The Kings game was imperfect but it was an improvement.
Post-Game: Lakers 112 - Kings 103
- About 15 seconds into the second half the whistle blows and it looks like Andrew Bynum has picked up his fifth foul. He dejectedly walks to the bench and goes to sit down and Lamar Odom pulls off his warm-ups to check in - never mind that the call was made on Derek Fisher. False alarm.
- Just as they started the game - the Lakers look focused on defense and are able to extend to an 11-point lead - and then 13.
- Too many free throws tonight - the game's tempo has been constantly interrupted. With the third quarter coming to a close, its' already 52 attempts combined.
- Kobe had a big quarter (25 points overall) and the Lakers are back up to 50.8%. The Kings only scored 18 to LA's 32 and are shooting 42.6%.
- After three Lakers 84 - Kings 72.
- The Lakers second unit looks cohesive - they're trading baskets which works for the Lakers with a double-digit lead. Tonight has been a step forward for the Lakers after a number of games of murky play.
- Bynum doesn't draw his fifth foul until there's eight minutes left in the game despite starting the half with four. The Kings are making a charge - let's see if the Lakers have learned anything as of late.
- Kobe's got some sort of knee support on his right leg - something to ask about - a sleeve or something. Forgive me if the technical term escapes me . . .
- Something we saw the other night - Phil moves Bryant up to small forward with Sasha and Farmar in the backcourt.
- Udrih's three-pointer with 5:09 left gets the Kings within seven. Jackson adjusts and goes with his starters - Andrew Bynum has been asking to finish games. Let's see if he gets the chance (from Phil - not to mention his five fouls).
- Never mind on Bynum - he earns his sixth - with a flagrant foul (level one) on Salmons.
- LA up by six with 3 1/2 minutes left. Spencer Hawes hits a three to cut the lead in half. After a Fisher jumper - the Lakers are lucky to have Udrih miss a pair at the stripe.
- Bryant appears to put the game away with a monster two-handed jam after breaking Salmons ankles. I don't remember seeing that particular dunk from Bryant in a game before - he's more of one-hander. He hits the free throw for five-straight points to give the Lakers a 10-point lead with 1:36 on the clock.
- With the Kings stuck on 98, the crowd desperately changes "We want tacos!
- When Udrih hits a three it's as if the Lakers lost at the buzzer - boos, fans leaving the arena. Forget that LA won - no free tacos.
- It wasn't perfect but the Lakers get the win - and it was a better effort - but there's still a lot that needs to happen for the Lakers to get back to the NBA Finals.
- More from the locker rooms . . .
Post-Game: Final Thoughts
- The Lakers improve to 19-3, top in the Western Conference and third overall behind the 22-2 Boston Celtics and 20-3 Cleveland Cavaliers. The Kings drop to 6-17 which puts them 12th in the West and 7 1/2 games behind the eighth seeded Phoenix Suns.
- Bryant finished with 32 points on 11-21 shooting. Gasol chipped in 18 points and 11 boards. Bynum missed the double-double with eight points and 10 boards (fouling out after 24 minutes).
- The Kings got 26 from John Salmons - who always takes it to the Lakers. Beno Udrih was second with 17.
- Coach Phil Jackson admitted the game was a step in the right direction but more than once the Lakers let go of their lead - tonight most of the damage was self inflicted with 14 missed free throws (21-35).
- Putting Walton into the starting lineup to improve ball movement seemed productive - Walton was high man for the game with eight assists (without a turnover). I spoke to Luke who - after some prodding - acknowledged that he's nice to be around now that he's finally playing.
- There seemed to be enough material tonight for an article on the team - the question is finding time to put it together in the midst of an extremely busy schedule. Basically Derek Fisher called a team meeting - to make sure the Lakers don't go the way of the Dallas Cowboys. It's a long season and it'd been pretty obvious to anyone paying close attention to the team that they were somewhat stuck in the mud. Fisher reminded his teammates that it's a long season but that the habits that they set now are vital. It's not about points allowed, X's and O's, etc - but effort and playing united with purpose. The Lakers had lost some of that in recent weeks and both Fisher, Phil, Pau and Kobe all agreed (in separate conversations) that today was a step (albeit an imperfect one) in the right direction.
- The Lakers play again on Sunday at STAPLES Center against the Minnesota Timberwolves. The Kings return home to Arco Arena tomorrow night, hosting the New York Knicks.