Lakers 99, Sixers 103: Jan. 1 Running Diary

Below is a running diary of L.A.’s Tuesday night home contest against Philadelphia, with some comments drawn from our @LakersReporter Twitter account, and a few more details in case you missed any of the action:

Starters
Lakers: Nash, Morris, Bryant, Gasol and Howard
Sixers: J. Holiday, J. Richardson, E. Turner, T. Young, L. Allen

FIRST QUARTER
7:30 The Lakers have been the highest scoring team in the NBA in first quarters with 27.3 points per game, while Philly is 26th at just 22.6. But with the Sixers hitting their first five shots and 7 of 9, the visitors had a 16-5 lead into the first time out, L.A. looking like a team that hadn’t played since last Friday. In came subs Jordan Hill (Pau Gasol) and Metta World Peace (Darius Morris), and Hill immediately put back Howard’s miss (his specialty).

1:35 About Hill … six minutes later, and he already had eight points and six rebounds, making all four of his shots, to get the Lakers within three after they’d trailed by as many as 11 early in the period. Bryant was starting to heat up as well, reaching eight points of his own on a pull up in the paint. Three was the margin heading into the second quarter, with Jrue Holiday exchanging late points, Holiday’s 11 one more than Bryant. The L.A. native and UCLA product was terrific in the period, showing how much the Sixers missed him in their home loss to L.A. two weeks back.

SECOND QUARTER
9:21 Evan Turner tried to wrap Morris up when the 2nd year guard exploded in transition at full speed, but was whistled for a flagrant 1 foul when Morris went down pretty hard. The Michigan product hit 1 of 2 free throws, and then stole the ball back after Howard’s shot was blocked to get Jodie Meeks an open three. That swish put the Lakers up 33-31, the 11-point deficit long gone.

3:00 Philly pushed its lead back to five with a short run, but L.A. responded with a 7-0 push of its own, highlighted by a reverse dunk from Meeks – who hasn’t had a ton of success this season when putting the ball on the floor – that allowed a 45-43 lead into a time out.

0:00 Just when L.A. had exerted some control to go up by four, the Sixers closed the half on a 9-2 run to take a 54-50 lead into halftime. The Lakers played with enough energy, but couldn’t hit any shots, Howard and Gasol combining to make only 1 of 11 field goals. Howard blocked three shots and grabbed five boards, but the O wasn’t coming. Bryant’s 8 of 13 and Hill’s 4 of 5 kept L.A. afloat, but they’d need better finishing from the bigs in the second half.

THIRD QUARTER
9:31 Philly went on a 7-2 run to open the third as well as it finished the second, opening a resulting 9-point lead. Howard continued to struggle on O, missing two more free throws (3 of 8) and failing to get a point-blank shot at the rim to fall, going 0 for 5 on field goals. Bryant, however, quickly trimmed it back to five with four consecutive free throws (61-56).

2:49 Having mentioned the struggles of L.A.’s two bigs, we can also note the positives, as Howard notched a put-back dunk (his first field goal in six attempts) and Gasol a jumper (his second field goal in eight attempts). The Spaniard then found Hill with a pretty pass for an and-1, trimming what had grown back to a nine-point lead to 74-69 (Hill missed the 10th Lakers free throw). It was the third Gasol assist, as he aimed for a sixth straight game with at least five since returning from knee tendinitis (eight missed games).

0:00 The deficit heading into the final quarter was eight, L.A. losing the third quarter 27-23 as they continued to struggle badly from three (1 for 14) and the foul line (16 for 27), the Sixers making up a ton of points with seven triples and perfect 10 of 10 shooting at the stripe. As such, the Lakers had yet another game of late in which erasing a late lead was a mandate, with the cruise to victory vs. Portland on Friday more of the exception.

FOURTH QUARTER
4:00 L.A. started to make a charge, getting a triple (finally) from MWP, but the Sixers kept hitting shots, getting their 8th triple (Turner) and three straight points from Spencer Hawes (a J and 1 of 2 free throws) to make it a 97-90 margin with 3:30 to play. To reiterate, the Lakers had not suffered from a lack of effort, but simply couldn’t make a shot. It was the opposite for Turner and Holiday especially, the young guards combining for 46 points on 17 of 31 shooting.

1:28 The three-point line had been L.A.’s enemy all night … until Bryant got one to fall, capping a quick 5-0 run to cut the Sixers lead to just two. However, Hawes hit a long two on the other end as an answer, and Bryant turned it over on the other end. Richardson – who had just missed two free throws – for some reason pulled up in transition for a three off the turnover, but missed. That left L.A. with a chance to again climb back in, but World Peace missed a three (L.A. 3 of 21), and Holiday split the lane and dunked with emphasis, a 103-97 lead with 22.4 left.

0:00 Nash hit a floater as Philly left the paint open, and Turner missed two free throws, but Bryant missed the final triple of the night, allowing the Sixers to dribble the clock out. It was a tough loss for L.A., who played hard and not poorly, but just couldn’t get anything to fall. They shot only 39.4 percent in the game, including 3 of 22 from three, and saw Howard go 1 for 7, Gasol 2 for 12 and World Peace 6 of 17. Tough to win like that. Alas, up next is a road game against the Clippers on Friday here at Staples. We’ll see you there.