Monthly Archive for November, 2012

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Saturday Practice Report

Here’s a round up from Saturday’s Lakers practice in advance of the team’s game against Houston on Sunday evening at STAPLES Center.

Offensive Outburst:
In preparation for the Lakers fifth game on their six-game home stand, coach Mike D’Antoni spoke post practice about the team’s offensive performance against Phoenix. The team scored a season high 114 points, with five players in double figures, led by Kobe Bryant’s 31. In the previous game against San Antonio, the team mustered just 82 points, yet they had 92 through three quarters against the Suns.

“It was good,” D’Antoni said. “We’re more of in a halfway stage with a lot of the concepts we’re trying to get. Overall, we shot the ball well. There will be some bumps along the road, but overall pretty good.”

Most notably, Metta World Peace got off to a quick start, netting 11 points on 4 for 5 shooting (3 for 4 from the 3-point line) in the first quarter. He finished with 22 points and six boards.

“He had a great night,” D’Antoni noted. “Every game he should be good. I knew he was good but I think he’s better than I thought.”

Defense For D’Antoni:
The Lakers conceded 64 points in the paint to Phoenix, in addition to 21 fast break points, which D’Antoni attributed to a lack of energy from the team.

“I thought we were a little tired,” he said. “I didn’t think we were aggressive early. The second half was a lot better. It’s one of those deals where we just got to tighten up, get a little better, be a little more conscientious and put more energy into it.”

In the second half, though, the team allowed just 45 points, 18 of those in the fourth quarter, when the Suns shot just 7 for 20 (35 percent).

“I think we picked up the intensity,” D’Antoni said. “Darius (Morris) got into the ball and set the tone, and guys were more conscientious.”

Managing Minutes:
Kobe, Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol all played at least 35 minutes against the Suns, and on the year, all three are averaging at least that amount per contest.

D’Antoni typically has played shorter rotations, of seven or eight guys in Phoenix and New York, and the Lakers bench – outside of Jordan Hill – has been largely inconsistent. But the 11-year coach isn’t concerned about his second unit’s play.

“The bench will wake up, but we have to get our guys healthy,” D’Antoni said. “Again, it’d help if (Steve) Nash would get back and (Steve) Blake. (We’ll have to) kind of watch their minutes, but I think they’re OK right now.”

Steve Blake, who has sat out the last two games with an abdominal strain, is a “game-time decision,” according to D’Antoni. Starting point guard Steve Nash is out at least another week and Jordan Hill suffered a sprained wrist in the game against San Antonio.

Abdul-Jabbar Honored, Statue Unveiled

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: 6-time NBA champion; 6-time MVP award winner; 19-time All-Star; the NBA’s all-time leading scorer.

Former broadcaster Eddie Doucett, who long served as the radio play-by-play announcer for the Milwaukee Bucks, recalled when he coined Abdul-Jabbar’s shot.

“This guy created a masterpiece,” he said. “I was just there to give it a name.”

Now, that shot, his patented sky-hook, will forever be etched into bronze with the unveiling of his statue outside STAPLES Center on Friday afternoon.

“I can understand now what a man like Lou Gehrig means when he considers himself the luckiest man on the face of the earth,’’ Abdul-Jabbar said. “When you’re fortunate enough to be honored in this way, it’s a very humbling experience.”

A former No. 1 overall pick of the Milwaukee Bucks in 1969, Abdul-Jabbar won his first title along Oscar Robertson during his second campaign in the league. He was traded to the Lakers in 1975, winning the first of his titles with the team in 1979, the beginning of an era coined “Showtime,” and the start of a dynasty, when the purple and gold captured five of the next nine NBA championships.

Yet when reflecting on his storied career in the league during the unveiling of his statue, the 7-foot-2 center noted of something far more significant than his accomplishments on the hardwood.

“(My business manager) convinced me even though I was successful, I needed to turn that success into something else,” Abdul-Jabbar said. “And that was more than being just a great athlete.”

The New York native now serves as a cultural ambassador, has written several books on various historical subjects, appeared in documentary films and even started his own Skyhook Foundation – a program focused on “raising the academic aspirations of students by connecting them with mentors who are equipped to motivate and engage under-served youth to reach their potential.”

Those close to Abdul-Jabbar realized the impact he had and has as a person and as a model for today’s youth.

“I define a leader as somebody who stands up for justice and doesn’t block its path,” Richard Lapchick, a human rights activist, said, “and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has been doing that since he was a young man when I first met him.”

Former U.S. president Bill Clinton echoed similar sentiments in a congratulatory video.

“To those of us, certainly including me, who have had the privilege watching you both on and off the court, you have been a real symbol of strength and an exemplary model for our children,” he said.

Those in attendance included former teammates and Lakers including Magic Johnson, James Worthy and Jerry West, who all reflected on him as a teammate.

“You taught us how to be a man and be professional,” Johnson said of Abdul-Jabbar. “You didn’t have to say any words. We saw you and we wanted to be like you.”

“Kareem was the most selfless super player that I’ve ever seen in my life,’’ West added.

Lakers – Suns Postgame Numbers

We broke down some of the more intriguing numbers from LAL’s 114-102 victory over Phoenix:

Points totaled by the Lakers, right in Mike D’Antoni’s preferred range of 110-115 as promised at his opening press conference. “I told the team if we’re not averaging 115 points per game, then we need to talk,” D’Antoni said Thursday. “That’s our goal and it should be easily done.”

More points for Kobe Bryant, in such an impressive early-season rhythm, on 10 of 24 shooting. He’d been close to 50 percent on the evening before some late misses when the game was in control. Bryant now leads the NBA in scoring (26.9), having come into the contest averaging 26.4, the same as Houston’s James Harden, who scored 29 in a loss at Portland. “Kobe played great,” Suns coach Alvin Gentry noted. “If you can get 31 points on 24 shots, I still think you’ve done a good job. That’s how good of a player he is.”

Free throw attempts for the Lakers, nearly doubling up the 15 for Phoenix, with Kobe hitting 10 of 11 and Dwight Howard staying at his 50 percent clip on the season with 4 of 8 makes.

Personal fouls drawn by the Lakers, no surprise for the team that leads the NBA in fouls drawn (23.4 per game). They committed only 15. Bryant and Howard certainly help in that area.

Lakers turnovers, a number the coaching staff can be quite happy with, as they began the year routinely going over 20. The Suns did punish those TO’s with 19 points, but L.A. notched 26 points of its on off 15 Suns mishaps.

Assists for Michael Beasley, a career high for the wing known for his scoring. He added 14 points, with Phoenix paced by 22 from Goran Dragic, who also notched seven assists for a team that had 27 on 45 field goals. L.A. was right there percentage wise, tossing 25 dimes on 42 field goals.

Three-pointers drained by Metta World Peace towards a season-high 22 points, second only to Bryant’s 31. MWP added six boards, three assists and three steals in an impressive individual performance. “He’s just being aggressive,” Kobe said. “He’s taking his shots that are available to him, and he’s not thinking about it.”

Lakers 114, Suns 102: 11/16 Running Diary

Below is a running diary of L.A.’s Friday night contest against Phoenix, a night in which Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was honored with a statue outside of Staples Center, 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, Howard
Suns: G. Dragic, J. Dudley, M. Beasley, L. Scola, M. Gortat

7:44 A 9-0 Lakers run featured a bucket by each of the team’s starters, allowing a 12-6 early edge as the ball movement impressed to the tune of five assists. Darius Morris had one dime in his role of starting point guard with both Steve Nash (leg) and Steve Blake (abdomen), but it would be Kobe Bryant initiating much of the offense again. In his last three games with the Steve’s out, Bryant is averaging seven assists an evening.

0:00 If Mike D’Antoni wants this team to average around 110-115 points, they were well on that pace after one, scoring 35 points on 14 of 23 field goals, including 4 of 5 from three as the third World Peace triple sank home at the buzzer to make it 35-30. Gasol was red hot, hitting five straight 18-ish foot jumpers, even if the defense wasn’t strong (especially against screen/roll) on the other end.

4:05 The Lakers used a nice push, capped by Antawn Jamison’s wing triple, to open a 50-40 lead with eight minutes left in the third, but then took forever to score again, the Suns bursting to a 15-0 run to take a 55-50 lead. Finally stopping the bleeding (62 percent field goals from Phoenix) was Bryant, whose back-to-back hoops gave him 12 points and made it a 1-point game.

0:00 A half of ridiculous runs continued as L.A. reeled off 12 straight to counter the 15-point Phoenix push, enough to secure a 62-57 halftime edge. The D picked up to close the quarter, getting the Suns from 63 percent down to 54 percent, while six triples doubled up the three from the visitors. World Peace was terrific, with 15 points (three triples himself), four boards, three dimes and three steals.

5:00 Howard split 2 of 4 free throws on consecutive trips (his habit all early season, as he’s almost right at 50 percent from the stripe) … but the star of the game continued to be World Peace, who drained his fifth three-pointer to make it 80-75. He had 21 points to lead all scorers, Kobe next at 17.

2:00 Moments before Gortat’s put-back layup countered one from Jordan Hill to tie the score at 82, we learned that Steve Nash would miss at least one more week as he tries to recover from a non-displaced fracture in his left leg. Certainly not what Lakers fans wanted to hear, as the PG would miss a minimum of five games in a heavy week.

9:21 A good close to the third quarter, then a better start to the fourth had the Lakers’ lead up to 15 points at 101-86, the biggest margin of the night. Leading the way were Hill and Howard, the two bigs anchoring the paint on defense and hitting the offensive glass to combine for 26 points and 15 boards in their collective minutes. Bryant got hot late in the third before checking out with 25 points in 31 minutes.

6:30 With the starters back in, two Kobe free throws kept the lead safe at 103-90, at least for the time being. The bench group of Hill, Duhon, Meeks and Jamison was collectively strong especially on the glass (13 boards), with Hill adding 10 points and Meeks seven in only nine minutes.

0:00 Mike D’Antoni said he’s looking for around 110-115 points for this Lakers team, and he could have been pleased with 114 while watching from the locker room, the final tally for his new squad to best 102 from Phoenix. Kobe led the way with 31 and six assists, while MWP chipped in 22 and Gasol and Howard both had double-doubles. Up next: Houston on Sunday. We’ll see you there.

Nash Out Another Week

During L.A.’s Friday evening game against Steve Nash’s former team, we learned that Nash would miss at least another week while recovering from the non-displaced fracture in his left leg originally suffered on Halloween at Portland.

Nash will miss games against Houston and Brooklyn, and at Sacramento, Memphis and Dallas, before being re-evaluated once again by Dr. Steve Lombardo.

It’s the same update we received last week, and Nash admitted his frustration as he just can’t tough out an injury of that kind to get on the floor. Of course, the big picture concern for the Lakers is that Nash be fully healthy as the season goes on, so the team certainly can’t rush his return.

Kobe’s Postgame Session

We thought Kobe’s postgame comments were worth your time to read (or watch), so here’s a transcription of what he had to say after Tuesday’s narrow loss to San Antonio.

Bryant reflected on the recent improvements in the team particularly on defense, missing Steve Nash/Steve Blake and thus playing some point guard, what Mike D’Antoni has in common with Phil Jackson and a whole bunch more about Phil:

Q: On improvements he’s seen:
Kobe: We’re playing much, much better. We’re being much, much more aggressive on both ends of the floor. On defense, we’re doing a phenomenal job. We’re doing a good job of communicating during the game and during timeouts, pushing the guys where we need to push them, making guys take tough shots – shots that, percentage wise, they don’t normally hit. If they hit them, that’s just something you have to live with.

Q: On the last 30 seconds of the game, with the Spurs hitting a three and L.A. missing two.
Kobe: (Danny Green) hit a big, big shot. He shot 4 for 12 tonight, but he had the guts to take (it). It was a tough one; it was a contested shot and he knocked it down. We just came down on the other end of the floor and had a brain fart, and lost the game.

Q: On not having Steve Blake or Steve Nash:
Kobe: It makes a huge impact, but our guards have been playing pretty well. Darius (Morris) struggled a little bit tonight, but he’s been playing well. Chris Duhon is the consummate professional; he came in and played extremely well. Obviously you miss those guys. I miss Steve (Nash) because during games, you see me initiating the offense and making plays for others. With Steve in the game, I’m finishing plays, which is a little bit more dangerous.

Q: On when he remembers playing point guard last:
Kobe: Yeah, every year in the triangle offense. That’s what I did. I was pretty much the facilitator and I scored as well. Right now, it’s kind of my responsibility to do those things and get guys open shots, as well as score the ball. When Steve gets back, I’ll get back to finishing, which is what I do best.

Q: On finding some sort of relief when Nash gets back:
Kobe: I have more responsibilities, but when Steve gets back, he’ll be able to share, and I’ll be able to backside finish, so I’m looking forward to that.

Q: On how much he’s talked to Mike D’Antoni:
Kobe: Only one time, via text. He’s just excited to get this going, and put together the blueprint to be successful.

Q: On Bernie Bickerstaff:
Kobe: Bernie has been great – real chill and real laid back. He’s not showing any signs of facing the pressure. He just lets us do what we do.

Q: On what he’s noticed in his teammates the last four or five days:
Kobe: Guys are being more aggressive and being more assertive, and trying to find their way. Metta, l love his aggressiveness. He hasn’t shot the ball particularly well, but we need him to be aggressive and get his rhythm offensively and those shots will fall for him.

Q: On what he learned about the team’s character the last four or five days:
Kobe: We did a pretty good job of focusing what we’re doing individually. I think we showed a lot of character despite the distractions. We were able to kind of zero in on what we had to do, came out and played extremely well.

Q: On how the team has had to adjust defensively in wake of what has gone on:
Kobe: Defense is a lot like offense in the sense you want to be unpredictable and you want to be able to communicate well with each other. When you have one way of doing it, then you become very predictable. For us, we’ll continue to do what we do – just communicate well, play personnel, play percentages and make them take tough shots.

Q: On why more of Phil Jackson’s assistant coaches don’t have jobs around the league:
Kobe: It seems like all our assistant coaches when they left here, to even mention the word ‘Triangle’ was like taboo. I don’t understand it. I really don’t know the answer to that question. It’s very strange, very bizarre. You would think that organizations and other coaches should try to learn from Phil. That’s what you should try to do, right? If you have a coach that’s won more than anybody in our profession, you would think you’d want to study them and analyze them, and figure out why that’s the case, but they haven’t done it.

Q: On Phil adapting to his players:
Kobe: It’s his theory. It’s his philosophies and things that he lives by. It’s that whole Zen Master thing. He really believes in letting things unfold, letting players develop, letting teams grow into their identity, for guys to communicate with each other and be able to adapt to each other; removing themselves from the equation which is part of the mastery of what he’s done here. If you talk to Michael (Jordan) or myself, we’ll be singing his praises to the heavens. Michael didn’t want to play for any other coach. That’s just how it is.

Q: On what D’Antoni has in common with Jackson:
Kobe: Mike (D’Antoni) has some of the same characteristics in terms of not micromanaging – kind of setting guys up and putting guys in position to be successful. He was probably one altercation away in San Antonio from getting to the Finals.

Q: On what he’s held onto from Phil’s coaching:
Kobe: Everything, everything. I’m basically baby Zen Master.

Q: On if he’s thought about how his career would have turned out if he didn’t have Phil:
Kobe: I don’t know. I probably wouldn’t have learned the game to the depths the way I know now. But I think the thing about Phil (Jackson), (Gregg Popovich) and great coaches is the role player’s play very well. Guys like myself, Shaq (O’Neal), MJ and (Scottie) Pippen, our numbers will always be excellent no matter who you put us with. That’s just what we do. But them instilling confidence in the rest of the team, putting them in position to be successful, allowing them to play the fourth quarter when they blow a lead and let them develop, that’s what makes them great coaches.

Q: On maximizing his star players, too:
Kobe: He’s gotten the most out of their role players. When they play well and they have confidence, me, MJ and Shaq become more dangerous because those guys are playing with more confidence and those guys are making shots. You put us with anybody, our numbers are the same no matter what. But to win championships, those guys have to feel comfortable with their role.

Q: On whether he would have won five titles without Phil:
Kobe: Probably not. If you’re talking about winning championships, that’s what a great coach does – install confidence in the rest of the guys. Make sure they’re comfortable in their roles and that’s how you win championships. If you’re talking about from an individual standpoint, like I say, no matter who’s coaching I’m still going to do what I do, but it’s not going to equate to winning championships. If you’re talking about from an individual standpoint, I’m going to do what I do, but it’s probably not going to equate to championships.

Q: On what he learned from Tex Winter:
Kobe: I used to sit with Tex pretty much every game for two to three hours and watch the entire game and break down film with him. He was like Yoda.

Q: On what he remembers from D’Antoni’s teams defensively:
Kobe: They did a good job when they had (Shawn) Marion and Raja (Bell). They covered up for a lot, a lot of errors. They covered the ground and were physical. That’s what their biggest strength was – those two guys. Here on this team, you got several of them – myself, Metta (World Peace) and obviously Dwight (Howard), so it should be fun.

Lakers – Spurs Postgame Numbers

We broke down some of the more intriguing numbers from LAL’s narrow 84-82 loss against San Antonio, which dropped their record to 3-5:

Shooting percentage for Kobe Bryant through eight games this year, after finishing 12-of-19 for 28 points. Prior to the contest, the Lakers co-captain was one of two guards in the league ranked in the top 20 in field goal percentage (Gary Neal, 55.2%).

Spurs field goal percentage, the third straight game the Lakers held their opponent to 40 percent or under. The Spurs had been at 48.8 as a team, and their three best players collectively struggled from the field (Duncan: 9 for 19, Parker: 8 for 18, Ginobili: 1 for 8). Kobe Bryant was pleased with the defense: “We’re playing much, much better … we’re being much more aggressive on both ends of the floor. On defense, we’re doing a phenomenal job. We’re doing a good job communicating during the game, pushing guys and making them take tough shots.” The effort would have felt even better in a victory.

Assists for Bryant in the past three games since Mike Brown’s firing, Bryant taking on much of the playmaking responsibility with Steve Nash remaining in street clothes and Steve Blake out with a strained abdomin. Bryant essentially played point guard for most of the fourth quarter, alongside a huge lint up of Metta World Peace, Antawn Jamison, Pau Gasol and Dwight. Bryant is used to facilitating from the perimeter since the triangle offense was a two-guard system, but he’ll certainly do much less and focus on scoring once Nash returns.

Lakers turnovers, resulting in 12 Spurs points, and helping the visitors outscore L.A. 13-6 in transition.

Seasons of at least 300 assists for Tony Parker, one short of the 12 for Steve Nash and two shy of Andre Miller’s 13. They’re the NBA’s only three players to achieve that feat.

Blocked shots for the Lakers, led by Dwight Howard’s five, tying a season-high. It was also the number of shot attempts Dwight had in 41 minutes of play. Howard wasn’t worried about it. “All that stuff will come,” he explained. “It will come with time. I just to keep going to the boards hard, keep playing hard and keep playing through every situation on the court. My touches and everything else will come.”

Free throw misses in a game the Lakers lost by two, including Howard’s 3 of 6 and a 1 for 4 struggle from Darius Morris, who struggled in his 20 minutes on offense but was active on D.

Second chance points for the Spurs in the fourth quarter, which really killed the Lakers. Three times, they forced a tough shot with a big line up (Bryant the “smallest” player on the floor), but failed to clear the rebound, the most fatal blow when Tony Parker followed his own 17-foot jumper miss with a put-back layup. Bernie Bickerstaff noted the critical impact.

Three-pointers from San Antonio’s Danny Green, the last one being the game winner. On the year, the North Carolina product is hitting 45.5 percent from deep. “(He) hit a big, big shot, but he had the guts to take (it),” Kobe said. “It was a tough one; it was a contested shot and he knocked it down.”

Corner three-pointers that the Lakers couldn’t drop in the final minute, with Metta World Peace rimming out on a completely wide open shot, and Pau Gasol missing in the final seconds with Tim Duncan near by. Gasol still got a good look, but probably shouldn’t have had the ball in that position. The Lakers appeared to be trying to get the ball to Bryant, defended tightly by Kahwi Leanard, but MWP passed it to Gasol, trapped in the corner with Duncan’s arms waving. The Spaniard was unable to get Kobe the ball.

Lakers 82, Spurs 84: Nov. 13 Running Diary

Below is a running diary of L.A.’s Tuesday evening contest against San Antonio, 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, Howard
Spurs: T. Parker, D. Green, K. Leonard, T. Duncan, T. Splitter

8:22 After the Lakers endured a 10-0 run from the Spurs, five straight points from Metta World Peace (a three, then two free throws), then a Gasol jumper and Howard alley-oop dunk had the Lakers suddenly up 12-10. With Steve Nash [leg] and Steve Blake [strained abdominal] out injured, Darius Morris had a tough assignment with the dynamic Tony Parker, but added 1 of 2 free throws to cap a 10-0 run of their own.

0:00 To take a 24-18 lead out of the first quarter was an impressive feat for the Lakers considering they fell behind 10-2 after just two-and-a-half minutes, and it might have been an eight or 10 point lead had Jordan Hill not missed two layups, the second at the buzzer after Gasol found him in transition. Both teams had four turnovers in the period, L.A. shooting 45 percent to SAS’s 36.4 percent. Bryant had 9 points to lead all scorers.

6:06 SAS outscored LAL 9-4 to start the 2nd, until Chris Duhon drained a wide-open 3 (he hit 42% from deep last year) to put LAL up 31-29. Duhon also hit a wing jumper, his five points off the pine helping what was an otherwise poor start to the second on O (5 turnovers in six minutes).

0:00 Bryant was terrific in the half, not only leading the way with 15 points on 7 of 10 field goals, but also totaling five assists while essentially running the show for L.A. Bernie Bickerstaff said his essential plan as interim coach was to “get out of the way” and let Kobe make plays, and that’s what he did. In the past two wins, Bryant totaled 13 assists, and was on his way to double digits in this one. The final two buckets of the half both came on Lakers offensive boards, Howard and Hill cleaning up misses to make it a 43-38 margin at the break.

4:27 A quick 7-0 Spurs run amidst Lakers turnovers (Howard had his fifth) was cut by Bryant’s 10th make in 15 attempts, but San Antonio kept a 52-51 lead. Howard may have been struggling on O, but he was impressive on D, blocking three shots and altering several more (Duncan 5 of 12).

0:00 A quarter of runs continued as L.A. used a 7-0 spurt to go up five, only to endure a 7-1 Spurs burst to close the quarter, allowing San Antonio a 60-59 lead heading into the final quarter. L.A.’s offense had struggled without Bryant on the floor, and would need some production from the perimeter as he rested to open the fourth. The duo of Meeks and Duhon had struggled to produce good shots in their 23 combined minutes to that point.

6:00 Kobe continued his dominant night by climbing up to 28 points on an uber-efficient 12 of 18 FG’s, improving his season FG percentage to 56 percent (he shot 43 percent last season). His efforts had the game tied at 71, and L.A. reclaimed the lead when Hill got a baby hook to drop before being replaced by Gasol for the final 4:52. Hill had eight points and six boards in his 18 minutes. And by the way, Bryant was also playing point guard, MWP at the two and Antawn Jamison at the three.

1:47 Some big shot making for both teams as Parker followed his own missed jumper with an improbable put back, was countered by Jamison’s corner three, only to see Duncan hit a jumper of his own to make it 79-78 San Antonio.

0:00 Things looked promising for the Lakers as Gasol hit two free throws and then an elbow jumper to put his team up 82-79 with 1:03 to play. However, Duncan countered with a short hook, MWP missed a wide open corner three and the Spurs ran a play out of a time out to get Danny Green a three … swish. That put the Spurs up two with 10 seconds to play, and the Lakers tried to run a two-man game play with Gasol and Kobe. When San Antonio flooded to Bryant, Gasol took a three from the corner that came off, Howard and MWP unable to wrestle the loose ball away from Tiago Splitter as the clocked ticked 0.0.

Certainly a tough loss for the Lakers, who had built some momentum at home, though despite missing a bevy of open looks, did play with good energy. They’ll have two days off now as new head coach Mike D’Antoni gets to town in advance of Friday’s game against Phoenix. We’ll see you there.

Lakers – Kings Postgame Numbers

We broke down some of the more intriguing numbers from LAL’s 103-90 victory over Sacramento, improving the season record to 3-4:

Shooting percentage for the Kings, a number that was below 40 for most of the second half until two made buckets in garbage time. It was the second straight game the Lakers held their opponent to 40 percent or under. This was not a strange place to be for the Kings, however, as they’d shot 40.1 percent coming into the contest. “(It was) activity, awareness, supporting each other and boxing out,” Pau Gasol noted, when asked about the team’s defensive performance. “We gave up too many second chance opportunities in the first half, but we did a much better job in the second half.”

Kings points off 18 Lakers turnovers, a number interim coach Bernie Bickerstaff wasn’t pleased with. Turnovers have plagued L.A. early in the season, but they are less bothersome in wins, naturally. Jordan Hill had four turnovers in 19 minutes, while each starter but Metta World Peace (zero) had two.

Offensive rebounds for the Lakers, out of a team total 50 (+11 to Sacramento’s 39). Dwight Howard had six of his 18 total boards on the offensive end, while the ever-active Jordan Hill grabbed five of his seven on offense. In fairness, the Kings were without leading rebounder DeMarcus Cousins as well as Thomas Robinson, both due to suspensions. “I didn’t take myself out of plays in the game tonight as I had been in the past,” Howard explained, when asked about his performance rebounding. “I just got to continue to get in shape; that’s the biggest thing.”

Three-pointers drained by Metta World Peace in eight attempts, towards 18 points (matching Pau Gasol). He started Friday night’s win 0 for 10, but has shot the ball much better since, hitting three of his last four in that game and making 6 of 11 on Sunday.

Points per game Kobe trails New York’s Carmelo Anthony for the league lead. He finished with 20 points, six boards and six assists. After the game, Bickerstaff praised Bryant’s floor game, saying his decisions with the ball helped get teammates plenty of open shots.

Lakers 103, Kings 89: Nov. 11 Running Diary

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.