Below is a running diary of L.A.’s Wednesday night contest at New Orleans, with some comments drawn from our @LakersReporter Twitter account, and a few more details in case you missed any of the action:
Lakers: Duhon, Bryant, World Peace, Jamison and Howard
Hornets: G. Vasquez, R. Mason, A. Aminu, R. Anderson, R. Lopez
6:15 After Dwight Howard opened the game strong offensively, with five of the game’s first seven points, the Hornets pushed an early 12-7 lead by hitting a trio of perimeter jumpers. Howard was back it moments later, however, essentially forcing Robin Lopez out of his way before throwing down a hammer dunk.
1:03 Kobe Bryant and Howard appeared to get into it a bit into a time out with L.A. trailing 23-16, Howard perhaps displeased with lack of defensive rotations that have plagued the Lakers early in the season. Out of the time out, Bryant drew a foul to get two free throws, giving him six points, just seven away from 30,000 in his career. Much more on that on Lakers.com, folks. Bryant added a breakaway hammer dunk to cut the Hornets lead to three after one.
6:00 Lacking Howard, Bryant, or the injured Pau Gasol and Steve Nash, L.A.’s second unit turned to Metta World Peace and Antawn Jamison, who hit back-to-back triples to cut the Hornets’ lead to one. Bryant and Howard checked in moments later, the deficit back to four after a Lance Thomas and-1. The Lakers weren’t playing with much confidence on O, but a driving one-handed dunk from Bryant may have been a swagger boost … just three away from 30K after that one.
1:16 Kobe Bryant has scored 30,000 points in the NBA. The basket that got him there came on a drive, as he laid it home with his right hand over Robin Lopez. What an amazing accomplishment, one that only four other players in the history of the NBA have matched (four of the five wore Lakers purple and gold at one point). Meanwhile, N.O. led by as many as eight points, but late free throws from Bryant got him to 17 points (30,004) and the Lakers within one at the break.
6:52 The first Hornets bucket of the half came five minutes in. Related: L.A. went on a 13-0 run.
3:00 L.A. was terrific out of the halftime gate, and Howard was at the center of everything. His fifth block had the Hornets managing only 3 of 13 field goals in the period, and he even hit both free throws the first time Monty Williams became the third straight coach to intentionally foul him. With 18 and 8, he had the Lakers up 72-62 late in the period before getting a rest. Also key: with Howard contesting seemingly every shot, his teammates have to make sure to focus and recover to his man, which has been a problem early in the season. But they seemed to figure it out to a degree at least in the third, and N.O. was not only missing its initial shots with Howard in their face, but not getting the second chance opportunities they’d created with 10 offensive boards in the first half. Editor’s note: They’d finish with only two offensive boards in the second half.
0:00 A corner three from Darius Morris, who’d been struggling of late on offense despite strong play on D, allowed L.A. a 77-64 lead heading into the fourth. They outpaced New Orleans 30-16 in the quarter, and were helped by four assists from Bryant, who had none at the half.
8:59 Morris kept it up, draining another triple on a pull-up in transition to suddenly push the lead to 19 points early in the fourth. Meeks added his 3rd triple of the evening, and the Lakers were in complete control.
4:26 The bench played well enough to allow Bryant and Howard to rest for most of the fourth, though D’Antoni did put them back in briefly just to secure the decision. Bryant promptly hit two straight shots, including a three, with fresh legs to finish with 29 points on the evening he hit 30,000. Adding a milestone of his own was World Peace, who with a late three became just the sixth player in NBA history to reach 12,000+ points, 4,000+ rebounds, 1,500 steals and 1,000 three-pointers (Reggie Miller, Kobe, Gary Payton, Jason Kidd and Paul Pierce).
0:00 The final score of 103-87 was punctuated by a 56-39 margin in the second half, one dominated by Howard on D and good ball movement and three-point shooting on O. L.A. rebounded from a tough loss at Houston, in a game they led nearly throughout, to get their second road win of the season and improve to 9-10 in advance of a tough Friday night game at Oklahoma City. We’ll see you there.