As the old sports adage goes, “a win is a win,” and that saying would certainly apply to the Lakers’ shaky 99-92 victory over the New Jersey Nets at the Prudential Center on Sunday afternoon.
In a game that was a lot closer than it should have been, the Lakers got a strong performance from Kobe Bryant, who scored a game-high 32 points, to go along with six assists, four rebounds, and four steals. He also scored 14 points in the decisive fourth quarter when the game was still very much in doubt.
The Lakers led for most of the game, but never could put the Nets away. It was a 52-42 halftime lead for the Lakers, who then briefly opened up a 12-point lead early in the third quarter. But the Nets continued to fight back, and by the middle of the fourth, had taken the lead 78-77 after a pair of free throws by Brook Lopez.
With the game tied at 87-87 late in the quarter, the Lakers went on an 8-0 run, topped off by a Pau Gasol three-point play. That run was enough to finally put the pesky Nets away, and the Lakers got the seven-point victory. They are now 2-1 on their current seven-game road trip.
Lamar Odom continues to play well in a starting role, scoring 22 points, and grabbing seven boards. He also scored five key points down the stretch of the game. Pau Gasol struggled with his shot again, but scored 15 points, to go along with 11 rebounds, and five blocked shots. Gasol is averaging nearly 3.5 blocks in his last five games.
Shooting continues to be an issue for the Lakers during this last 10-game period that has seen them go just 5-5. On Sunday, they shot only 41.5% from the field, missing a lot of wide open shots during the game. They did manage to make 7-16 (43.7%) from the three-point line, and 24-29 (82.8%) from the foul line, where they have shined all year.
The Nets, who have now lost seven in a row, shot only 40.4% from the field, and a worse 4-20 (20.0%) from beyond the arc. They did manage 15 offensive rebounds which helped them stay close in a game few thought they had a chance in. For the game, the Nets held a small rebounding advantage at 45-42.
Brook Lopez, who has had his struggles at times this year, led the Nets with 25 points and nine rebounds. Devin Harris had 16 points and 10 assists, and Anthony Morrow had 15 points, but hit just 3-9 from the three-point line.
The Lakers will spend Monday in the nation’s capital meeting with President Barrack Obama, who will congratulate them on their second-straight NBA Championship.
Their next game is Tuesday night against the Washington Wizards at the Verizon Center. The Wizards, another team struggling at 6-16, have lost eight straight to the Lakers including last week’s 115-108 loss at Staples Center. The status on Andrew Bynum playing his first game of the year Tuesday is still up in the air.