We're media talking heads. Literally.
Same as it ever was...
The breakdown is below the jump.
There were good moments over the first 24 minutes of Tuesday night's 122-99 win over the Pacers at Staples. The Lakers methodically used their size inside (Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol were a combined 10-of-15 from the floor), and distributed with aplomb (six first half assists for Lamar Odom, and as a team the Lakers had 16 dimes on 21 makes). Still, while the Lakers didn't exactly phone in the first 24 minutes, nor did they unleash the snarling, frothing, rabid hoops beast capable of putting lesser competition down early.
A 60-54 halftime lead was nice, but certainly left room for improvement.
Fans didn't have to wait long to see it. Over the final 6:34 of the third quarter, the Lakers absolutely dropped the hammer on a suddenly helpless Pacers squad, putting rubber to the road- rubber, road, racing reference, Indy!- in the form of a 26-6 run. They did it on both sides of the ball, too, forcing five turnovers over that stretch and making a somewhat staggering 10 of 13 field goals. Slam dunks (Bynum, Jordan Farmar), three pointers (Ron Artest, Derek Fisher, Shannon Brown, Odom), alley oops (Artest to Bynum). Inside out, outside in, points off turnovers. The run basically had it all.
The stats for the quarter were impressive:
66.7% shooting for L.A., 35% for Indiana.
11 dimes on 14 makes.
Seven different players scoring.
Five steals... all from Artest.
The Lakers outscored Indiana 38-17.
It was an old fashioned pasting, the type of surge not always seen from the Lakers against weaker teams, certainly not when they kept the Sixers in a tighter-than-necessary game Friday night, and meant the only compelling questions left on the docket were taco related.
All in all, it was a very strong follow up to a big win over Denver Sunday afternoon.
TOUGH SHOOTING NIGHT FOR KOBE, WITH A SILVER LINING
Since a 13-for-19 performance against Memphis in his first game back after missing five straight contests because of his bad left ankle, Kobe's shot has been off. Way off. Tonight wasn't much different. He missed nine of his 14 shots, with most of the makes coming reasonably tight to the bucket. The jumper still wasn't there.
"I don't really sweat it too much, as long as I get good looks," he said. "Tonight, it felt good, some just didn't go in."
On the other hand, Kobe made his way to the free throw line a whopping 15 times in just over 30 minutes of burn. "The last time that's happened... I don't know when that happened."
For the record, the correct answer is January 6 in a 102-91 loss to the Clippers. I'm fairly sure he gave that game the Eternal Sunshine treatment.
Tonight the Lakers moved the ball well, which combined with the wee Pacers need to double hard when the ball came in the post gave Kobe plenty of chances to attack, and certainly he punished Indiana at the line. Given how he's shooting, for Kobe to find 14 points at the stripe was a positive development, particularly for a Lakers offense not known for earning trips to the line.
STRONG SECOND UNIT
While the Lakers' third quarter officially blew the doors off this outing, it's important not to overlook the foundation set during the second quarter. Down by one as the frame opened, Phil Jackson opted for a lineup of Jordan Farmar, Shannon Brown, Lamar Odom, Pau Gasol and --after giving him a once-over with a feather duster-- Adam Morrison. It was the most "second unit" second unit we've seen in a while this early in a game, with just one starter on hand and concerns brewing a cruddy team might actually put the Lakers in a hole.
Those worries took little more than four minutes to eliminate.
During that time, the Bench Mob went on a 14-6 run and created a lead never surrendered again. More impressively, every player scored at least one bucket except LO, who was content to set up three of the seven scores. The highlight was a driving reverse layup from Farmar, who shaded off defenders with his body and while using his southpaw to unite ball and cord. A very sweet move that got a few television and jumbotron replays.
It was also nice seeing Morrison contribute during his first meaningful minutes in many a moon. After his lob entry set up Andrew Bynum (eventually inserted to give Gasol a breather) on a reverse layup, the excitement was evident as he pumped fist while getting back on defense. There were low points as well --three turnovers along with four points and two assists-- but all in all, he and PJ were pleased. As were the fans, who clearly enjoyed seeing the little-used reverse carve out a productive stint.
SHANNON BROWN INJURY UPDATE
In the second half, Brown made a great defensive play coming off the weak side to block Dahntay Jones at the rim, but it came at a price. After the play, Brown was flexing his right hand, favoring the thumb.
"I really can't describe it. I don't really know what happened,” Brown said. “All I know is I went to block the shot, and however my thumb hit the ball or however that happened, it just started hurting. I don't really know. I didn't really get a chance to feel which way it bent or if it jammed up or how it happened. It's alright (now). It's probably going to swell a little bit over night, there's a little bit of pain. It is what it is."
He hit two three-pointers in the quarter and played all 12 minutes of the fourth, so clearly the thumb wasn't a huge problem, but any time a guard dings a thumb, let alone the one on his shooting hand, it's something to watch.
33: The amount of dimes dished for the Lakers. With 45 buckets in all, that means 73 percent of scores came via ball movement. Given how muddy the offense has been lately, this development was a sight for sore eyes.
43.5: The Lakers' clip from downtown, a serious uptick over their 34.7 percentage team average. Then again, the Pacers entered the game allowing 36.5 percentage, which put them in a three-way tie for fourth-worst in the NBA. As the saying goes, something had to give.
32: The purple and gold's biggest lead of the evening. Once that third quarter got rolling, this contest was never close.
8: The turnover total during the final three quarters. After kicking things off with five in the opening frame, the Lakers did an excellent job settling down and minding the rock.
9: Pacers star Danny Granger's contribution to the scoring column. That measly sum, 14 below his average, took nine attempts to muster. Did we mention Ron Ron did a nice job on lockdown duty?
Kobe Bryant, on Ron Artest's ability to guard scorers one-on-one:
"That's why he's here, because he puts guys in a strait jacket. Really good players. That's a responsibility."
Jordan Farmar, on the Lakers' high percentage from the field:
"I think we were just playing in a good rhythm. Everybody was unselfish making the extra pass. Guys were getting good looks and when you get good looks you shoot a higher percentage."
Phil Jackson, on Ron Artest's performance
"His defense was very good. I don't think he had a steal in the first half, but he had five in the game. Again, it is about getting used to the team in the second half.
Phil Jackson, on Kobe Bryant attacking the rim
"Kobe is still not shooting with the rhythm he needs to shoot the ball well... He felt like his outside game wasn't going so well, so he had to take the ball to the basket. The foul line was the way he scored for us tonight and that certainly is part of the plan. He found a way to play tonight, which is very admirable."
Phil Jackson, on the win
"Tonight's team resembled the team I have seen before. It looked like they got something back in the third quarter, came up with some steals and shot some balls. They made things happen on the offensive end. We came out of the game pretty well and we can now start on the road with a good win. Everyone came out okay with this win. It is a good win for us."
Start with Ron Artest, who spoke of the rhythm he's gaining on the defensive end:
More Artest, on the upcoming road trip:
Kobe on his shooting and the upcoming roadie:
Phil Jackson, on Kobe's shooting, the road trip, and the impact of Artest's defense:
"We're starting to adjust to what (Artest) can do defensively... He asks not to send double-teams and to let him take a guy on his own, so that allows us to play tighter defense on the other side of the court."