Below is a running diary of L.A.’s Sunday evening contest against Sacramento with some comments drawn from our @LakersReporter Twitter account, and a few more details in case you missed any of the action:
Lakers: Nash, Bryant, World Peace, Gasol and Howard
Kings: I. Thomas, T. Evans, J. Johnson, J. Thompson*, C. Hayes*
*DeMarcus Cousins was hit with a 2-game suspension for confronting Spurs announcer Sean Elliot after SAS beat SAC on Friday, while Thomas Robinson would serving the second of his own 2-game suspension, leaving the Kings very thin in the frontcourt.
5:19 Quick state of the Lakers: the team acknowledged meeting with Phil Jackson on Saturday about the head coaching vacancy, and planned to meet with him again “in a couple days”. In the meantime, Bernie Bickerstaff continued interim duties after leading the Lakers to a blowout win on Friday.
Now out on the floor against the Kings: Dwight Howard has passed the ball well to start his career, his 2nd dime on a nice skip pass getting Metta World Peace a corner three and the Lakers an early 12-11 lead.
0:00 A strong finish to the first, thanks to consecutive put-back buckets from sub Jordan Hill, produced a 29-22 Lakers lead. Injury note: Steve Blake left the game for a moment with an abdominal strain, but after being stretched in the locker room by head physical therapist Dr. Judy Seto, he came back to the bench and was likely to return.
5:37 Sacramento went on a nice lil’ run with L.A.’s bench struggling on O, enough to take a 39-37 lead after Chuck Hayes converted a pick and roll floater. Howard was in with a group including Darius Morris, Jodie Meeks, Antawn Jamison and Jordan Hill, which flowed less well than when Gasol started with that unit against Golden State on Friday.
1:00 But after a sluggish start and middle of the quarter, the starters began to hum in the final minutes of the third, capping an 18-7 run with a post up from Bryant around Jimmer Fredette. That had him up to 15 points, and the Lakers up 55-46, their biggest lead of the evening to that point. Howard had 14 points and 10 rebounds, Bryant 15 points and Jordan Hill four boards towards six points off the pine. The lead was 57-48 at the break.
2:31 With a one-handed dunk from Morris, the lead grew to 76-61, the skills of Gasol helping to break it open. He scored eight of his 16 in the quarter with a variety of post moves and jumpers, and added five boards with two dimes alongside two blocks.
0:00 The margin was 13 to close the quarter, L.A. controlling the glass 37-18 (14 offensive boards) and taking twice as many free throws as the Kings. Bryant was up to 20 points, and Howard three blocks with his 16 points and 12 boards. Sacramento was still scrapping, but were just out manned particularly inside.
5:18 Howard continued to control the paint before the rest of the starters (save Chris Duhon, in for Blake as he sat with a strained abdomen) checked back in, Bickerstaff not pleased with a momentary defensive lapse. Immediately, MWP nailed back-to-back threes (his third and fourth) to push it to 95-73 for the home team.
0:00 The final: Lakers 103, Kings 89. Sacramento scored six junk points in the final 34 seconds to trim the final count, a lead that had been as big as 23. Howard’s 23-point, 18-rebound double-double led the way, while Bryant added 20 points, six dimes and six boards and Gasol 18 points with five boards and four assists. It was a strong, if expected, victory for the Lakers over a Kings team missing their starting center. Up next, a stiffer test against San Antonio on Tuesday. We’ll see you there.