Monthly Archive for February, 2013

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Lakers – Clippers Postgame Numbers

We broke down some of the more intriguing numbers from LAL’s 125-101 loss against LAC:

Points the Lakers conceded to the Clippers, the second-most allowed to an opponent this year. The visitors scored 30 or more points in the first three quarters and topped the century mark after 36 minutes of play. All five starters finished in double figures – six overall – and three had 20-plus (Chris Paul, Chauncey Billups, Blake Griffin). “(The defense) was non-existent,” Kobe Bryant said.

Assists on 38 made field-goals for the Lakers, as Bryant finished with 11 dimes. The home team also shot nearly 51 percent from the floor (50.7), but a combination of turnovers, offensive rebounds and 3-pointers was the difference.

Offensive rebounds for the Clippers that they turned into 19 second-chance points and 14 more opportunities. Griffin and DeAndre Jordan combined for 11 of them, as both finished with double-digit rebounds.

Three-pointers made by the Clippers – a season-high – out of 30 attempts (53.3 percent). They converted on 7 of 12 in the third quarter alone, extending their 12-point halftime lead to 21 entering the final frame. Four Clipper players finished with at least three triples (Matt Barnes, Billups, Caron Butler, Paul), led by Billups’ five. “Billups was shooting really well and that gives us another whole dimension,” Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro said.

Straight points for Griffin to begin the game as the Clippers jumped out to a 15-0 lead in the opening five minutes. The 6-foot-10 power forward recorded 18 of his 22 points in the opening quarter on 9 of 10 shooting, while the Lakers started the game 0 for 9, to go along with three turnovers.

Plus-rating for Jodie Meeks – a team-high – and the only player that logged 20 or more minutes and finished with a net positive. Meeks was part of a second unit, along with Steve Blake and Antawn Jamison, keyed a 14-3 that cut the Clippers lead to three points early in the second quarter. The Clippers, though, would respond with an 11-0 run near the end of the half, and Barnes would drill another 3-pointer right before halftime to push the lead back to double digits.

Lakers 101, Clips 125: Feb. 14 Running Diary

Below is a running diary of L.A.’s Thursday evening contest against the Clippers, the final game before the All-Star break, 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, Clark and Howard
Clippers: C. Paul, C. Billups, C. Butler, B. Griffin, D. Jordan

7:27 It was about as bad a start as possible for LAL, who missed their first 7 shots (5 wide open looks) & had 3 turnovers. The Clippers took advantage for an early 10-0 lead, all five field goals being scored by Blake Griffin, leading to a time out. Not what the home team had in mind.

5:00 L.A. finally got some shots to fall, with Steve Nash and Kobe Bryant both hitting consecutive field goals, but the Clippers had yet to slow down on offense, up to 20 points on 10 of 17 field goals, for an early 12-point lead. The Lakers were already missing Pau Gasol, usually effective on Griffin thanks to his length, as Blake went on to hit four more shots to reach 9 of 10 in the quarter.

0:00 Behind Griffin’s 18 points, the Clippers held a 31-17 lead, hitting 58 percent from the field to L.A.’s 33.3 percent. Hurting most were wide-open misses from three-point territory, the Lakers going 0 for 8, which really killed ‘em early. The Clips made 3 of their 7 attempts from downtown, but it was Griffin who really hurt L.A.

7:38 The bench of the Clippers is among the league’s most vaunted, and for good reason this season. But it was the LAL crew of Steve Blake, Jodie Meeks and Antawn Jamison with starters Earl Clark and Metta World Peace that went off to start the second quarter, as LAC’s 14-point lead was trimmed to only three when Jamison hit his fourth field goal of the first four minutes. The run was 14-3 for the visitors, with Nash and Bryant getting set to check back in.

2:10 Jamison stayed hot, reaching 15 points – 13 in the quarter – by hitting the first Lakers’ triple of the evening, off Kobe’s fourth assist. Bryant was up to 12 points after hitting four free throws, the Clippers holding onto a 52-47 lead after two free throws from Chris Paul (Nash thought the call was ridiculous) and another from Chauncey Billups (a technical on Jamison).

0:00 For the Lakers, a very ill-timed 11-0 LAC run pushed that lead right back to 14, the same number from which the second unit had trimmed all the way down to two. Billups and Paul did all the damage, including draining back-to-back three-pointers, in a run that took only a few seconds more than one minute. L.A. helped them out with turnovers, as Howard, Bryant and Nash struggled to get in sync. L.A. did manage five straight free throws as a quick answer to trim the lead back to nine, but Matt Barnes hit the seventh LAC three of the half in 15 attempts (LAL were just 1 for 10) to make it 64-52 at the break.

8:22 The starters allowed a 15-0 Clippers run to start the game, and a 14-6 burst to start the third quarter, resulting in these horrendous plus/minus numbers: Kobe -29, Howard -27, Nash -24, MWP -20, Clark -18. They turned it over four times in the first three minutes, conceding four more threes from the Clippers, who ran out to a 78-58 lead, shooting 52.4 percent from three (11 of 21) including 5 of 7 from Billups.

0:00 The long jump shots continued to fall at a ridiculous rate, with Butler adding his third, and Paul his second and third in the final minutes, CP3 beating the buzzer despite being contested by Blake, for the 14th make in 27 attempts (a ridiculous 51.9 percent from three). LAC had 101 points despite scoring only 26 in the paint, nailing jumpers from everywhere. L.A. actually started to score the ball late in the period, Meeks even converting a 4-point play, yet the deficit was 21 thanks to all the long Clips heaves. The Lakers had seven turnovers in the period, not helping themselves.

6:35 It had been a very quiet evening for Howard, who didn’t have his legs on either end, and even as he dunked a Bryant alley-oop in transition home, he barely got off the ground. The Clips still led by 20 at that point (110-90), having made seven of eight free throws in the period.

4:19 Bryant was the last starter to exit the game, leaving with 20 points, 11 assists and five boards, but also a game-high six turnovers (he’d argue that some came as he was fouled, thus earning a technical for arguing in the period) with the Clippers up 114-90 after Paul converted the T.

0:00 The final: Clippers 125, Lakers 101. A much-needed break starts now for the Lakers, 25-29 entering All-Star weekend, 3.5 games back of 8th place Houston. Howard and Bryant will play in Sunday’s All-Star game, while the next game is at home, on Feb. 20 against the Celtics. See you there.

Pick and Roll Breakdown: Nash and Howard

When Steve Nash and Dwight Howard became teammates, it seemed obvious that the NBA’s best pick and roll combination would be run in Los Angeles.

That’s not how things have worked out, at least so far.

“I would have thought we’d be a lot more potent in pick-and-roll situations,” admitted Nash this week at practice. “(Howard) played in a pick-and-roll offense. I played in a pick-and-roll offense, so I thought it would have been a lot more effective than it has been thus far. But maybe we can sort it out.”

Some of the blame has fallen on Howard, whether due to injuries or lack of familiarity, or a perceived greater interest in getting straight post ups.

“If (Howard’s) not as interested in pick-and-roll, then it’s probably not gonna be as successful,” Nash continued. “But I’m not really sure. I haven’t spoken to him about where his level of interest is in pick-and-roll.”

But there have been positive signs.

On Tuesday night against Phoenix, for example, the two executed a few pick and rolls perfectly, resulting in Howard buckets at the rim.

To better understand why the combination hasn’t been as seamless as many thought and how it might get better, assistant coach Dan D’Antoni offered a full breakdown. Here’s an edited transcript of his explanation:

Q: On how Howard and Nash think differently on pick and rolls:
Dan D’Antoni: Dwight was taught to pick, roll to the basket, seal and get the ball. He wasn’t pick, get the ball and then move. Steve is used to coming off the initial pick and delivering the ball without waiting on the seal. It’s a combination that takes time. Steve was hurt a good part of the year and there hasn’t been a lot of practice time. It’s a process for that feeling out to begin. I think it can happen. Now, if they allow outside pressures that you always hear to hurt the process of learning together and growing together, it could be trouble. If they can exclude that, understand that it is a process, then they have a chance.

Q: On what are opponents doing to disrupt things?
D’Antoni: As Nash gets off that initial pick, defenses start to catch up. There’s a quick gap – a little bit off of him, a little off the roll guy early – and then as you get deeper, the floor starts closing down. For a smaller guy, that’s more difficult. Steve is still really good, but when you get rid of the ball earlier, you force rotations faster, which means the other passes are easier, too. When you wait, opponents stay out knowing you won’t get that little easy one, so they cut down on these passes out. Now he has two more dribbles down and they start reducing the floor and it’s stopped.

Q: On Howard preferring to get the ball closer to the hoop, but having a lot of room to grow:
D’Antoni: In the middle of the floor, you have to be agile, you have to start doing face-to-the-basket skills as opposed to back-to-the-basket skills. Amare (Stoudemire) was much better facing the basket, but Dwight (Howard) is a lot better with his back to the basket. I wouldn’t limit Dwight to that. A lot of people want to say: ‘Leave him the way he is.’ No, I think he can grow and I think he’s better than that. It takes times; it’s a process. He’s working on it every day. The coaches are working with him and I think he’ll get it. It’s just a process. It doesn’t happen tomorrow.

Lakers – Clippers Preview

During the Lakers last meeting against the Clippers in early January, Chris Paul scored 18 of his 30 points during the second half – 11 coming in the fourth quarter – to help his team escape with a 107-102 victory.

“He’s very smart and very crafty,” Kobe Bryant said postgame. “To his credit, he made some pretty tough shots … Superstar players do that.”

Both L.A. squads, at that point, were headed in different directions. The Clippers were fresh off a franchise-record 17-game winning streak, while the Lakers were struggling to reach .500.

“It’s pretty frustrating,” Bryant acknowledged.

Much has changed in the last month-and-a-half, though.

The purple and gold have won eight of their last 11, while the Clippers have lost eight of their last 13. Paul, however, has been absent in nine of those games, sidelined with a bruised right kneecap.

“Without him, they’re a completely different team,” coach Mike D’Antoni said after Wednesday’s practice.

That much is evident, according to the statistics. In 12 games without their floor general, the Clippers are a .500 ballclub, boasting a 6-6 record. But their offense, more than anything, suffers without their starting point guard.

In 42 games with Paul in the starting lineup, the Clippers are averaging 101.4 points per game on 47.6 percent from the floor. In the 12 games without him, those numbers drop to 94.7 and 45.9, respectively.

“It starts with his competitive fire, his ability to engage guys, being a great teammate and all that,” D’Antoni said. “That’s one, and two, his unselfishness and he’s unbelievably skilled – his vision of the court, and defensively, he’s all over the ball. There are a lot of great things he does. He’s just an unbelievable basketball player.”

Not only is Paul key in the Clippers’ success, but their bench play has been an integral part in the team’s play this season.

Jamal Crawford, a candidate for the 6th Man of the Year award, is tied for the league’s lead among bench scorers at 17.1 points per game and spearheads a second unit that also boasts Eric Bledsoe (9.8 points, 3.3 assists), Matt Barnes (10.4 points, 4.8 rebounds) and Lamar Odom (3.8 points, 5.9 rebounds).

“(Their bench) is deep, but you can only play five at a time,” D’Antoni said. “The five guys we have on the floor are playing well, so we can matchup.”

Even after losing Jordan Hill to hip surgery and Pau Gasol to a tear in his plantar fascia, D’Antoni has rotated Steve Blake, Jodie Meeks and Antawn Jamison off the bench. All three have had particularly strong outings of late.

Jamison recorded 19 points and 10 rebounds against Phoenix on Tuesday night, Meeks has converted on 9 of his last 20 shots from the 3-point line and Blake has given the Lakers an edge on the defensive side of the ball.

“He’s played well the last three games after hitting a kind of rough spot on the road trip,” D’Antoni said of Blake. “His defense, his knowledge of the defense and being able to spearhead the second group (has been important). To me, him, Meeks and Jamison won the game for us (against Phoenix).”

Now with the Lakers starting to play better on both sides of the ball in the last couple weeks, the players understand the significance of Thursday’s nationally televised game against their co-tenants, who currently sit in third place in the Western Conference.

“It’ll be a great test for us,” Steve Nash said. “Obviously, they’re having a good year. With Chris back and healthy, they’re a different team. It will be a great challenge for us.”

Lakers – Suns Postgame Numbers

We broke down some of the more intriguing numbers from LAL’s 91-85 win against Phoenix:

Points apiece for Dwight Howard and Antawn Jamison, who both finished with double-doubles. Howard (18) and Jamison (10) combined for 28 of L.A.’s 48 rebounds. “I don’t always feel like the numbers tell a story with Dwight,” Steve Nash said. “Defensively, he was a huge presence. Offensively, I thought he put energy into the game.”

Plus-rating for Metta World Peace, a team-high. World Peace recorded 17 points – nine coming in the opening quarter – after averaging just nine points on the most recent road trip. He started 4 of 6 – finished 6 of 16 – but also notched eight rebounds and four steals.

Third-quarter points for the Lakers, a season-low in any quarter. L.A. shot 3 for 20 (15 percent) and didn’t make a field goal for the final 8:57, missing their last 14 shots of the quarter. Phoenix shot just 9 for 23 (39.1 percent), but outscored the home team 24-9 to take a six-point lead heading into the final frame.

Points for Kobe Bryant, who didn’t attempt a shot in the first half and didn’t score his first basket until 2:13 remaining in the game. The game was the longest Bryant had played in the NBA with only one made field goal and his lowest scoring game since Jan. 13, 2005 against Cleveland. He did finish with nine assists, but also had eight turnovers. “I think, obviously, going 1 for 8 isn’t necessarily a recipe for success,” Bryant said. “But I think the important thing is that we just moved the ball. It’s not about us individually; it’s just about what we can do to help the team.”

Fastbreak points for Phoenix in the fourth quarter after recording 23 in the first three. The Lakers also limited the Suns to 6 for 19 from the floor (31.6 percent) towards 14 points, while also forcing six turnovers in erasing the six-point deficit to begin the fourth.

Lakers 91, Suns 85: Feb. 12 Running Diary

Below is a running diary of L.A.’s Tuesday evening home contest against Phoenix, 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, Clark and Howard
Suns: G. Dragic, P. Tucker, J. Dudley, L. Scola, M. Gortat

3:58 It’s been a really rough start to 2013 for Metta World Peace on offense. He’s shot over 50 percent only twice in the new year, and is shooting 26 percent in February. But the slump may be over … he hit four straight shots amidst a personal 9-0 scoring run to put the Lakers up 20-11 early. Dwight Howard then reached eight points with a bucket off Kobe’s fourth assist and a free throw, and was active on defense (five boards) to help open a 12-point lead for the home team, bent on revenge after blowing a 13-point fourth quarter lead at Phoenix to kick off the Grammy trip.

0:00 Kobe kept passing, with consecutive assists getting Antawn Jamison open jumpers from the corner in front of L.A.’s bench, the veteran knocking both – one being a three – down to allow a 30-point quarter. Phoenix did manage a corner three of its own (the second from P.J. Tucker) to keep the margin at eight after one quarter. Howard grabbed six boards with his eight points in a strong individual quarter.

6:56 A pretty pass from Steve Blake got Jamison a layup, and capped an 8-0 Lakers run to restore a double-digit lead at 41-30 after the Suns had opened the quarter on a run to cut the once 12-point lead to just three. Blake also had a three-pointer and an alley-oop assist to Howard amidst the run.

0:00 A solid all-around first half concluded with the Lakers taking a 56-47 lead, behind eight dimes from the occasionally-over-passing Bryant, whose four turnovers helped Phoenix to 12 fast break points. But 14 points from Jamison were a nice bonus off the bench, his fast break dunk closing the scoring in the half.

6:38 The fifth field goal and second triple from World put the Lakers up 10, but they played very poorly in the next few minutes, allowing a 7-0 Phoenix run that could have been 11-0 had Jared Dudley not missed consecutive layup attempts. L.A. was up to 12 turnovers, with Bryant (five of those turnovers) continuing to try and force the ball into Howard. The Suns were up to 21 fast break points, a big problem for L.A. all year, as they rank dead last on the season in that category.

0:00 The offense was unrecognizably poor for almost the entirety of the third quarter, L.A. literally failing to make a shot from the 8:58 mark (Metta’s three) until the quarter closed, the team missing 13 consecutive shots. Kobe missed all four of his attempts, and his over-passing seemed to break the rhythm of the offense, reaching six of the team’s 15 turnovers. Phoenix took advantage with an 18-2 run, 24-9 overall in the quarter to head into the fourth period up 71-65. After 18 assists in the first half, they had two in the third.

9:48 To L.A.’s rescue to start the fourth quarter came World Peace, his five straight points behind intensity on both ends tying the game at 73. His third steal led to two free throws to cap the run, as Howard checked back in at the 10-minute mark, Mike D’Antoni not wanting to risk leaving the small unit featuring Clark at center any longer, and a 10-2 run continued with a tough hoop through the Phoenix trees by Meeks making it 75-73.

2:10 Forty-six minutes into the game, and Bryant hit his first field goal, having missed his previous seven and turned the ball over six times trying to get everybody else going. He did have nine assists, and put the Lakers up eight with the put-back shot in the paint. They’d outscored Phoenix 24-10 to that point of the fourth, with Jamison up to 19 points with 10 boards and Howard 19 points with 17 boards and two blocks.

0:00 The defense and hustle ultimately won out for L.A. in the fourth quarter, Phoenix managing only 14 points to total 85 in the game on 41 percent shooting. Howard was the key in the paint, with 18 rebounds and pretty good help on the weak side, while World Peace was all over the perimeter, his fourth steal coming in the final moments, to help seal it. The Lakers have now won 8 of 12 games, and four straight at home, with the Clippers coming in on Thursday in the final game before the All-Star break. We’ll see you there.

Monday Practice Roundup

Steve Blake Impact
Coach Mike D’Antoni only had high praise for guard Steve Blake at his introductory press conference back in mid-November.

The first-year Lakers coach acknowledged every summer he so desired for the 6-foot-3 combo guard to be on his roster.

“I’ve been trying to get him for 10 years,” D’Antoni said. “We always tried to get him; I think he’s perfect for our system.”

But even then, D’Antoni had to wait for Blake to suit up in uniform. The Maryland product had suffered what was originally diagnosed as an abdominal strain against Detroit on Nov. 4. Further complications then led to surgery, for which Blake was sidelined more than 10 weeks.

Prior to his return, Kobe Bryant conceded in late January they had been missing their backup point guard.

“The most important thing that we’ve been missing from him is his competitiveness,” he explained. “He’s a feisty dude and we need that here.”

His return to the court has also coincided with L.A.’s recent run of strong play, as they’ve won seven of their last 10. Overall, they boast a 5-3 record since he first appeared in a game under D’Antoni against New Orleans at home on Jan. 29. Most notably, his impact on the defensive end has been evident.

Prior to Pau Gasol being sidelined with a tear in his plantar fascia, the five-man unit of Blake, Bryant, Metta World Peace, Gasol and Dwight Howard boasts a defensive efficiency rating of 91.6 (points allowed per 100 possessions).

In those five wins, the Lakers are allowing 95.8 points on 42.1 percent shooting from the floor – even with Howard absent for three of these contests nursing his sore right shoulder and Gasol one.

Against Brooklyn, Blake spent time guarding both Deron Williams and Joe Johnson, who combined to shoot 9 for 28 from the floor.

His play on offense has come around of late, too.

He scored seven straight points to open the fourth quarter in L.A.’s 92-83 win, affording both Steve Nash and Bryant more rest.

“Being on the court and playing more helped me to better understand the offensive system and made me more confident,” Blake said postgame. “Gaining more knowledge on the court gives me confidence when I take a shot late in the game.“

Lakers Say They’re Feeling Optimistic off the Road Trip
The Lakers returned home from their 7-game, 13-day Grammy road trip with a 4-3 record, yet they remain in 10th place in the Western Conference standings – four games out of the 7th spot and 3.5 out of the 8th position.

“We didn’t gain ground, but we didn’t lose ground, which is always important when you go on the road,” Nash explained. “In some ways, the trip made us stronger and there was some success on the trip. We’re going to keep moving forward as positively as possible.”

Moving forward without Gasol, who underwent surgery after tearing the plantar fascia in his right foot, Bryant acknowledged the importance of missing the 7-foot Spaniard for an extended period.

“I know the significance of Pau (Gasol) being out there, which a lot of people don’t understand,” he said.

This year, the Lakers are 6-10 without Gasol, and opponents are averaging 105.1 points on 46.8 percent from the floor. In the 36 games he’s appeared in, those numbers drop to 98.8 points and 44.4 percent.

Bryant afforded that the team will be forced to adjust – again – in a season where there has been constant change each time the Lakers have started to play well.

“We got injuries every time we put it together,” he explained. “Every time we’re playing well or find a rhythm on how we want to go about things, it seems we’re hit with another injury bug. Now we have to kind of figure out another rhythm of how to play. It’s a constant adjustment.”

With two home games against the Suns, who the Lakers fell to nearly two weeks ago, and the Clippers, the players realize the importance of maintaining their strong play with the All-Star break around the corner.

“These would be two big wins for us, no question,” Nash said. “If we can continue to win two out of every three or three out of four the rest of the way, we can put ourselves in a pretty good place.”

Lakers – Heat Postgame Numbers

We broke down some of the more intriguing numbers from LAL’s 107-97 loss at Miami:

Shooting percentage for LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, who both converted on 12 of 18 field goals. The two combined for 62 of Miami’s 107 points,
38 of those coming in the second half when the Heat outscored L.A. by 10 to break a 53-all tie at halftime. Also of note: James became the third player in NBA history to record five consecutive 30-point games while also shooting at least 60 percent from the floor in the same game.

Rebounds for Miami, who held a plus-nine in this category despite being ranked last in the league in that department. The Heat also grabbed 10 offensive boards – four coming from Chris Bosh – that they turned into 16 second-chance points.

Personal fouls for the Heat, including five players with at least four. James was whistled for at least four for just the third time this season, after going six straight games earlier in the year without committing a foul.

Plus-rating for Shane Battier – a team-high – in 29 minutes off the bench. The Duke product scored nine points, all coming on 3-pointers that came at key points during the game. His first triple capped a 9-2 Miami run late in the second quarter to tie the game at 44 apiece, while his second one came moments later to stop a 4-0 mini Lakers run. His last basket with 2:42 remaining pushed the Heat lead to double digits at 100-90 after Kobe Bryant had cut the deficit to seven on a turnaround jumper.

Turnovers in the fourth quarter for the Lakers after recording just seven total in the first three quarters. There were consecutive possessions in the final frame where L.A. coughed up the ball, allowing the Heat to get out in transition and record six of their 19 fastbreak points. “Turnovers were the problem in the last nine minutes of the game,” coach Mike D’Antoni said. “Again, you have to give (the Heat) credit. We just didn’t make the right play at the right time. They did.”

Lakers 97, Heat 107: Feb. 10 Running Diary

Below is a running diary of L.A.’s Sunday afternoon road contest against Miami, the seventh and final game in 12 days on the Grammy road trip (L.A. 4-2), 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, Clark and Howard
Heat: M. Chalmers, D. Wade, L. James, U. Haslem, C. Bosh

3:57 For the third time in the first quarter, Kobe Bryant found Steve Nash for a bucket, the first two near the rim and the second on a wide open three from the top of the key. The make put the Lakers up 17-14, and they added two points when Nash found Earl Clark for an alley-oop layup to allow an early 5-point margin. Nice start for the Lakers, who’d managed not to pick up a team foul after amassing four in the first five minutes.

0:00 After not taking a shot in the first six minutes, LeBron got aggressive, amassing 10 points in the period by hitting all three of his shots and four free throws. But it was the Lakers with the lead after one, since Bryant’s fifth assist got Steve Blake a wide open corner three that he buried to make it 26-25 for the road team. Mike D’Antoni’s team was playing in its eighth game in 13 days, but had pretty good energy to start.

8:58 Jodie Meeks, so key in L.A.’s comeback at Charlotte on Friday (energetic defense and four three-point makes), hit his first triple of the game to start the second, and Clark continued his aggressive play by putting his own miss back, allowing 11 points with four boards. Then came the second Howard field goal on a nice post move from left to right, giving L.A. its biggest lead at 38-31.

6:00 The second unit of Steve Blake, Meeks, Clark, MWP and Howard continued to play well, outscoring Miami 16-10 to open a 7-point lead. Back in came Kobe a few moments later, and he immediately hit a J to counter Wade’s layup. Yet a minute later, Mario Chalmers put back his own miss with L.A. failing to clear the glass, and LeBron scored easily in transition to give himself 12 points (one more than Clark) and cut the LAL lead to three at the 4:01 mark.

0:00 It wasn’t a great final few minutes for the visitors, as they failed to take advantage of LeBron having to sit the final three minutes with three fouls, allowing Miami to tie the game at 53 heading into the tunnel. Miami was actually on fire when they managed to get shots off, hitting 59.5 percent of their attempts, but they turned it over nine times towards 13 Lakers points.

8:15 The teams were still tied four minutes into the second half, with some odd occurrences out there, like Howard/Haslem getting into it and being called for a double foul, LeBron getting a technical after a call he didn’t like, and Nash getting upset with Howard when the big man failed to properly execute a screen/roll. It’s very, very rare to see Nash get visibly upset with a teammate out on the floor, and says something about how frustrated he’s gotten with Howard. Often times, Howard hasn’t fully set a screen to free Nash up, and then hasn’t rolled hard to the rim, which can kill the play and leave the point guard hanging. Howard also had only three rebounds, L.A. down 28-14 on the glass to the NBA’s worst rebounding team.

2:27 Kobe scored nine of his 18 points in the third quarter, his and-1 over Chris Andersen in the paint with his left hand tying the game up at 71, in what had been a hotly-contested quarter of a very good basketball game.


4:30 Behind nine points from Dwyane Wade in the first six minutes of the period – he and LeBron were both 6 for 10 from the field – the Heat built their biggest lead at seven, where it stayed for a few minutes until two Kobe free throws made it 91-86. Bryant was up to 22 points on 9 of 17 field goals with his eight assists, but Miami had taken control of the game.

0:00 The Heat simply outplayed the Lakers in the fourth quarter, with both Wade (30 points on 12 of 18 field goals) and LeBron (32 points on 12 of 18 as well) going off, L.A. hurting itself with eight turnovers after committing only seven in the first three quarters. They ran the O almost exclusively through Kobe on the post, which worked at times (he had 28 points on 11 of 19 shooting with nine assists and six boards), as they essentially abandoned a pick and roll game not really working with Howard. With the 107-97 loss, L.A. fell to 4-3 on the Grammy trip, and 1-2 since Pau Gasol suffered the tear of his plantar fascia. Up next are two home games before the All-Star break, starting with Phoenix on Tuesday. We’ll see you there.

Lakers – Bobcats Postgame Numbers

We broke down some of the more intriguing numbers from LAL’s 100-93 win at Charlotte:

Points for Kobe Bryant in the second half after finishing the first 24 minutes scoreless. Bryant scored the final eight points for L.A. – 14 in the fourth quarter – while also collecting eight assists and seven rebounds.

This was also the largest lead the Bobcats held with 5:26 left in the third quarter, but L.A. finished the last 17-plus minutes on a 49-22 run to nab their fourth victory in the last five games.

Fourth-quarter points for Charlotte on 7 for 21 from the floor (33.3 percent). The Lakers outscored the home team 31-15 in the final frame, erasing a nine-point deficit at the beginning of the quarter. The Bobcats only managed 40 second-half points after recording 30 in the first.

Plus-rating for Earl Clark – a team-high – while finishing with 17 points and 10 boards, his fourth double-double in the last five games. The Louisville product almost single-handedly spurred a 9-0 run in less than two minutes during the third quarter to help get the Lakers back in the game.

Three-pointers made by Jodie Meeks in as many attempts towards 14 points off the bench. He also collected four rebounds, including two in the span of forty seconds in the fourth quarter. With the Lakers nursing a 92-91 lead, his offensive board allowed Bryant to sink a jumper to extend their lead to 94-91 with 2:15 remaining and his rebound on the other end on the next possession set up two Bryant free throws after a Charlotte foul.

Points for Dwight Howard in the second half, although his energy and activity on the defensive end was more evident. He recorded two blocked shots in the fourth quarter – one that led to a shot clock violation and one that preserved L.A.’s three-point lead at 96-93 with less than a minute remaining – while also altering a number of others. The big man finished with a double-double – 12 points and 11 rebounds – to go along with three blocks.