Behind Bynum and Gasol, the Lakers Hit the Big Five-Oh

There were some rough patches along the way, but in the end the Lakers' road swing through Northern California turned out just fine. Tonight they completed the back-to-back sweep of the Warriors and Kings with a fairly routine 106 to 99 win in Sacramento. The Kings, naturally, aren't anything like the caliber of opponent the Lakers will see in the playoffs, but the performance, especially in the second half, offered a blueprint for how they'll have to win games in May and June: lots of Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol, a judiciously aggressive Kobe Bryant and the occasional timely shot from the bench.

Let's start with Drew and Pau, who dominated tonight. Bynum was the spearhead early. He scored 11 points in the first quarter and 17 in the first half, looking alert and energetic all night long. He's playing stellar ball right now. Drew and Pau both finished with double-doubles, Gasol having destroyed the Kings' big men in the second half with his jump hook and other point-blank shots. He seems to have recovered the shooting touch that deserted him for a few weeks. When these two guys are both performing at a high level - and believe me, I realize how rarely that happens - the Lakers are nearly impossible to beat.

Kobe had kind of an odd game. He took about 30% of the team's shots (taking into account trips to the free-throw line in addition to field-goal attempts), which is more than one would prefer, and he didn't shoot especially well, making only 8 of his 21 twos and 8 of 14 free throws. But he attacked the paint relentlessly, which resulted in both dishes to teammates (7 assists) and offensive rebounds off his misses. His six defensive rebounds helped limit the NBA's fourth-best offensive rebounding team to a low 23% OR rate on the night.

For basically the entire first half, the Lakers' offense came from those three sources: Drew, Pau and Kobe. Everyone else was shooting atrociously, to the point that at the beginning of the third quarter, the Kings were heavily packing the lane on defense. There were a few possessions where there wasn't even a nominal attempt to guard Derek Fisher. Not until a few threes started dropping in the third did the offense regain its spacing and rhythm, and when it did, Sacramento had no hope. After scoring 1.09 points per possession in the first half, the Lakers scored 1.27 PPP in the second.

Nice bench contributions came from Lamar Odom, who unassumingly played a strong overall game, and Sasha Vujacic. Sasha appears on the verge of scooping up a lot of Jordan Farmar's rotation minutes. Both Jordan and Shannon Brown look pretty lost at the moment. Neither is shooting well or playing with much intelligence.

Now at 50-18 (four games up on Denver, three on Orlando), the Lakers return home for Win #51 courtesy of the downtrodden Timberwolves on Friday. Before pivoting to that matchup, let's tip our lids to Tyreke Evans. I know I went on at length about this kid in the game thread, but seriously, he's ridiculous. Even with either Ron Artest or Kobe guarding him for much of the game, he got to the rim for a shot attempt or foul 16 times. Aside from LeBron James, I don't think any perimeter player in the league is capable of doing that. As Kobe said after the game when asked about Tyreke, "that's a grown-ass man."

 

Poss.

TO%

FTA/
FGA

FT%

3FGA/FGA

2PT%

3PT%

EFG

TS%

OReb Rate

DReb Rate

PPP

Lakers

92

11

0.32

64

0.16

52

29

51

53

30

77

1.15

Kings

91

10

0.33

71

0.26

47

32

47

51

23

70

1.09

Follow Dex on Twitter here.

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