Below is a running diary of L.A.’s Saturday evening road contest against the New Orleans Hornets, the first of a seven-game road trip, with some comments drawn from our @LakersReporter Twitter account, and a few more details in case you missed any of the action:
Lakers: Fisher, Bryant, Artest, Gasol and Bynum
Hornets: C. Paul, M. Belinelli, Q. Pondexter*, D. West, A. Gray**
*Pondexter was starting for the injured Trevor Ariza (ankle), and Gray for Emeka Okafor (oblique). Backup center Jason Smith was also out due to sickness.
8:34 Hornets Coach Monty Williams opted to use Marco Belinelli, not Trevor Ariza, to guard Kobe Bryant in the past two Lakers wins this season, but tonight used rookie Quincey Pondexter in the early goings. The result was six points in the first few minutes, two on jumpers plus two free throws, to give the Lakers a 10-4 edge.
4:07 It was all working on the offensive end for the Lakers, who took advantage of their mismatches while watching Gasol and Bynum go a collective 6-of-9 from the field for six points apiece, which along with Bryant’s eight had produced a 20-12 early lead. The only problem for the Lakers seemed to be deciding which mismatch to exploit. Meanwhile, the Hornets were hitting a few jump shots, but had no low post scoring threat to counter those of the Lakers.
0:00 A businesslike first quarter ended with the Lakers up 27-19, behind efficient offense (55 percent shooting) and steady defense. Gasol had 10 points and three assists, while Bryant and Bynum combined for 14 more points.
9:30 When asked before the game what he wants most out of Bynum, Phil Jackson stuck with his usual answer of defense and rebounding, so it must have pleased P-Jax to see Bynum bring down three boards in the first two minutes of the second to reach five in the game. That said, two straight defensive breakdowns brought out a different emotion in Jackson, who called time out with his team up 29-25.
2:45 Gasol had it all working on offense, reaching 18 points after a one-handed dunk courtesy of Fisher’s pretty feed. He was 8-for-10 on the evening at that point, pushing the Lakers to a 48-37 lead. Fisher then grabbed a steal and fed Bryant in transition, who pulled up for one of his momentum-seizing triples and swished one home to reach 16 points of his own.
0:00 The Lakers had really controlled the whole half, but a momentary lapse in the final two minutes allowed the Hornets a 13-5 run that trimmed a once 14-point lead down to six (56-50) at the break. Gasol and Bryant had both lived up to their all-star status, however, combining for 37 points on 14-of-20 field goals.
9:50 Derek Fisher, the holder of the league’s Iron Man title having played an NBA-best 462 consecutive games, looked to have hurt himself while banging knees with Paul and his huge knee brace. Fish, after a minute or so on the ground, got up under his own power, walked to the bench, and then returned to the floor. Apparently it takes a lot more to keep him off the floor, which hasn’t happened since April 13, 2005.
5:36 Bryant continued a good offensive night with a jumper to keep the Lakers up eight points, though the Hornets had begun to heat up from the perimeter, particularly Chris Paul.
0:00 … Change "heat up” to "catch complete fire,” as they hit 6-of-8 three-pointers in the quarter, 13-of-20 shots overall, to take a 82-81 lead. This all despite Gasol entering Black Swan mode, scoring 13 of his season-high 32 points in the period from all over the place. Credit the Hornets for making all those shots — led by Paul’s three triples and 13 points in the quarter plus his 14 total assists — but there wasn’t much the Lakers could have done, as long jumpers are what they’d prefer be taken.
8:48 Consecutive hoops from Shannon Brown and Bryant (25 points) put the Lakers back on top at 86-84, New Orleans trying to maintain the burst of energy they held throughout the third quarter. The Lakers were continuing to get good looks on offense, shooting 54 percent in the game, but the on-fire third from N.O. had them at 57.4 percent for the game. Jackson was giving Gasol a breather, but keeping Bryant, Odom and Bynum in the game to start the fourth.
5:52 After two Brown free throws, the Lakers held a 92-88 lead as Gasol and Paul checked back into the game following a time out. The Hornets had taken their first lead of the game at the start of the quarter, but would they have enough energy to avoid a season sweep on their home floor by the Lakers?
2:49 A three-pointer by Bryant and tip in from Odom off Bryant’s miss on the next possession quickly put the Lakers back up five points after N.O. had tied the game at 92. The three was created by Artest, just in the game for Brown, as Ron Ron passed up a good look inside to give Bryant enough time to set up. Then came two straight defensive plays from Fisher, who first stripped West and then drew a charge on Paul on the perimeter, plus Gasol’s block of a David Andersen three (he was 5-of-5 from the field at that point) allowing the Lakers to keep that lead with 31 seconds left and nine seconds on the shot clock.
0:00 Gasol and Bryant would add two free throws apiece to secure a 101-95 victory to start off their seven-game trip, combining for 66 points in a solid all-around effort.
34 Season-high points for Pau Gasol, who had scored 32 after three quarters on on-fire 13-of-17 field goals before adding two late free throws. Kobe Bryant wasn’t far behind with 32 points himself.
13 Points conceded by the Lakers in the fourth quarter, good enough to secure a victory and a season sweep at New Orleans.
8 Steals for the Lakers, compared with zero for the Hornets. Related: L.A. committed only four turnovers for the game.
6 Three-pointers hit by the Hornets in the third quarter, turning what looked like an easy victory for the Lakers into a slug fest by outscoring L.A. 32-25 in the period.
4 Free throws attempted by the Hornets, compared with L.A.’s 27, showing how much the Hornets relied on jump shots.