The Lakers played sloppy, shot the ball poorly, Pau Gasol hurt his knee, and they lost the services of Andrew Bynum late. All of that added up to a disappointing 95-90 loss to the Denver Nuggets on Sunday afternoon at Staples Center.
Kobe Bryant scored 28 points, but shot just 10-27 from the floor, and was clearly bothered by the Nuggets’ aggressive defense against him, and the lack of foul calls.
His frustration boiled over and he picked up his 13th technical foul in the second quarter after slamming the court with his hand after a missed shot. He also missed several shots in the fourth quarter, including a key baseline jumper in the final moments with the game still on the line.
The Lakers also got a huge scare when Gasol went down clutching his knee after taking a hard foul on a made basket in the third quarter. He briefly went to the locker room, but did return to finish the game. Team officials have said he will have a precautionary MRI on Monday. Gasol finished the game with 16 points and 12 rebounds, but clearly didn’t have the same impact on the game after injuring his knee.
Bynum also left the game Sunday with seven minutes left after tweaking his knee on a collision with Lamar Odom. He appeared to grab his knee on the bench, but said after the game he was fine and expects to play on Tuesday against Utah. He scored eight points and grabbed a game-high 16 rebounds.
The Lakers led 47-40 at halftime in a very uneven game, with neither team shooting the ball well. The second half was a grind, the Lakers held the lead late in the third until Denver went on a run, and briefly grabbed the advantage. The score was tied at 69 at the end of the quarter.
The Lakers opened up a 75-69 lead early in the fourth, but the Nuggets took over from there. Point guard Raymond Felton scored all 16 of his points in the second half, including several key buckets down the stretch to keep Denver ahead.
With Denver up 91-83, the Lakers scored four straight and had the ball with under a minute left, but Bryant missed a tough baseline shot. The Nuggets split two free throws to go up 92-87. Odom, who had 17 points and seven rebounds off the bench, hit a three-pointer with 16 seconds left to bring the Lakers to within two. After Nene made his first free throw, he missed the second, and Kenyon Martin forced Odom under the basket to grab the putback, which effectively closed the door on the Lakers’ winning streak.
For the game the Lakers shot just 42.9% (36-84) from the floor and 4-18 (22.2%) from beyond the arc. They outrebounded Denver 45-44, but were undone by the 20 turnovers they committed. The Nuggets shot just 43.9% (36-82) from the field themselves, and turned the ball over 17 times as well.
Danilo Gallanari led the Nuggets with 22 points and seven rebounds. Kenyon Martin had 18 points and eight rebounds, and Nene scored 12 to go along with seven boards.
The loss dropped the Lakers 2.5 behind the Spurs for first in the Western Conference with six games left. The Lakers are now 17-2 since the All-Star break.
The champs’ next game is Tuesday night at Staples Center against the Utah Jazz, who were eliminated from the playoff race on Friday by the Lakers. After Tuesday’s game, the Lakers go on the road at Golden St. on Wednesday, and then Portland on Friday.
For the first 24 minutes of Friday night’s game in Utah, it seemed like the Lakers were destined to give back the game they gained from Thursday’s nights hard-fought victory against Dallas.
But these Lakers are just playing at a whole other level. The champs rallied from 17 points down, overwhelming the undermanned Utah Jazz in the second half, and scored a 96-85 at EnergySolutions Arena, their ninth straight win, and 17th in the last 18 games.
Kobe Bryant led the Lakers with 21 points and Lamar Odom and Pau Gasol each had 16. Gasol also added a team-high nine rebounds in the win.
Utah jumped on the Lakers early, led 26-13 in the first quarter, and then put together an 11-0 run in the second quarter to build a 41-24 lead. But that’s when the tide began to shift. Los Angeles fought back with an 18-7 run to close the half, and trailed just 48-42 at the break.
The second half was all Lakers, as Derek Fisher’s three-pointer finally got the Lakers even at 62 with just over four minutes left in the third quarter. Moments later they took the lead for good when Kyrylo Fesenko was called for goaltending on a Shannon Brown shot. The Lakers led 71-64 after three.
The lead stretched to 83-65 early in the fourth, and the Lakers held off the Jazz the rest of the way for what turned out to be a fairly easy victory. Los Angeles outscored Utah 52-35 in the second half.
Utah played without three of their key players, as Andrei Kirilenko, Devin Harris, and Raja Bell all missed the game with injuries. The Lakers played without Matt Barnes, who was suspended by the NBA for his role in Thursday night’s melee with Dallas.
C.J. Miles, who had been in a shooting slump, scored 13 points in the first half for the Jazz, and finished with a game-high 24. Al Jefferson added 17 points and 10 rebounds, and Paul Milsap chipped in with 16 points.
The Lakers shot just 39.4% from the field in the first half, but finished the game at 47.9% (34-71). They also held the Jazz to 41.5% (34-82) from the floor, and 2-10 (20.0%) from the three-point line. The Jazz did outrebound the Lakers 44-39, including 15-6 on the offensive end, but held a much bigger advantage (28-18) at the end of the first half.
The win, combined with San Antonio’s sixth straight loss at Houston on Friday, brought the Lakers to within 1.5 games for first place in the Western Conference, with seven remaining. The Lakers’ current 17-1 record is the highest post-All-Star break winning percentage (.944) in league history. The Jazz are second, going 31-4 (.885) after the All-Star break back in 1997.
The loss eliminated Utah from the Western Conference playoff race, marking the first time a team started 15-5 and 27-13 and didn’t make the playoffs.
The Lakers now return home for a Sunday afternoon battle at Staples Center against the new-look Denver Nuggets, who have been playing very well since trading their superstar forward Carmelo Anthony last month. The two teams have split their two meetings this year, with the Lakers winning the last game 107-97 in Denver back on January 21.
Link: Lakers @ Jazz Box Score
There were five ejections and four technical fouls at Staples Center on Thursday night, but nothing could stop the Lakers methodical second half romp over the Dallas Mavericks 110-82, as they won the battle for second place in the Western Conference.
Kobe Bryant scored a game-high 28 points, and Andrew Bynum had 18 points and 13 rebounds as the Lakers moved their record to an NBA-best 16-1 since the All-Star break. They’ve also won eight straight.
In a playoff-like atmosphere, with the Lakers running away in the fourth quarter, the Mavs’ Jason Terry pushed Steve Blake under the basket, sparking a skirmish between the players on the court.
Matt Barnes, Blake, Terry, and Brendan Haywood were all ejected, with Terry picking up a flagrant-2 foul. Minutes later, Shannon Brown was ejected after another shoving match that followed a hard foul on Pau Gasol with the game well out of reach.
Neither of the incidents could take away what was a dominating performance by the world champs, who held Dallas to just 31 points in the second half, including closing the game on a 19-2 run. The two teams could face each at some point during the playoffs.
Gasol chipped in with 20 points and six rebounds, and Lamar Odom had 16 points and 11 rebounds off the bench, scoring 11 straight points at the end of the third quarter and the beginning of the fourth, that turned a 79-70 game into a 90-70 lead. Ron Artest poured in 13 points.
The Lakers led a tight game 54-51 at halftime, and then slowly started to pull away late in the third quarter. After Odom’s 11-0 run late in the game, Dallas responded after the first flare up to get to within 91-80. Bryant was reinserted into the game to restore order, scoring six straight points and the game was never close again.
For the game, the Lakers shot 44.7% (38-85) from the field, and hit 28-39 (71.8%) from the foul line. They outrebounded the Mavericks 52-47, and committed just seven turnovers. Dallas shot a woeful 36.1% (30-83) from the floor, and a miserable 6-26 (23.1%) from beyond the arc. They scored just 12 points in the final quarter.
Dirk Nowitski led the visitors with 27 points and 13 rebounds, one of only three Mavs in double figures. Peja Stojakovic had 13 and J.J. Barea had 10 points off the bench. Before getting tossed from the game, Terry hit just 2-9 shots for five points. Nowitski was clearly the lone bright spot on this night.
The win put the Lakers 1.5 games ahead of Dallas for second place in the Western Conference, and two games ahead in the loss column. They also hold the tiebreaker having beaten Dallas 2-1 this season. They are also only 2.5 games behind the San Antonio Spurs for first in the West after Boston’s 107-97 in San Antonio Thursday.
The Lakers play tomorrow night in Utah against the struggling Jazz, having just finished a 7-0 homestand. They’ll return back to Staples Center for a Sunday for an afternoon game against the surging Denver Nuggets.
The Lakers just keep rolling right along towards the playoffs, as they took care of the New Orleans Hornets 102-84 at Staples Center on Sunday night.
Kobe Bryant, who scored 79 points in his previous two games, poured in a game-high 30 points to go along with five assists, as the Lakers won their seventh straight game, and have gone 15-1 since the All-Star break.
Los Angeles jumped on the David West-less Hornets early, and led 30-19 after the first quarter. After getting up by as many as 18 points in the first half, the Lakers settled for a halftime lead of 57-41.
The Hornets played much better in the second half, and were able to rally back behind the inspired play of Carl Landry, who is starting in place of West. New Orleans got to within six points in the fourth quarter at 78-72, before the Lakers went on a 24-12 run to close the game, and win going away by 18.
Pau Gasol had a big night with 23 points, 16 rebounds, and four blocked shots. Andrew Bynum battled foul trouble all game long, and played just over 21 minutes, but he did have 13 points and five boards in his limited action. Ron Artest was the only other Laker in double figures with 11 points on 4-6 shooting from the field.
For the game, the Lakers shot 41-85 (48.2%) from the field, 17-21 (81.0%) from the foul line, but only 3-17 (17.6%) from beyond the arc, with Bryant hitting just 1-6 from deep. The Lakers won the rebound battle 44-43 and committed just nine turnovers.
New Orleans struggled shooting the ball all night, finishing at 40.2% on 35-87 from the floor. They were also a miserable 3-17 (17.6%) from the three-point line, with Marco Belinelli convering just 1-7 from long range.
Landry led the Hornets with 24 points and 10 rebounds playing almost 44 minutes. Emeka Okafor had 14 points and 11 rebounds, and Chris Paul had an off night scoring just 10 points on 4-9 shooting, but he did have nine assists. No other Hornet scored in double figures.
The win put the Lakers’ record at 53-20, and they are one game ahead of the Dallas Mavericks for second place in the Western Conference. The two teams will get together on Thursday night for a battle at Staples Center. San Antonio dropped their third straight and are now 57-16, just four games ahead of the Lakers for the conference lead with nine games remaining.
The champs will get three days off before they take on Dallas, and will try to complete a 7-0 homestand. Sometimes long layoffs can be a bad thing for a team playing well, but the Lakers know they have to be at their best in what will surely be a playoff-like atmosphere on Thursday. The Mavericks and Lakers have split their first two games this season, with the Lakers beating the Mavericks 96-91 in their last meeting in Dallas.
Box Score: Lakers vs. Hornets Box Score