Gasol leads Lakers to another rompNov 26, 2008 - 7:36 AM By Jonathan Raber PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer
LOS ANGELES (Ticker) -- Facing a largely inexperienced frontline, Pau Gasol was able to impose his will against the big men of the New Jersey Nets.
Gasol scored 26 points to lead six players in double figures as the Los Angeles Lakers posted a 120-93 rout against the Nets on Tuesday.
Gasol made 9-of-12 shots from the field and all eight free throws while grabbing eight rebounds for the Lakers, who cruised to their fifth straight victory and improved to an NBA best 12-1.
"I felt like I had an advantage coming into the game," Gasol said. "I wanted to be aggressive and get myself going."
Matched opposite New Jersey's 20-year-old center Brook Lopez and second-year forward Yi Jianlian on the frontline, the Lakers' two seven-footers Gasol and Andrew Bynum were presented with a favorable matchup that they were able to exploit.
"Our emphasis was on the inside game," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. "(The Nets) have a lot of young players on the interior. Both (Gasol) and Andrew (Bynum) would be players we wanted to feature and emphasize getting the ball inside to."
With a large lead late in the fourth quarter, Los Angeles was again able to give extended rest to its starters. Gasol logged a team-high 31 minutes as all the starters but Bynum sat out the final quarter.
"It's super important, you get to save miles on your legs," Bynum said. "You just sit out and really rest, and you need that."
Jordan Farmar had 18 points off the bench, while Bynum added 15. Kobe Bryant overcame a rough start to finish with a season-low 12 points after collecting four points on 1-of-9 shooting in the opening half.
"It's a good sign, it's a healthy sign," said Jackson of the win despite his star guard's struggles. "But we want Kobe to shoot the ball well and have a good game, obviously. He is the focal point of our offense, and need him to be the threat that everyone has to be aware of."
The Nets entered the contest averaging 99.9 points per game - sixth best in the league. They fell short of that mark despite getting five players in double-figures.
Devin Harris led the way with 21 points and Lopez added 17 points and 10 rebounds for New Jersey.
"We did not play like the Nets tonight," Harris said. "The ball was not moving and we took bad shots. I can put that on myself because I kind of started that trend, but we just need to move the ball better."
Close throughout the first half, the Lakers gained some breathing room with a push late in the third quarter.
With the score knotted, 66-66, Bynum scored six straight points, sparking a 15-4 run that was capped by Farmar's driving layup with 1:48 to go in the quarter.
The fourth quarter belonged to the Lakers, who got a spark from Lamar Odom. He opened with a layup and added a pair of 3-pointers as Los Angeles outscored the Nets, 15-2, over the first four minutes to forge its largest lead, 105-78.
"We have a lot of players who can step up and produce," Gasol said. "We don't depend on one or two players. That's the great thing about our team, anybody can step up and play great. If Kobe has a bad shooting night, we'll be OK."
The rest of the reserves would protect the advantage. Sasha Vujacic knocked down a 3-pointer and little- used Luke Walton and Chris Mihm hit consecutive baskets to make it 111-84 midway through the quarter.
NEW JERSEY 93
LA LAKERS 120 FINAL
Nov 26 1:05 AM
NEW JERSEY 76
LA LAKERS 90 END, 3RD QTR
Nov 26 12:28 AM
NEW JERSEY 54
LA LAKERS 56 HALFTIME
Nov 25 11:42 PM
NEW JERSEY 28
LA LAKERS 24 END, 1ST QTR
Nov 25 11:07 PM
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