Lakers Gameday | 02/05/08 | Lakers 105, Nets 90
Despite Kobe's six points, Gasol, Fisher fuel Lakers past Nets
Pau Gasol was a winner in his Lakers debut, without even much help from Kobe Bryant.
Gasol had 24 points and 12 rebounds, and the Lakers beat the New Jersey Nets 105-90 on Tuesday night despite a season-low six points from Bryant, his first single-digit effort in more than a year.
Derek Fisher matched a season high with 28 points to lead the Lakers, who improved to 3-1 on their nine-game road trip. Bryant shot 3-of-13 from the floor but had eight assists in his lowest-scoring effort since an eight-point game against Denver on Jan. 5, 2007.
He seemed to work well with Gasol, who was 10-of-15 and showed he may help the Lakers get by just fine until Andrew Bynum returns from his knee injury.
Vince Carter scored 27 points for the Nets, who trailed by only three points midway through the fourth quarter before Gasol keyed the decisive surge.
Consecutive baskets by Richard Jefferson cut the Lakers' lead to 84-81 with 6:13 remaining before Gasol pulled down the rebound of Bryant's missed jumper and put it back while being fouled. His three-point play made it a six-point game and kicked off an 11-2 spurt, and he added another bucket off a feed from Bryant before Fisher capped it with a layup to make it 95-83 with under 3 minutes to play.
Despite having just one practice and one shootaround with the Lakers, Gasol was in the starting lineup and received a loud ovation when he was announced during introductions.
The center from Spain was acquired last Friday in a deal with Memphis that Gasol said even surprised him. The Lakers sent Kwame Brown, Javaris Crittenton, Aaron McKie, two first-round picks and the draft rights to Marc Gasol, Pau's brother, to the Grizzlies in a move that could turn the Lakers into one of the Western Conference favorites.
"I'm starting to realize how big the Lakers are around the country and around the world," Gasol said before the game. "I had a little bit of a feel when they coming [into Memphis] because I see more Lakers jerseys than Grizzlies jerseys in the stands. But that happens everywhere."
It was Gasol's first game since Jan. 28. He missed his final two games with Memphis because of a sore back, then the Lakers chose not to use him Sunday in Washington after he had traveled to Los Angeles the day before for his physical.
Bostjan Nachbar had 19 points and 10 rebounds, Jefferson scored 12 points and Jason Kidd had 11 points and 10 assists for the Nets.
The Nets and Lakers nearly completed a trade for Kidd last year at the deadline, but the deal fell through when the Lakers wouldn't include Andrew Bynum. Los Angeles was considered a possible destination this season if the Nets decided to trade Kidd, though the Gasol deal could take the Lakers out of the running.
Nachbar made two 3-pointers and scored nine points in the first quarter, helping the Nets take a 27-26 lead. Carter's emphatic dunk over DJ Mbenga on the fast break was the highlight of a back-and-forth second period, which ended tied at 47 after Malik Allen's turnaround jumper with 0.7 seconds left.
Fisher scored 10 points in the third quarter and the Lakers led 75-71 entering the fourth.
After a tumultuous offseason, the Los Angeles Lakers surprisingly emerged as one of the top teams in the competitive Western Conference in the season's first three months.
Now that they've landed a former All-Star in a blockbuster trade, the Lakers probably aren't going anywhere.
Pau Gasol is expected to make his Lakers debut Tuesday when the club visits the New Jersey Nets in the fourth game of its season-high nine-game road trip.
Los Angeles (30-16) acquired Gasol from Memphis on Friday in a deal that sent underachieving center Kwame Brown, rookie guard Javaris Crittenton and draft picks to the Grizzlies.
He could have started Los Angeles' 103-91 win at Washington on Sunday, but Lakers coach Phil Jackson opted to give Gasol some additional rest. The 7-foot Spaniard missed three of his last four games with Memphis due to a sore back, and still hadn't practiced with his new team.
"We want him to practice first. He traveled back and forth across the country, up all night, short hours of sleep. This isn't a fair situation for him," Jackson said before Sunday's game. "We'll practice (Monday) and see how he feels. Play with the guys before we have him going into an NBA game with the 'Showtime' thing."
Gasol, the 2002 Rookie of the Year and an All-Star in 2006, is averaging 18.9 points and 8.8 rebounds while shooting 50.1 percent from the field and a career-best 81.9 percent from the free-throw line.
Despite Gasol's performance, the Grizzlies appear headed to their second straight last-place finish in the Southwest and had failed to win a playoff game in three postseason appearances from 2004-06, prompting speculation about Gasol's unhappiness with the situation in Memphis. The Lakers, meanwhile, have one of the best records in the West despite a chaotic offseason that was highlighted by Kobe Bryant's demand to be traded to a contender.
With Gasol and Bryant paired in Los Angeles, it seems like both stars will get what they want.
"The pressure of winning and being one of the favorites, I think, is what you want to be involved in," Gasol said Sunday. "That's the kind of pressure I've been missing being in the NBA. I love that."
The Lakers could use Gasol's inside presence with center Andrew Bynum expected to be sidelined at least another six weeks with a knee injury. Without Bynum, the Lakers have gone 5-5, including 2-1 on their current road trip, which ends Feb. 13 at Minnesota.
Los Angeles will try to earn a split in the season series with New Jersey (20-27), which won the first meeting 102-100 in Los Angeles on Nov. 25 behind 27 points from Richard Jefferson.
The Nets suffered a season-high nine-game losing streak from Jan. 11-27, but have fared better in their last three games. After winning back-to-back contests, though, New Jersey lost 104-92 at Atlanta on Saturday despite shooting 51.4 percent for its third-best shooting performance.
The Nets gave up 58 points in the paint - eight shy of their season high, also set by Atlanta.
"It was our lack of effort that caused us to lose tonight," said Nets guard Vince Carter, who had 14 points and a season-high 10 assists. "When you allow a team to score 50-plus points in the paint, it's going to be difficult to win."
Gasol is averaging 20.7 points and shooting 55.6 percent in his last three games against New Jersey.Copyright 2007 by STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited
(Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty Images)
SEASON & SERIES NOTES; CONNECTIONS
The Lakers currently trail the season series with New Jersey 0-1 after sweeping last year’s season series with New Jersey 2-0. The Lakers have lost just four total season series to New Jersey since the Nets first season in the NBA (76-77), most recently dropping the 2005-06 series 0-2. This will be the 68th meeting between the Lakers and Nets with Los Angeles leading the all-time series 48-19. The last eight games between the Lakers and Nets have been decided by an average of 4.3 points with Los Angeles going 4-4 in those contests. In their last 18 overall contests, the Lakers are 11-7 against New Jersey but are only 5-5 against the Nets in their last 10 contests. The Lakers are 5-4 at STAPLES Center all-time against New Jersey, while in New Jersey, the Lakers are 7-3 in their last 10 games. Under head coach Phil Jackson, the Lakers are 9-6 against New Jersey. In 16 games including 12 starts against the Nets, Kobe Bryant is averaging 22.9 points while Lamar Odom has averaged 17.3points and 7.9 rebounds in 17 games (16 starts) against New Jersey. Additionally, Luke Walton and the Nets Richard Jefferson were roommates and played three years at the University of Arizona. Nets assistant coach Bill Cartwright played five seasons under Lakers head coach Phil Jackson in Chicago, winning three NBA Championships.
Wire To Wire
The Lakers have also played TWO games in which the opposite is true, having never held a lead in their November 23rd loss at Boston (94-107) and their January 17th loss versus Phoenix. Last season, the Lakers lost FIVE games in which they trailed wire-to-wire while dropping SIX such games in 2005-06.
BRYANT PASSES BAYLOR FOR THIRD ALL-TIME WITH 89th 40-POINT GAME