quarter by one player, by the way, was six.
0:00 Slowing Howard in the second quarter was a laceration to his left eyelid that forced him back to the locker room and out of the game for several minutes, but athletic trainer Gary Vitti took care of him in the back and got him back on the floor for the final minute. Meanwhile, Bryant picked things up on offense, climbing up to 12 points at the foul line and with a one-legged fadeaway just before the second quarter buzzer, allowing L.A. a 71-57 lead at the half. The bench total of 31 points was a major factor, Meeks and Jamison both going off to help L.A. shoot 60 percent.
2:49 What a difference a night makes from the three-point line. with Jamison and World Peace adding two more to L.A.’s total of 11 makes in 22 attempts, when they’d converted only 6 of 28 against Indiana. And Kobe Bryant sunk 5 of his 11, meaning his teammates were 1 of 17. But with Meeks going 5 of 6, Jamison 3 of 6 and MWP 2 of 6, the lead had grown to 90-73 after Duhon added a transition layup.
0:00 More Jamison and Meeks. This time, Meeks grabbed a loose ball with 00.9 seconds on the clock, and somehow got it to Jamison in time for a buzzer-beating layup that pushed L.A.’s lead to 97-82 after three quarters. Jamison was up to a game-high 23 points with eight boards.
9:48: Meeks kept it up, draining his sixth triple of the period, and we should also mention that Duhon had totaled six assists in his 22 minutes. D’Antoni continued to stagger the minutes of Gasol and Howard, playing Gasol with the second unit, and the Spaniard helped facilitate to the tune of six dimes, matching Duhon and trailing only Kobe’s eight.
4:35: A put-back dunk from Howard got the big man to 23 points and 17 rebounds in a night he looked very strong throughout; that slam stopped a 9-0 run from Denver’s bench as L.A. took its foot off the pedal just a bit, but the lead remained quite large at 115-101. And the threes wouldn’t stop, as even Howard got into the act, draining one in the corner with nine seconds to play just after grabbing his 20th board, for a big 28-point, 20-board double-double.
0:00 This tweet sums up the game, from my @LakersReporter account – The final: Lakers 122, Nuggets 103. Jamison had 33 and 12, Howard 28 and 20, Meeks 21 points on 7 3′s. Kobe/Pau 8 dimes each. L.A. shot 54 percent as a team, 51.5 percent from three (17 of 33) and outscored Denver 20-10 on fast break points. Quite an offensive show from the Lakers, even with Steve Nash in street clothes.
Before we let you go, some superlatives from L.A.’s offensive game that will likely make an appearance in the postgame numbers:
- The last time two guys came off the bench to score 20 for the Lakers was on 4/19/98, vs. Utah, when Nick Van Exel had 20 and Kobe 24. Jamison had 33, Meeks 21.
- The last time someone scored 30 off the bench was 2/11/98, when Shaquille O’Neal did so against Golden State.
- Howard’s 3-pointer with nine seconds left was the second of his career, and it tied the team’s franchise record of 17 for a regulation game. The last time that happend was 1/7/03, when Kobe hit 12. The team record is 19, but that came in OT against Washington on 12/17/06.
- Only nine Lakers had made eight or more triples, so Meeks tied the 10th time someone has had at least seven.
Up next is Orlando on Sunday. See you there.