Below is a running diary of L.A.’s Tuesday evening contest against the Brooklyn Nets, 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
Nets: D. Williams, J. Johnson, G. Wallace, K. Humphries, B. Lopez
8:15 L.A. couldn’t have started Mike D’Antoni’s first game on the sideline any better, as aggressive defense from positions 1-5 helped spark a 10-0 run capped by a corner three from Metta World Peace. It was fitting, as MWP collected two steals to spark the D. However, out of a Nets time out, L.A. turned the ball over on consecutive trips to help spark an 8-0 run from the visitors.
0:00 Kobe Bryant really wanted to deliver a victory in his the first game for his new coach on the sideline, not just being aggressive on offense (hitting his first five shots) but by staying on his teammates. When Pau Gasol didn’t roll to the hoop out of a pick and roll to Bryant’s liking, Kobe lit him up, the Spaniard nodding and going over to pat Bryant on the butt. The lead after one was 29-23, L.A. shooting 60 percent from the field, holding Brooklyn to 45 percent, though four turnovers helped the Nets stay close.
11:00 Back-to-back 3′s from the top of the key from CJ Watson allowed the Nets to tie it at 29 a minute into the 2nd. Brooklyn continued to control the play for the opening half of the second, until the second MWP tied the score at 42 when the starters returned. His 11 points at that point matched Bryant’s, while Howard’s dunk on the next trip down gave him eight.
0:00 The third World Peace three of the half allowed L.A. to go into halftime trailing by only a point, MWP’s 14 points trailing only Howard’s 15, highlighted by three dunks after he up-faked Nets defenders. Brooklyn managed to break the first quarter rhythm the Lakers developed in part due to frequent trips to the line, 16 attempts besting L.A. by five, and this a Lakers’ team that leads the NBA in free throw attempts at nearly 30 per evening.
2:28 L.A. retook the lead on a few occasions, as with Antawn Jamison’s layup off a nice drive and dish from Chris Duhon, but the Nets were just stingy enough in screen/roll coverage and hitting just enough shots on the other end to keep things tight. Jerry Stackhouse, still in the NBA, drained a jumper on the other end as an answer to his fellow Tar Heel’s hoop for the ninth lead change of the night.
0:00 Back-to-back buckets from Lakers mainstays Bryant and Gasol allowed a 76-73 lead heading into the fourth quarter, a strong defensive finish to the third keeping Brooklyn in check. Howard was huge inside, totaling 18 points and 13 boards with three swats, while Gasol and Bryant had five assists apiece.
5:15 A Kris Humphries free throw followed a Deron Williams jumper (Howard called for an off-ball push), their biggest lead of the game at 84-78. L.A. continued to kill itself at the line, hitting only around 30 percent as a team until some late Bryant makes pushed the percentage to 51.4 percent (19 of 37). Howard made only 7 of 19, accounting for the lion’s share, but did at least make 2 of 4 down the stretch when the Nets played Hack-a-Howard. That also helped the Lakers get in the bonus, of which they took advantage when Brook Lopez went over Gasol’s back at the 2:37 mark. Gasol hit 1 of 2, capping a 9-2 run that gave L.A. an 87-86 lead.
0:00 L.A. came up with the key defensive stops down the stretch to hold onto a 95-90 win, the Nets scoring only 17 points in the fourth, just six of those since the Humphries free throw in the final 5:15. And Bryant hit all six of his free throws in the final minute to seal the deal. Howard’s 23-point, 15-board, 4-block performance came despite those 12 misses at the line; Bryant totaled 25 points and five assists; Gasol’s seven dimes led the way, and he added a 17-point, 11-board double-double, while World Peace totaled 17 points and eight boards, with four of the team’s six triples.
The Lakers have little time to rest, as they fly to Sacramento tonight for the second home-road back to back of the season. We’ll see you there.