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Below is a running diary of L.A.’s Thursday evening road contest at Utah, the Lakers looking for their ninth straight win, 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
Jazz: E. Watson*, C.J. Miles, P. Millsap, A. Jefferson, K. Fesenko
*The depleted Jazz were missing starting point guard Devin Harris, acquired in the trade for Deron Williams, as well as Andrei Kirilenko, Mehmet Okur and Ronnie Price to injury.

5:22 A pumped up group of Jazz players came out in a prideful manner, knowing that one more loss officially eliminated them from playoff contention and with so many teammates on the shelf, building an 18-11 lead before Bynum missed two free throws. The Lakers, who arrived at about 2:30 a.m. the night before after beating up on Dallas at home, skipped shootaround in order to sleep and looked to be just trying to stem the early tide.

1:27 The Jazz started with energy, then brought some youthful exuberance off the bench with rookies Gordon Hayward and Derrick Favors, the No. 3 overall pick converting a jumper to put the Jazz up 28-18.

0:00 Yet Fisher had scored five straight points before Favors connected, and Gasol and Odom combined for four points to close the quarter on a 9-2 run, cutting Utah’s lead to six at 28-22. To use the tired boxing cliche (wait, why use it after making fun of it?), the Lakers had essentially taken the first punch and stood up just fine.

9:45 Or not. Instead of building on that momentum, L.A. regressed, allowing a 7-0 Jazz run to start the second, creating a 13-point hole. Hayward and Favors combined for five of those points, and the Lakers weren’t executing at all on offense, hitting only eight of their first 24 shots. Here’s a game where the extra energy boost Matt Barnes always provides could help, but he was of course suspended for "escalating” the fourth quarter, uh, situation with Dallas.

5:31 The lead was 15 halfway through the quarter, with several tweets coming into our @LakersReporter account wondering what was wrong (!!!!!). But being down in the first half of a game at Utah wasn’t a situation that was going to rattle the Lakers, who’d been around the block once or twice. Phil Jackson gave Bryant extra rest in the second despite the deficit, knowing he’d really need the legs in the second half. That said, getting zero collective points from subs Brown, Blake and Walton in 22 total minutes didn’t help.

2:05 With Utah somehow outscoring the Lakers 30-8 in the paint, the Lakers were at least getting to the foul line, with four straight from the line (12-of-17 total with four misses from Bynum) plus Fisher’s jumper getting L.A. to within 10. Then four more points, all from Bryant (13 points to lead all scorers), capped a 10-0 run. The Lakers showed what they can do when simply turning up the defensive intensity, holding the Jazz to just one field goal in the final four minutes and creating 10 straight misses.

11:40 Anyone know how to say "Big Tree” in Ukrainian? Fesenko wrapped up Bryant pretty good, forcing Kobe to walk it off for a good 10 seconds before taking two more free throws, returning to the place at which he’s spent a ton of time in recent games. L.A.’s past four wins, in fact, have seen Bryant go to the line an average of 12.75 times per game. He’d need six more attempts to surpass that mark.

9:01 Felled yet again by the Ukrainian tree, this time with a knee-on-knee collision to Bryant’s right knee … of course, Bryant just shook it off as the Lakers took a time out for him to walk around. Rumor has it he’s been able to play through pain once or twice in his career. L.A., meanwhile, would cut Utah’s lead in half with an Artest triple out of the break (54-51).

Wait … more Ukrainian Tree action?? Kobe, apparently loving going at the huge center, took more hard contact while attempting to jump over him at the rim; Fesenko got hit with the PF, plus a technical either for flipping the ball in Bryant’s direction after it came off the rim.

1:00 The Lakers of 16-1 since the All-Star break returned for the third quarter, shutting down Utah’s offense and moving the ball with ease at the other end, going up four points at 68-64 on Blake’s pretty alley-oop pass to a sprinting Spaniard. Since that four-minute mark of the second, L.A. had outscored Utah 36-16 to take control of the game.

8:44 It didn’t stop there, L.A. running out to a 12-1 burst to start the fourth, pushing its lead all the way to 18 points at 83-65. The group of Blake, Brown, Walton, Odom and Bynum was getting steals, creating open layups, blocking shots, nailing threes and whatever else. Odom actually nearly copied his three-point shooting feat from Dallas the night before, dropping long ones to close the third and open the fourth (he’d hit three around the quarters for a personal 9-0 run to help put the Mavs away).

6:00 The Jazz hadn’t given up, however, prompting Jackson to put his starters back in with six minutes to go, looking to push L.A. to its first 9-game winning streak of the season. Responding immediately were Artest and Bryant, with respective fadeaway and three-point jumpers to push the lead to 17.

0:00 Utah kept playing to the whistle, cutting L.A.’s lead down to 11 with a final hoop, but the damage had been done. That’s seventeen of 18 since the break, with the Spurs slumping in a big way in what should be a photo finish out West. Your numbers:

1.5 Games back of San Antonio after the Spurs lost a sixth straight game on Friday night, and the Lakers won a ninth straight. The Spurs looked to have things all but sewn up, but a look at their brutal schedule to close March (plus Tim Duncan’s ankle injury) left the door slightly ajar. Now, the door’s ready to be kicked down, with L.A. just one back in the loss column and an April 12th showdown looming.

9 Straight wins for the Lakers, their longest streak of the year. L.A. opened the season at 8-0 and won their first eight out of the All-Star break before falling to Miami, then starting the current streak two nights later in Dallas.

10 Straight Jazz misses forced by the Lakers to close the first half, allowing L.A. to go on a 10-0 run at the other end.

23 Margin between L.A. and Utah in a 39-16 run across the end of the second (10-0) and entire third quarter (29-16) that turned the game on its head. Then came an 8-0 run to start the fourth quarter, the game then essentially over.

30 Points in the paint for the Jazz in the first half to just 10 from the Lakers, their aggressiveness going to the rim allowing for an early lead. That changed markedly in the second half, when L.A. closed up its own lane and made some music in that of the Jazz.

Views: 475 | Added by: KobeBryant | Date: 03/April/2011 | Comments (1)

Below is a running diary of L.A.’s Thursday evening home contest against the Dallas Mavericks, the Lakers looking for their eighth straight win, 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
Mavericks: J. Kidd, R. Beaubois, S. Marion, D. Nowitzki, T. Chandler

8:33 Jason Kidd’s second three in the early minutes put Dallas up 10-6, but the more interesting element in the game from a tactical standpoint was Dallas guarding Bryant with the 6-2 Rodrigue Beaubois, who starts for his offense alongside Kidd. Last time these teams met, Shawn Marion spent a lot of time on Bryant, and Ron Artest punished Jason Kidd, but with Beaubois on him, Bryant took four shots in four minutes, hitting two.

5:12 At the first extended time out, both teams were hot offensively, shooting identical 8-of-14 lines (57 percent) in an 18-17 lead for the Mavs thanks to an extra three-pointer. Bryant and Gasol had six points apiece for L.A., while both Kidd and Dirk Nowitzki had the same amount for Dallas. The Mavs, who beat the Clippers 106-100 in the same building on the previous night, looked sharp, while the Lakers, off since Sunday, were there on offense but not yet on D.

2:38 Mavs owner Mark Cuban had made some comments about wanting Ron Artest to make decisions and shoot the ball, but Artest had the last laugh in the first quarter by assisting on five of his team’s 11 field goals. Meanwhile, Bynum punished the smaller Tyson Chandler in the paint with consecutive hoops, this after Phil Jackson had commented on Chandler not being able to handle Bynum’s strength after L.A.’s March 12 win at Dallas. L.A. would take a 28-26 lead out of the period.

9:18 A solid defensive effort from subs Matt Barnes, Steve Blake and Shannon Brown, all flying around the perimeter, helped hold Dallas to just two points in the first three minutes while Barnes and Bynum had back-to-back hammer dunks at the other end to bring Bryant, Fisher and Co. out of their seats. Bynum and Gasol were a combined 8-for-11 at that point, the length getting to Dallas once again.

6:00 L.A. controlled the first half of the quarter until Dallas had a quick hot streak on offense, getting six points from J.J. Barea and two triples from Peja Stojakovic, the first of which banked in off glass despite being launched from the baseline, to turn a 37-32 deficit into a 40-38 lead.

2:49 But back came the Lakers, inspired by Ron Artest, going on a 7-0 run to take a six-point lead on Gasol’s and-1. Artest sank a long two and came up with a steal, continuing to play inspired ball against a team he felt slighted him in that March 12 game by defending him with Kidd. A Bryant three pushed the lead to seven, though Dallas trimmed off four points to get within three at 54-51 at the break. Two related stats: Dallas out-rebounded L.A. 25-18, but seven second quarter steals (after none in the first quarter) for the Lakers allowed the Mavs more defensive board opportunities.

10:26 With Artest’s third three and two Gasol free throws, L.A. opened its biggest lead at 60-52. The triple came courtesy of Bryant’s four assist, a passing lane opening up when the Mavs had to collapse to help Beaubois on Kobe. Moments later, the margin reached double digits for the first time on a Gasol tip-in of Bryant’s miss.

4:36 A Kidd strip of Bryant was just the fifth turnover of the game for the home team. But after Dirk’s tough J over Odom, Bryant responded with a difficult baseline jumper, plus a foul on the swiping-at-the-ball Kidd, to put the Lakers back up by 10. Generally speaking, L.A. had controlled the game since early in the second quarter.

0:00 A great close to the third was keyed by Odom, who nailed a corner three to make it 82-70, a lead preserved on the other end by Bynum’s swat in the lane. Odom had outplayed fellow Sixth Man of the Year candidate Jason Terry, going for seven points, seven boards and two assists to five points, three dimes and a board for Terry … who had played 10 more minutes than Odom (25 to 15).

11:20 Did we mention Lamar Odom had been big in the third? Well, he opened the fourth by sinking back-to-back three-pointers, scoring nine points all on triples in a minute’s time to suddenly put the Lakers up 18 points at 88-70.

9:23 And then things got completely insane. It all started when Terry unnecessarily shoved Blake out of bounds. Blake, who never backs down to anyone, let alone a guard (he usually scraps with centers) got right up and into Terry’s face. Enter Barnes, who came in trying to support Blake, who then pushed Terry. Enter Brendan Haywood, who then shoved Barnes. It was about to end until a Mavs assistant coach (Terry Stotts) grabbed Barnes, trying to get him away, and Barnes took exception before shaking Stotts off him. Stotts fell into a fan courtside … just craziness. Eventually, it all ended, with all four players being ejected and Terry hit with a flagrant two foul. The Mavs picked Theo Ratliff to shoot the free throws since Blake was out, the same player activated only because Derrick Caracter was sent to the D-League and wasn’t going to see any action, and he missed both. THEN, Dallas went on a 5-0 run to cut L.A.’s lead to 12. And now my fingers are tired.

5:55 The lead was soon back at 20, however. Kobe led the charge, reaching 27 points with six straight, and moments later the insane six minutes of action got a bow on top as Artest scored with one hand through Peja Stojakovic (you know how he does it while sealing space for an offensive board), then kissed his bicep. Naturally.

0:00 It was all over at that point. Odom got a standing O when checking out with 16 points and 10 boards in his 23 outstanding minutes, and three minutes later the game was over, L.A. taking a 110-82 victory to win the season series with Dallas 2-1. Your numbers:

2.5 Games behind the Spurs for first in the Western Conference after L.A.’s 16th win to just one loss since the All-Star break. The Spurs have lost five games in a row. The two teams play on April 12. Meanwhile, L.A. (54-20) improved to two losses ahead of Dallas (53-22) in the loss column.

3 Three-pointers nailed by Lamar Odom in a one-minute area around the end of the third and start of the fourth quarters, turning a nine-point lead into an 18-point blow out. Odom was terrific all night, going for 16 points, 11 rebounds and three assists. His main opposition to Sixth Man of the Year honors, Jason Terry, had only five points and three assists on 2-of-9 shooting before being ejected in the fourth quarter…

5 … And Terry was just one of five players to get tossed. See the Running Diary for a description of some fourth quarter shenanigans, but it all started when Terry unnecessarily shoved Steve Blake down from behind.

11 Free throws made by Kobe Bryant en route to a game-high 28 points, plus five boards and four assists in 37 minutes.

27.5 Shooting percentage for the Mavs in the second half, L.A. stepping up its defense in a big way.

Views: 432 | Added by: KobeBryant | Date: 03/April/2011 | Comments (1)