Below is a running diary of L.A.’s Tuesday evening contest against the Brooklyn Nets, with some comments drawn from our @LakersReporter Twitter account, and a few more details in case you missed any of the action:
Lakers: Morris, Bryant, World Peace, Gasol and Howard
Nets: D. Williams, J. Johnson, G. Wallace, K. Humphries, B. Lopez
L.A. couldn’t have started Mike D’Antoni’s first game on the sideline
any better, as aggressive defense from positions 1-5 helped spark a 10-0
run capped by a corner three from Metta World Peace. It was fitting, as
MWP collected two steals to spark the D. However, out of a Nets time
out, L.A. turned the ball over on consecutive trips to help spark an 8-0
run from the visitors.
0:00 Kobe Bryant really wanted to deliver a victory in his the
first game for his new coach on the sideline, not just being aggressive
on offense (hitting his first five shots) but by staying on his
teammates. When Pau Gasol didn’t roll to the hoop out of a pick and roll
to Bryant’s liking, Kobe lit him up, the Spaniard nodding and going
over to pat Bryant on the butt. The lead after one was 29-23, L.A.
shooting 60 percent from the field, holding Brooklyn to 45 percent,
though four turnovers helped the Nets stay close.
11:00 Back-to-back 3′s from the top of the key from CJ Watson
allowed the Nets to tie it at 29 a minute into the 2nd. Brooklyn
continued to control the play for the opening half of the second, until
the second MWP tied the score at 42 when the starters returned. His 11
points at that point matched Bryant’s, while Howard’s dunk on the next
trip down gave him eight.
The third World Peace three of the half allowed L.A. to go into
halftime trailing by only a point, MWP’s 14 points trailing only
Howard’s 15, highlighted by three dunks after he up-faked Nets
defenders. Brooklyn managed to break the first quarter rhythm the Lakers
developed in part due to frequent trips to the line, 16 attempts
besting L.A. by five, and this a Lakers’ team that leads the NBA in free
throw attempts at nearly 30 per evening.
2:28 L.A. retook the lead on a few occasions, as with Antawn
Jamison’s layup off a nice drive and dish from Chris Duhon, but the Nets
were just stingy enough in screen/roll coverage and hitting just enough
shots on the other end to keep things tight. Jerry Stackhouse, still in
the NBA, drained a jumper on the other end as an answer to his fellow
Tar Heel’s hoop for the ninth lead change of the night.
Back-to-back buckets from Lakers mainstays Bryant and Gasol allowed a
76-73 lead heading into the fourth quarter, a strong defensive finish to
the third keeping Brooklyn in check. Howard was huge inside, totaling
18 points and 13 boards with three swats, while Gasol and Bryant had
five assists apiece.
5:15 A Kris Humphries free throw followed a Deron Williams jumper
(Howard called for an off-ball push), their biggest lead of the game at
84-78. L.A. continued to kill itself at the line, hitting only around
30 percent as a team until some late Bryant makes pushed the percentage
to 51.4 percent (19 of 37). Howard made only 7 of 19, accounting for the
lion’s share, but did at least make 2 of 4 down the stretch when the
Nets played Hack-a-Howard. That also helped the Lakers get in the bonus,
of which they took advantage when Brook Lopez went over Gasol’s back at
the 2:37 mark. Gasol hit 1 of 2, capping a 9-2 run that gave L.A. an
0:00 L.A. came up with the key defensive stops down the
stretch to hold onto a 95-90 win, the Nets scoring only 17 points in the
fourth, just six of those since the Humphries free throw in the final
5:15. And Bryant hit all six of his free throws in the final minute to
seal the deal. Howard’s 23-point, 15-board, 4-block performance came
despite those 12 misses at the line; Bryant totaled 25 points and five
assists; Gasol’s seven dimes led the way, and he added a 17-point,
11-board double-double, while World Peace totaled 17 points and eight
boards, with four of the team’s six triples.
The Lakers have little time to rest, as they fly to Sacramento
tonight for the second home-road back to back of the season. We’ll see