Archive for the 'In-Game' Category

Olympic Gold Medalist David Wise at Lakers Game

In a city where some of the biggest stars frequent Laker basketball games, there was another special visitor that came to town on Sunday: Olympic gold medalist, David Wise.

Wise, 23, won his event’s first gold medal in the men’s freestyle skiing competition at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games. The Reno native said he’s been skiing his entire life and competing in halfpipe for 10 years.

“It was unreal,” he said. “It’s still settling in that I actually won.”

As for a repeat in the next Olympic games?

“I’m hoping to be representing Team USA again and doing the best I can.”

*Wise is on Twitter and Instagram. He participated in the Bellagio Big Shot Jackpot Challenge at the conclusion of the third quarter.

Lakers Honor Gold Medalists

The Los Angeles Lakers invited all gold medalists who reside in Southern California from the 2012 Olympics in London.

Those honored during the halftime ceremony include:

Track & Field

Allyson Felix: A native of Santa Clarita and a graduate of USC, Felix notched her first Olympic gold medal in the 200-meter event, along with gold medals in the 4×100 relay and 4×400 relay events.

Carmelita Jeter: Set the record for most NCAA medals by a Cal State Dominguez Hills track athlete, and was part of the 4×100 relay team that set a world record (40.82 seconds).

Jeneba Tarmoh: An All-American at Texas A&M University and a resident of San Jose, Tarmoh was part of the 4×100 relay team, too.

DeeDee Trotter: Born in Twenty Nine Palms, Calif., Trotter competed on the 4×400 relay team, along with Felix, that won the gold medal.

Keshia Baker: A native of Los Angeles, Baker competed on the 4×400 relay team, along with Felix and Trotter.

Swimming

Rebecca Soni: A graduate of USC, Soni set a world record in the 200-meter breaststroke with a time of 2:19:59. She also competed on the women’s 4×100 medley team that clocked in at 3:52:05, a world record, too.

Eric Shantaeau: Part of the 4×100-meter medley relay team in the breaststroke competition.

Rowing

Esther Lofgren: A native of Long Beach and a graduate of Harvard University, Lofgren was part of a eight-person rowing crew that took home the gold medal.

Skeet Shooting

Kim Rhode: Born in Whittier, Rhode won the gold medal in skeet shooting, tying a world record with a score of 99.

Gymnastics

Kyla Ross: Was part of the gold medal-winning U.S. team nicknamed the “Fierce Five.” She currently attends Aliso Niguel High.

Women’s Water Polo

Kami Craig, Courtney Mathewson, Heather Petri, Kelly Rulon, Brenda Villa, Lauren Wenger and Tumualalil Anae all helped the USA defeat Spain 8-5.

Women’s Soccer

Shannon Boxx, Sydney Leroux, Alex Morgan, Amy Rodriguez, Abby Wambach, Kelley O’Hara led the USA to a 2-1 victory over Japan.

Lakers 105, Raptors 106: Running Diary

59393758We took a look at the Lakers – Raptors contest in Toronto while it was happening, entering a thought or three each quarter as the Lakers looked to win their second straight road game.

Inactives
Lakers: D.J. Mbenga
Raptors: Marcus Banks

Starters
Lakers: Fisher, Bryant, Artest, Gasol and Bynum
Raptors: Jarrett Jack, DeMar DeRozan, Hedo Turkoglu, Chris Bosh and Andrea Bargnani

Canadian Home Court Edge
The Raptors have been one of the league’s best home teams this season, particularly of late. In fact, they had won 8-of-9 games at Air Canada Centre heading into Sunday’s game, including five straight against Western Conference teams (Dallas, San Antonio, New Orleans, Houston and Minnesota). We should recognize the vigor of the home crowd, which is very festive (much like a European soccer crown, minus the extra curriculars).

59393751First Quarter
5:07 Pau Gasol capped a very aggressive personal open to the first with a nasty one-handed dunk in transition off the feed of Derek Fisher to make it 14-5 Lakers. The Spaniard would close the quarter with a game-high 10 points in the period on 5-of-9 shooting. Unrelated: did you know that Subways in Canada don’t have spinach or olive oil? I found out the hard way.

2:07 Ron Artest struggled to find his range throughout the quarter, missing all five of his attempts from various spots around the perimeter. Perhaps this is because Celine Dion, of whom he’s a big fan, was not here to sing “Oh Canada”? Just a guess.

0:02.9 It took a while, but the Raptors finally started to hit some shots near the quarter’s close after opening just 2-of-10, getting a Chris Bosh hoop and a end-of-shot-clock Marco Belinelli three-pointer to keep Toronto within three (24-21) at the quarter’s close. By the way, the Canada Dry ginger ale in the media room tastes quite good, not surprisingly.

Second Quarter
8:51 Jordan Farmar, who had made at least one three-pointer in five straight games, nailed another thanks to Bryant’s penetration. Farmar’s shooting around 43 percent in January, and has been fairly consistent. In related news, he’s been spending considerable time at the gym at night shooting with his personal trainer.

3:31 Sticking to the ol’ game plan in the second, the Lakers repeatedly pounded the ball inside to Bynum, who responded with 13 points in the quarter as the Raptors were left literally without an answer. Bynum had three separate and-1′s, all helping the Lakers to a 48-41 lead when Odom took his place.

0:01.9 Kobe nailed three jumpers all in the final minute of the quarter to put a dent in Toronto’s first hot stretch of the game that had produced 14 points since a 48-40 Lakers lead. His final J gave the Lakers a two-point edge heading into the half. Bryant closed the half with 14 points, eight boards and five assists, and was on triple-double watch (he had 16 in his career coming into the game).

59393754Third Quarter
9:45 The Lakers brought some California heat to the start of the third quarter, getting consecutive buckets from Gasol and Bynum before Bryant atoned for his missed dunk with a corner three. That capped a 7-0 run to start the third, creating a nine-point cushion.

4:32 L.A.’s lead briefly reached 10 when Fisher canned a corner three, but the Raptors responded with a 6-0 run to cut the margin to 73-69 and force a Phil time out. Jarrett Jack was key in the run, scoring twice at the rim and feeding Bosh for a baseline jumper. Random note: I learned that Canada native Kiefer Sutherland’s grandpa is a famous/important politician from our cab driver to the arena.

0:08.9 DeMar DeRozan’s baseline jumper capped a quick 4-0 run to close the third for Toronto, cutting L.A.’s lead to two points – as it was at halftime – heading into the final quarter. Bryant was within only two assists of his triple-double with 21 points, 12 boards and eight assists, not to mention an explosive baseline dunk and big swat of Bargnani.

Fourth Quarter
8:25 Speaking of Bargnani … the Italian and former No. 1 overall pick nailed his third field goal in the opening minutes of the quarter to tie the score at 88. He was one of five Raptors in double figures at that point (Bosh, DeRozan, Jack and Belinelli), as the Lakers gave Bryant a rest in favor of Shannon Brown.

7:13 Just moments after failing to see Luke Walton’s alley-oop pass, Farmar atoned with his third three-pointer of the game. It also answered Bargnani’s three at the other end, a rainbow that had given Toronto its first lead of the game at 93-90, sending the crowd – which easily ranks in the NBA’s top five – into a relative frenzy. Fast forward to the 3:23 mark, when Farmar got a tough runner to go (17 pts) at the end of the shot clock to put the Lakers up 103-100 in a terrific up-and-down final quarter.

0:01.2 A crazy final few minutes as Bryant put the Lakers up 105-101 with a shot over Turkoglu, but he missed his next two jumpers – including a fade away with a second left on the shot clock – to give the Raptors a chance to go ahead with 11.4 seconds left in a 105-104 game. As it turned out, Turkoglu managed to draw a foul heading to the bucket with just 1.2 seconds to go as the ref whistled a push in the back (Gasol’s hand was on his back, but the Turkish forward appeared to be out of control and set to dive towards the hoop). Alas, he made both foul shots, and Bryant’s desperation three-pointer from 38 feet rimmed out to give the Raptors a dramatic come-from-behind victory.

Before L.A. plays the Wizards on Tuesday, they’ll go visit with President Obama at the White House on Monday … and before that, your numbers:

POSTGAME NUMBERS
1 Assist shy of a triple-double for Kobe Bryant, who scored a game-high 27 points on 11-of-24 shooting.

3 Players scoring at least 20 points, with Bryant’s 27, Pau Gasol’s 22 and Andrew Bynum’s 21. Both Bynum and Gasol grabbed nine rebounds as well.

12 L.A.’s edge on the glass, 51-39.

15 More free throw attempts for the Raptors (26) than the Lakers (9).

16 Career high regular season rebounding total for Bryant. Both Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum added nine rebounds for the Lakers.

17 Points off the bench for Jordan Farmar in 22 minutes on 7-of-11 shooting, plus four rebounds and all of the crunch time minutes at point guard.

Lakers 115, Knicks 105: Running Diary

59365828Click here to check out the Lakers’ Gameday Page
We took a look at the Lakers – Knicks contest in New York City while it was happening, entering a thought or three each quarter as the Lakers looked to complete a season sweep of the Knicks.

Inactives
Lakers: Adam Morrison
Knicks: Eddy Curry

Starters
Lakers: Fisher, Bryant, Artest, Gasol and Bynum
Knicks: Chris Duhon, Wilson Chandler, Danilo Gallinari, Jared Jeffries, David Lee

First Quarter
7:33 The Lakers opened hotter than the roof of your mouth after drinking something hot too fast, with L.A. nailing 7-of-8 shots to take a 15-11 lead when Ron Artest sank his second deep jumper in as many attempts. Ron Ron, playing on the same floor he frequented as a St. John’s player, led the Lakers with a 38.4 percent success rate from three coming into the game.

593655165:30 The Knicks capped a quick 8-0 run with a Jared Jeffries dunk on the baseline, turning a four-point deficit into a four-point lead rather quickly. Phil Jackson had mentioned before the game how difficult the Knicks can be on a defense because of their unconventional system that takes time to adjust to, and that seemed the case as L.A. was unable to rotate to open shooters on time.

1:41 Andrew Bynum had a solid first quarter, leading the Lakers with 11 points after two free throws put L.A. up 30-25. Phil Jackson rewarded him by removing Pau Gasol when Lamar Odom checked into the contest moments before Bynum’s foul shots. Moments later another sub, Jordan Farmar (who joined Gasol in donating money to Haiti relief) nailed back-to-back threes to send the Lakers into the second quarter with a 36-30 lead.

Second Quarter
10:38 Gasol checked back into the contest to open the second quarter and scored quickly thanks to Odom’s offensive rebound. That gave him six points, which meant $6,000 for the Clinton-Bush Haiti Fund since Gasol was donating $1,000 for each point he scored on the evening (Farmar is also donating to the Fund). Wouldn’t assisting one of Gasol’s buckets feel extra good tonight?

4:41 Gasol’s next bucket was a lefty hook off glass, which followed Luke Walton’s corner three to give the Lakers a 51-49 lead. Did you know that Walton leads the team in three-point percentage at 60 percent? OK, so he’s only taken 10. Whatever.

0:01.0 Artest was at it again from the three-point line, nailing his third in as many attempts to send the Lakers into the half tied at 63. Bynum led the Lakers with 17 points, Artest had 11 and Gasol eight while Bryant managed just five. The Lakers shot 56.1 percent from the field, but conceded eight offensive rebounds to the Knicks, which made up the difference of New York’s 48.1 percent from the field. It was not a good defensive effort for the Lakers, who caused not a single Knicks turnover, but L.A. generally plays its best D in the second half.

59365843Third Quarter
6:50 Bryant began to find an offensive rhythm at the quarter’s onset, scoring nine of L.A.’s 12 points capped by a three-pointer that made it 75-74 purple and gold. Clearly, he was going to find his way sooner than later.

2:44 Two Knicks – David Lee and Wilson Chandler – had been hurting the Lakers on defense throughout the evening, and each broke into 20-point scoring territory late in the third, producing an 81-79 lead for the home team thanks to Lee’s two-handed dunk. Lee had 21, and Chandler 22 at that point as Farmar and Brown entered the contest for L.A.

0:01.2 Bryant’s attempt at beating the buzzer with a driving layup was denied by Harrington, but Farmar’s third three-pointer of the game got the Lakers within a point at 85-84. L.A. stayed barely above the 50-percent shooting mark (50.8) and was executing decently on offense, but had forced just two Knicks turnovers to that point and grabbed only four offensive rebounds to 10 from the Knicks.

Fourth Quarter
8:37 Those offensive rebounding and turnover numbers sometimes equate to energy, and if the Lakers were tired from last night’s loss in Cleveland, they seemed determined to push past it in the fourth*. Phil Jackson’s decision to start the young legs of Farmar and Brown seemed to help considerably, and moments later it was Gasol whose energy tangibly affected the team. First came a back down of Chandler for a deuce, then a drawn charge, then tip in of Lamar Odom’s missed put-back and finally a swat of David Lee that helped create an eight-point lead.
*We later learned that Derek Fisher gave a pre-quarter speech that clearly riled up the troops.

4:03 Speaking of Gasol … his terrific fourth quarter continued with an and-1 driving layup. He made the free throw in some atonement for missing 3-of-8 to start, reaching eight points with two boards and three blocks in the quarter and matching L.A.’s largest lead at 107-95.

1:50 It was truly all Kobe and Pau on offense for the Lakers in the fourth, as the two combined to score 23-of-27 points to create a 113-103 lead. Both teams would add two points as the game concluded moments later, the Lakers erasing Thursday evening’s losing stench thanks to a 31-20 final period. The Knicks really struggled to get good looks thanks to active defense in that final period, and scored only 44 points in the second half after a 63-point first half.

The Lakers will sleep in New York City tonight, then hop on a plane to Canada tomorrow in advance of Sunday’s game against Toronto. Until then, your numbers:

POSTGAME NUMBERS
42 Second half points for the Knicks, who put 63 on the Lakers defense in the first half. Phil Jackson said the team made notable adjustments at halftime and generally played in more aggressive fashion.

23 Combined fourth quarter points for Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol, who finished with 27 and 20, respectively, to lead the Lakers.

14 Rebounds off the bench by Lamar Odom to lead the Lakers, including five on the offensive end.

6 Turnovers created by the Lakers, well below their average.

4 Blocked shots for Pau Gasol, who played center for the entire fourth quarter to better match up with New York’s small lineup. Gasol added 10 points and five boards in the final period to finish with 20 points, eight boards, five assists and four boards.

Lakers 87, Cavs 93: Running Diary

59355599Click here to check out the Lakers’ Gameday Page
We took a look at the Lakers – Cavs contest in Cleveland while it was happening, entering a thought or three each quarter as the Lakers looked to avenge their Christmas Day loss.

Inactives
Lakers: Adam Morrison
Cavs: Mo Williams (left shoulder), Leon Powe, Jamario Moon

Starters
Lakers: Fisher, Bryant, Artest, Gasol and Bynum
Cavs: Delonte West, Anthony Parker, LeBron James, J.J. Hickson, Shaquille O’Neal

59355109First Quarter
10:02 Pau Gasol’s turnaround in the lane capped a 9-0 Lakers run to open the contest, beginning with consecutive Kobe Bryant jumpers (the second a three-pointer) and an Andrew Bynum dunk courtesy of Ron Artest’s offensive rebound and dish. Not a bad start.

7:03 Cleveland, which boasts a 15-3 home record and has won 13-of-14 at “The Q” (Quicken Loans Arena, mind you), responded to L.A.’s burst with a 10-2 run of their own to pull within a point. A little late on this note, but when LeBron throws the powder in the air, do you think he ever considers using Pixie Stix (just to benefit the fans and broadcasters)?

1:09 Bryant nailed his fifth shot in eight attempts in an aggressive first quarter that produced 12 points (two-of-two from three) and helped give the Lakers a 27-18 lead after the period. Gasol, Odom and Bynum did a terrific job on the glass, doubling up the Cavs 16-8 and not allowing a single offensive board (helped that Cleveland shot 35.3 percent to L.A.’s 52.2).

Second Quarter
8:57 Kobe continued to impress with his offensive arsenal by nailing two more jumpers from the right wing to reach 7-of-10 for 16 points in pacing 59355408the Lakers to a 32-26 lead. He’d also switched over to guard LeBron James, with Artest getting a breather.

3:00 Had enough Kobe mentions yet? Well, if you score 25,000 points in your career on the first of two free throws, you can get your third straight running diary mention too.

0:04.8 James had a successful half in terms of getting to the rim, drawing the sixth Lakers foul on him personally to close the half with two of his eight makes in 10 attempts, bringing Cleveland within two points (46-44) when they had trailed by as many as 11 in the half. For point of reference: last season in the same building, the Lakers were down 10 points heading into the third.

Continue reading ‘Lakers 87, Cavs 93: Running Diary’

Lakers 91, Clippers 102: Running Diary

59233458CLICK HERE TO CHECK OUT THE LAKERS’ GAMEDAY PAGE
We took a look at the Lakers – Clippers contest at STAPLES Center while it was happening, entering a thought or three each quarter as the Lakers looked for their fifth straight win.

Inactives
Lakers: Luke Walton
Clippers: Blake Griffin, Kareem Rush, Brian Skinner

Starters
Lakers: Fisher, Bryant, Artest, Odom* and Bynum
Clippers: Baron Davis, Eric Gordon, Rasual Butler, Marcus Camby, Chris Kaman
*Odom got the nod as Pau Gasol missed his second full game after straining his left hamstring in L.A.’s Sunday evening victory over Dallas.

Gasol Getting Better
The most interesting pregame information out of the Lakers’ locker room was that Pau Gasol and his hamstring went through shootaround without pain. To be exact, here’s Phil Jackson’s quote: “He worked pain-free today, so that’s nice to know.” There’s no timetable for his return, but the Spaniard is listed as “day-to-day” with a moderate strain.

59232741First Quarter
10:28 You know when baseball players sometimes try to motion hits into fair territory with their bodies (Carlton Fisk in the playoffs would be the obvious example)? Well, Lamar Odom did so for a three-pointer. But it was even better, because the ball was spinning around the rim, which meant Odom was moving his hips around as if he had a hula hoop on. The triple also halted a 6-0 Clippers run to start the game.

4:38 A positive sign for the Lakers: Ron Artest nailed his second straight three-pointer, a nice development since his shooting touch hadn’t returned in his first game back (3-for-11 against Houston on Tuesday) from a five-game hiatus (concussion).

1:17 Andrew Bynum’s slam, thanks to a pretty pass from Odom, was his third of the quarter. Throw in a tip-in, and he led the Lakers with eight points in a 26-25 advantage.

Second Quarter
9:22 Two battles going on tonight: the basketball contest … and the crowd contest. Clippers and Lakers fans seemed to enjoy seeing who could be louder when respective teams performed well, the volume reaching its highest point when Kobe Bryant up-faked two Clips defenders and dropped a fallaway jumper off glass to bring L.A.* within two.
*This abbreviation always refers to the Lakers. At least on Lakers.com.

2:48 Can’t use the “He must love playing at home!” line for Baron Davis, since he plays for the Clips and all. But the L.A. native had an excellent all-around start to the game, notching seven first quarter assists, twice stripping Lakers players and blocking Shannon Brown’s perimeter shot before finishing at the rim (six points) moments later. His layup put the Clips up 47-42, and his aggressive play dictated that of his team throughout the half.

0.04 The Lakers can generally make up for a poor shooting half (34.1 percent in this one) with a special effort from Bryant, but Kobe was the biggest field goal miss culprit with a 3-for-13 effort, including a miss at the buzzer that allowed the Clippers a 52-43 lead at the break.

59233459Third Quarter
8:00 Struggling from the perimeter, Bryant went straight to the basket for consecutive dunks, the first an alley-oop from Odom and the second a breakaway two-hander after his steal.

5:55 Those flushes appeared to ignite Kobe’s perimeter game, as he pulled up from distance on three consecutive possessions, including a three-pointer and an and-1. All three went down, giving him 27 points and cutting the Clips lead to 10. Moments later, Shannon Brown nailed a three-pointer to cap an 8-0 Lakers run that cut the lead to just four.

0:29.0 Chris Kaman took a contested 20-foot jump shot, Bynum’s hand in his face, and the ball clanked high off the front rim … before bouncing in about two seconds later. The J followed a Davis’ make to give the Clips the last four points of the quarter, and a 79-73 lead heading into the final quarter.

Fourth Quarter
9:55 Bynum, Jordan Farmar and Artest scored back-to-back-to-back buckets to tie the game in just over two minutes, sans Kobe. And we officially had a “Battle for L.A. Basketball” … at least for one regular season game.

6:07 Shannon Brown and Farmar continued to provide a solid bench boost in the first half of the fourth quarter, though the Clips managed a 4-0 run into a timeout to lead 87-83. That would bring Bryant back into the game as the Lakers looked to steal a game they’d trailed almost throughout.

2:55 Craig Smith, a.k.a. the Rhino, scored on 2-of-3 possessions to put the Clippers back in control, holding a 94-85 lead. He got his name from Kevin McHale when McHale was the Wolves’ GM and Smith a rookie, for his charging drives to the hoop. Does this interest you? He’s from Inglewood and went to Fairfax High, if that helps. Alas, the Lakers would get no closer as the Clippers finally snapped a nine-game losing streak to the purple and gold.

The Lakers have a chance to break a long losing streak of their own – eight straight losses at Portland – on Friday night.

Until then, your numbers:

POSTGAME NUMBERS
2 The biggest lead of the ball game for the Lakers, which came in the first quarter.

15 Points off the bench from Shannon Brown, who played well after Derek Fisher struggled to 1-for-3 shooting and four turnovers in 20 minutes. Also Andrew Bynum’s point total, coupled with 14 rebounds for the center’s first double-double since November.

16 More rebounds for Lamar Odom, who’s on a rebounding binge of late. In fact, Odom has double-digit boards in seven straight games, averaging 14.1 per contest.

17 Kobe Bryant’s point total in the third quarter, helping L.A. knock four points of the Clippers’ 10-point halftime advantage. Bryant finished with a game-high 33 points, but needed 30 shots to get there.

20 Advantage in points in the paint for the Clippers (54-34), in likely the stat of the game. It’s quite rare to see the Lakers outscored by even a point in the paint, let alone 20, but the Clips were the aggressors throughout the evening.

38.4 Lakers shooting percentage on the evening, to 46.0 percent from the Clippers.

Lakers 103, Suns 118: Running Diary

59201661CLICK HERE TO CHECK OUT THE LAKERS’ GAMEDAY PAGE
We took a look at the Lakers – Suns contest in Arizona while it was happening, entering a thought or three each quarter as the Lakers looked for their sixth straight road win.

Inactives
Lakers: Ron Artest
Suns: Taylor Griffin, Jason Collins

Starters
Lakers: Fisher, Bryant, Odom*, Gasol and Bynum
Suns: Steve Nash, Jason Richardson, Grant Hill, Channing Frye, Amar’e Stoudemire.
*Odom started his second straight game in place of Ron Artest, out with a concussion. Phil Jackson said that Artest is still experiencing dizziness, but is hopeful he can return to for Tuesday’s game.

Odom Embraces Planet Orange
About a month ago, the Orange County Register’s Kevin Ding wrote about Lamar Odom’s new penchant for scarfing oranges, an idea first proposed by new teammate and old friend Ron Artest. As it turns out, that habit has gone nowhere, as Odom said before the contest that he still goes through at least two oranges on game days. Last year, he was more likely to be found eating peach candy (or, really, any other sweet/sour candy) before games, but no more. Appropriately, the major marketing slogan in Phoenix is “Planet Orange.”

59201615First Quarter
12:00 Phoenix still announces Amare Stoudemire’s self-appointed nickname, S.T.A.T. (Standing Tall And Talented), which I always enjoy. Stoudemire’s charged with defending the bigger Andrew Bynum, while Channing Frye must deal with Pau Gasol. It was the Spaniard who struck first, just as he did in Sacramento last night, with a little turnaround jumper.

6:47 Kobe Bryant appeared to take a blow to his finger while slashing to the hoop and drawing a foul, but after a time out sunk both to put L.A. up 12-10 early. The right elbow strain he suffered against Sacramento almost made us forget about the avulsion fracture on his right index finger.

2:58 Bynum scored six straight points as the Lakers took an 18-13 lead, but didn’t get a touch for the next three possessions as Phoenix reeled off a 7-0 run. As if to prove the point, Bynum got the ball on the next Lakers’ possession and promptly drew a foul, sinking both free throws to get to nine points with six rebounds and a block in by far his best stretch of late.

Second Quarter
8:44 A good start to the second quarter it was not, as Phoenix scored the first seven points before pushing their lead to 10 points. L.A. turned the ball over twice after posting not one turnover in the first quarter, including a failed 2-on-1 fastbreak with Jordan Farmar and Shannon Brown miscommunicating (robbing us of a potential Brown dunk, sadly).

5:09 Joining Bryant in the injured finger department was Odom, who sprained the middle and index fingers on his right hand. He is a lefty, we should note, and returned to the game.

0:09.5 With L.A.’s offense stalling at about 30 percent from the field, Bryant went off, making 7-of-his-last-8 shots to get to 17 points, 13 in the quarter, to bring L.A. within six at the half (56-50). In other news, the Human Slinky performed at halftime – always a crowd pleaser.

59201526Third Quarter
9:58 Like in the second, the Suns came out red hot to start the quarter, nailing 4-of-5 shots (including a pull-up J from Nash) to re-open a 10-point lead. I, however, was still thinking about how the Slinky started its career. What was the motivation?

2:05 Unfortunately for L.A., the Suns didn’t slow down much as the quarter continued, nailing five three pointers to push their lead to 19 points at 87-68. Perhaps “unfortunately” isn’t the operative word, since it was turnovers and missed defensive assignments that led to many of the open looks.

0:28.3 At least one Laker was still playing great. No surprise that it was Bryant, who rolled off L.A.’s final nine points to bring ‘em back within 12 heading into the final quarter.

Fourth Quarter
9:35 Robin Lopez out-maneuvered Gasol for an offensive board and put it back in from the baseline, drawing Phil Jackson’s ire from the bench. It’s not often that Gasol has the team’s worst +/-, yet he did at that point (-16).

6:14 Jared Dudley, a Southern California native (San Diego), hurt the Lakers in the second half with 11 of his 19 points, including three long-distance bombs. The Suns had connected on 11-of-33 triples at that point, not a great percentage, but still damaging to the Lakers.

3:27 Up 16, Phoenix put Nash and Stoudemire back into the contest to seal the deal, and that they did. First, Amare made an and-1 bucket, leading to a pull-up three from Nash on the next possession for the biggest Suns’ lead of the game. Jackson had inserted his subs minutes before the run, content to try things again against Golden State on Tuesday night.

Until then, your numbers:

POSTGAME NUMBERS
(-) 21 Pau Gasol’s plus-minus rating for the night, a shocking number considering his level of skill. The Spaniard managed only 13 points and five rebounds on the evening.

3 Lakers that played over 30 minutes: Kobe Bryant (36:10), Pau Gasol (35:26) and Lamar Odom (barely over, at 30:12).

12 Three-pointers hit by the Suns in 32 attempts, including nine in the second half, to only six makes from the Lakers.

13 In your dubious stat of the night, L.A. managed only 13 assists on 40 field goals, compared with 25 on 43 from Phoenix.

34 Points from Kobe Bryant, who nailed 14-of-26 shots (53.8 percent), and added seven rebounds.

48.9 Field goal percentage for the Suns, quite a departure for the league’s best FG defense in L.A.

Lakers 93, Pistons 81: Running Diary

59182970CLICK HERE TO CHECK OUT THE LAKERS’ GAMEDAY PAGE
We took a look at the Lakers – Pistons contest in Detroit while it was happening, entering a thought or three each quarter as the Lakers looked for their fourth straight road win.

Inactives
Lakers: Luke Walton (17th straight game)
Pistons: Ben Gordon, Richard Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince

Starters
Lakers: Fisher, Bryant, Artest, Gasol and Bynum
Pistons: Rodney Stucky, Chucky Atkins, Jonas Jerebko, Jason Maxiell and Ben Wallace

Phil Jackson Pregame
No need to make notes. CLICK HERE, and you can read Phil’s entire pregame presser.

First Quarter
11:45 Of interest in Jackson’s pregame presser was a quick line about Bryant’s finger, which he said hurt his star more in last night’s game than it did two games ago. In essence, any kind of contact can make Kobe’s finger feel like yours would if you stuck it in hot soup (too random?) … but his opening jumper, from 20 feet, swished through the net.

591830296:08 After a slow start offensively (we’ll chalk it up to the 4 a.m. hotel arrival), L.A. reeled off seven straight points when Artest hit a three-pointer as Ben Wallace refused to close out on the shot, and Gasol hit 1-of-2 free throws courtesy of Bryant’s trailing pass out of a fastbreak to make it 11-9 for the road team. In unrelated news, the Pistons PA announcer remains, by far, the loudest PA guy in the NBA (FYI).

3:49 Lamar Odom came off the bench and promptly committed two personal fouls in 49 seconds, but to be fair, he’d done some good work in the locker room before the game, singing some Bone Thugs & Harmony songs in hope of boosting his squad’s energy. Luke Walton then confirmed that Odom is the best locker room guy he’s ever been around. The quarter ended with Jordan Farmar’s step-back 3 over Villanueva, which put the Lakers up 31-19 after one thanks in part to seven Pistons turnovers, including three Artest steals.

Second Quarter
8:28 It was a better Bynum in Detroit, punctuated early on by a fierce put-back slam of Shannon Brown’s miss, then a big swat of Will Bynum at the other end. Bynum had made all four of his field goal attempts for 10 points, with two rebounds, an assist and two blocks as the Lakers led 40-28.

5:53 Other than Detroit’s plodding pace, here’s the reason an hour had already gone by: 30 combined free throws taken, including 21 by the Lakers. After Kwame Brown’s miss, Odom nailed a corner three and Artest a put-back layup to put L.A. up 47-33.

0:40.5 Both Bryant and Artest made unselfish extra passes to produce an easy layup for Gasol, who used glass to put L.A. up 18 points, 56-38, at the half. The Pistons committed an almost absurd 17 team fouls, putting the Lakers on the line 25 times, for the stat of the half.

Third Quarter
8:57 A nice defensive play from Bynum turned into a Bryant layup as the center blocked his third shot of the game on an Atkins three-point attempt, gathered the ball and then found Bryant streaking ahead of the pack. Meanwhile, the refs stopped calling some of the touch fouls that were earning free throws in the first half.

591830305:02 Artest’s driving dish was corralled by Fisher, who promptly floated a three-point swish into the air to keep the Pistons at bay, down 17. Artest was quietly having a very solid all-around game, including 14 points, six assists (team high), five steals and five boards. Meanwhile, as Artest sunk his fourth field goal, a waiting-to-check-in-at-the-scorer’s-table Odom entertained a light-hearted conversation with a fan about his new bride.

2:38 Adam Morrison, in his first action of the night, immediately stuck a wide-open 18-foot jumper, courtesy of defensive attention on Bryant and Gasol (Jackson’s been doing an admirable job of keeping his bench players engaged by varying the minutes). Morrison was the opposite of thrilled, however, after rimming out an end-of-quarter three-pointer that was also wide open, again courtesy of Bryant’s drawing of attention off penetration. Still, L.A. led by 21 after a 27-24 quarter.

Fourth Quarter
9:28 Bynum stuck a tough turnaround hook over Kwame Brown to get to 16 points on an uber-efficient 7-for-8 from the field, plus seven boards and three blocks to that point as Gasol, Bryant, Fisher and Artest watched from the bench with L.A. up 19.

7:51 D.J. Mbenga completed Jackson’s emptying of the bench by subbing in for Bynum, joining Farmar, Brown, Morrison and Odom on the floor … At least until the 5:59 mark, when Jackson re-inserted Bryant, Gasol, and Artest alongside Josh Powell and Brown with L.A. up 15. Taking no chances to seal off a four-game road winning streak.

1:05 The Pistons went on a big run to climb within eight points of L.A., but Bryant and Gasol combined for back-to-back buckets down the stretch to officially close the door, earning a 93-81 victory for the Lakers that doubled as the team’s fourth consecutive road win.

Next up is a Tuesday tilt with Oklahoma City in L.A., before the Christmas day contest against Cleveland. Until then, your numbers:

POSTGAME NUMBERS
1 Field goal missed by Andrew Bynum in a 7-of-8 performance for 16 points, plus seven boards, three blocks and two assists.

6 Steals for Ron Artest to lead the Lakers, who collectively played the role of thief all evening, finishing with 15 team swipes. Kobe Bryant added five steals of his own to the effort.

19 Points scored by the Pistons in both the first and second quarters. Without Richard Hamilton, Ben Gordon and Tayshaun Prince, perhaps Detroit’s three best scorers, the going was tough.

22 In direct relation to No. 6 above, the Pistons committed 22 turnovers on the evning, to 15 by the Lakers.

25 First half free throw attempts by the Lakers in one of the slowest periods of the season. The Lakers made 19, including five each from Gasol and Artest, while the Pistons managed just 7-of-13.

Lakers 103, Nets 84: Running Diary

Nets CLICK HERE TO CHECK OUT THE LAKERS’ GAMEDAY PAGE
We took a look at the Lakers – Nets contest in New Jersey while it was happening, entering a thought or three each quarter as the Lakers looked for their third straight road win.

Inactives
Lakers: Luke Walton (16th straight game)
Nets: Yi Jianlian, Jarvis Hayes

Starters
Lakers: Fisher, Bryant, Artest, Gasol and Bynum
Nets: Devin Harris, Courtney Lee, Trenton Hassell, Josh Boone and Brook Lopez

Pregame Notes
- Nets big man Brook Lopez ranks first among all NBA centers in scoring at 19.7 points per game, and has amassed 15 double-doubles in 26 games. He had six straight double-doubles heading into tonight’s game. He’s also ranked first at the free throw line (85.1 percent) among all centers.
- Chris Douglas-Roberts ranks fifth among all second-year players in scoring at 16.2 points per game, behind lottery picks Lopez, Eric Gordon, O.J. Mayo and Derrick Rose.
- Pau Gasol has been rebounding like a madman of late, grabbing 20, 20, 16 and 22 in his last four games.
- The Nets rank second in the NBA in road games played to start the season, trailing only the Suns (17). L.A., on the other hand, is playing its eighth game away from STAPLES Center.
- Phil Jackson answered questions about a potential return next season, stating (as usual) that he won’t decide until this season is over, but adding that winning the championship again would positively impact the chances he would return.

Kobe Bryant NJFirst Quarter
10:00 Two minutes into the game, it became clear that the Lakers wouldn’t haven’t much trouble getting good shots as Bynum, Bryant and Gasol all sank relatively open jumpers.

2:07 Bryant scored six early points, then turned on facilitator mode, finding teammates four different times for buckets, including a pretty pass to a cutting Odom (in for Bynum after two quick fouls) in transition that put L.A. up 24-17.

1:42 Adam Morrison, whom we just talked to about staying sharp despite not playing, checked in alongside Jordan Farmar for his first action in five games. With 30.5 seconds remaining in the quarter, Morrison found himself open on the baseline, and stuck his jumper to help L.A. take a 29-21 lead into the second.

Second Quarter
8:51 They call him “Congo Cash” for a reason, folks. D.J. Mbenga, in as Bynum picked up two early fouls to help deal with Brook Lopez, swished a 17-foot jumper.

5:52 When Josh Powell checked in for Mbenga, every active Laker but Sasha Vujacic had checked in for Phil Jackson, 11 in all. Though L.A. largely held onto an eight- or nine-point lead, the Nets rallied to cut it to four with 3:36 remaining.

0:25.4 New Jersey continued its solid second quarter throughout the last five minutes, getting more love from Harris, who sank all seven of his field goal attempts in the period for 17 points, good enough to give the Nets a surprising 48-46 lead. The Lakers were on the lackadaisical side in the period, seemingly content to turn the engines back on in the second half.

Gasol NJThird Quarter
11:00 Andrew Bynum, playing in front of his home state, continued to struggle with foul trouble by committing his fourth early in the third to get Odom back into the game. L.O. would respond with a solid run of play, grabbing five boards and scoring two buckets in the quarter.

4:37 That Bryant would score 11 of L.A.’s 21 points to turn a halftime deficit into a 10-point lead certainly wasn’t a surprise (consider the engine revved up). Against some of the weaker NBA teams, the Lakers will sometimes conserve full energy for portions of the game, but always pick a time to really turn up the defensive pressure and capitalize at the other end. We saw that in the first eight minutes of the third, led by Bryant.

1:24 Consecutive hoops from Bryant and Gasol allowed the Lakers to match their biggest lead of the game at 12 points, capping an impressive stretch of defense that ceded just 16 points from New Jersey in the quarter. L.A. also much-better dealt with NJ’s matchup zone, thanks in part to two three-pointers from Fisher and Bryant’s work along the baseline.

Fourth Quarter
9:05 Bryant earned his third “MVP!” chant of the night after a pretty up-and-under reverse layup off glass, plus the foul, as he reached 29 points, 10 rebounds and five assists in yet another impressive effort.

7:33 Gasol’s 12th rebound was somewhat anticlimactic, after the Spaniard grabbed 20, 20, 16 and 22 boards in his last four games. This one came just before Shannon Brown’s pull-up jumper put the Lakers up 21 points, their biggest lead of the evening.

5:00 New Jersey’s Douglas-Roberts went down really hard on his ankle, rolling it over pretty good before a two-minute injury timeout and your proverbial adding injury to insult. The Lakers continued to cruise, building their lead to 24 points as Jackson emptied his bench.

The final score: Lakers 103, Nets 84, thanks to a 57-36 second half edge.

POSTGAME NUMBERS
3 Lakers with double-digit rebounds, including 10 from Kobe Bryant, 12 off the bench from Lamar Odom and 14 from Pau Gasol.

11 More rebounds grabbed by the Lakers in the second half.

14 Points off the bench for both Jordan Farmar and Odom, both of whom made 7-of-9 shots. Odom added four assists in 25 minutes, and Farmar three in 21 minutes as Jackson praised the effort of both.

29 Points to pace the Lakers, in 35 minutes thanks to 12-of-23 shooting from Bryant, who also added five assists and the aforementioned boards.

37.8 New Jersey’s FG percentage, compared to 49.4 from the Lakers. That’s what happens when you pit the league’s top defense against the league’s worst offense.

Lakers 107, Bucks 106: Running Diary

94568853CLICK HERE TO CHECK OUT THE LAKERS’ GAMEDAY PAGE
We took a look at the Lakers – Bucks contest in Milwaukee while it was happening, entering a thought or three each quarter as L.A. looked to win their second straight road game.

Inactives
Lakers: Luke Walton (15th straight game)
Bucks: Francisco Elson

Starters
Lakers: Fisher, Bryant, Artest, Gasol and Bynum
Bucks: Brandon Jennings, Carlos Delfino, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, Ersan Ilyasova, Andrew Bogut

Hamblen, Jackson Demanding Focus
Phil Jackson mentioned in his pregame interview that the Lakers coaches specifically warned the Lakers that they would lose this game if they didn’t come with energy immediately. While the Bucks don’t look like the NBA’s best team on paper, they’re actually pretty good, particularly at home (9-3). Assistant coach Frank Hamblen reiterated Jackson’s point, saying that he fully expects L.A. to struggle if they’re unable to match Milwaukee’s energy. The lone American-born starter, Brandon Jennings, is from Compton, CA., while the other four hail from Cameroon (Luc Richard Mbah a Moute), Australia (Andrew Bogut), Argentina (Carlos Delfino) and Turkey (Ersan Ilyasova). That’s fun.

94567401_10First Quarter
10:59 I don’t know if there’s anyone associated with the Lakers that doesn’t want Pau Gasol shooting much more than seven times, as he did in Chicago, so his immediate 18-footer (swish) was a pleasant sign. Completely unrelated: there’s a great chili place (“Real Chili”) in Milwaukee. Guaranteed to brighten one’s day.

6:25 After surviving three early three-pointers from the Bucks, the Lakers smartly got the ball inside to Bynum, who dropped in a baby hook before swatting consecutive shots on separate Milwaukee possessions. Bryant followed with a three and Gasol an elbow jumper to cap a quick 7-0 run that gave L.A. a one-point lead.

0:23.8 Milwaukee’s Michael Redd, playing in just his seventh game of the season as he continues to come back from knee surgery, hit a jumper that put the Bucks up a point at quarter’s close. Something else you should know: two of Milwaukee’s players make key cameos in this amazing “Boom Goes the Dynamite!!” college “sportscast*.”
*Andrew Boh-got and Hah-kim Warrick.

Second Quarter
10:42 Phil Jackson specifically mentioned the effort of Jordan Farmar and Shannon Brown as key to last night’s victory in Chicago, and the athletic twosome made an immediate impact in this one with some Farmar D (a swat of Luke Ridnour) and Brown’s two free throws at the other end.

9:55 Milwaukee, continuing to rock nothing but jump shots, got their sixth three-pointer to fall in 11 attempts, meaning 18-of-28 points had come from beyond the arc. Furthermore, they’d yet to get to the free throw line, and despite their arc success led by just two.

2:45 The bad news for the Bucks: Pau Gasol stuffed Bogut at the rim, then finished a dunk after a pretty wrap-around pass from Artest. The good news: mascot Bango appears to have recovered from ACL surgery last season, after a nasty fall through the rim at the All-Star festivities in Phoenix last season. I like him … cool Buck outfit. The half ended with just the second field goal for Jennings, which gave Milwaukee a two point edge (47-45). Gasol had 13 and 11 to pace the Lakers.

94567392_10Third Quarter
7:06 Gasol continued his success with a layup from Kobe’s hand, capping a 6-0 run that put the Lakers up 59-58. As always, L.A. was scoring easily when it managed to get the ball inside.

2:33 The Bucks converted only their second field goal in five minutes, a Charlie Bell three, to cut L.A.’s lead to 70-66 into a time out. The Lakers had steadily flexed their defensive muscles, forcing a bevy of clanked jumpers to outrebound the Bucks 10-5 at that point in the quarter. Gasol had 16 boards already to match his total in Chicago; remember, he had back-to-back 20 rebound games before the win over the Bulls.

0:03.7 If L.A.’s close to the quarter was good, then “Jersey Shore” isn’t an awesome show. The Lakers committed two turnovers and stood and watched while Bryant clanked a fadeaway jumper (7-of-18 through three), then committed fouls on defense to allow five Bucks points that left L.A. with just a 74-71 edge after they had taken over the game midway through the period.

Fourth Quarter
9:18 The Bucks carried some third quarter mojo into the early fourth to take the lead back when Ilyasova hit his second three-pointer to make it 79-78. The Turkish forward, impressive all night, got to 20 points on Milwaukee’s next possession to answer two Kobe free throws.

4:30 L.A. got its first sniff of serious trouble when Ilyasova laid the ball off to Redd for a dunk, his 10th field goal off the bench for 22 points, giving Milwaukee a five-point lead as the crowd exploded into a standing ovation for the first time.

0:31.5 How many times has Derek Fisher come through in the clutch for L.A. (rhetorical)? He did it again with a 17-foot jumper to cap the timeliest of 7-0 runs, putting the Lakers up two. But Andrew Bogut answered at the other end with a move around Gasol, plus the foul, to tie the game, before missing the free throw. Instead of calling time out and letting the Bucks set up, L.A. went to Kobe, who dribbled down the shot clock before missing a 15-footer at the buzzer. Overtime.

94567443_10Overtime
2:38 Gasol continued his monster game with another shot over Bogut, who’s no defensive slouch, to reach 26 points (with 21 boards) and get L.A. within one after four straight Bucks points. His 20-20 effort was L.A.’s first since March 24 of 2008, when Lamar Odom had 23 points and 21 rebounds at Golden State.

1:25 The house began to come down in Milwaukee as Ridnour pulled up in transition and stuck a jumper for a 106-100 Bucks lead. Things looking dire for L.A. But Bryant went off for five straight points, including an and-1 layup, before Artest cleared a defensive rebound with five seconds remaining to give the Lakers a chance…

0:00.1 Kobe. Kobe. Kobe. You know what happened. After catching the basketball nearly exactly in the same spot as his regulation miss, Bryant rose to dagger the Bucks with a silly fadeaway jumper as time expired, from about 15 feet over Charlie Bell.

And with that, L.A. had won its second straight road game, before a Saturday – Sunday back-to-back against New Jersey and Detroit. Until then, your numbers:

POSTGAME NUMBERS
78 Rebounds for Pau Gasol in the last four games, a ridiculous average of 19 per game. His 22 boards were a career high for the Spaniard, who followed up games of 20-20-16. Gasol added 26 points, four assists, four blocks and a steal. Decent.

47.4 Lakers shooting percentage for the game after they caught fire late, erasing a poor 38.9 percent start after one.

39 Points for Kobe Bryant, including seven in overtime.

16 Lakers edge in free throws attempted, showing how many jumpers Milwaukee took. The Bucks did hit 10 threes, to just four from L.A., who got a big one when Artest got his overtime attempt to go down.

7 Turnovers by Kobe Bryant, after eight the night before. Phil Jackson said it has to do with his broken finger, and we’ll go along with that. I think he’s excused after the game winner.