The first loss

The last lead the Lakers had in Sunday nights exhibition game against Phoenix came at the 8:56 mark of the second quarter. They trailed the entire second half, by as many as 14 points, and yet there still was a positive vibe after the 99-91 loss.

Im not sure what you can take away from a game where Kobe Bryant and Kwame Brown didnt play and Lamar Odom finished with nine points on 3 for 10 shooting with four turnovers, two of which were offensive fouls.

The Suns were playing their first game back in the United States after spending two weeks touring in Europe. There is a nine-hour time difference between Las Vegas and Italy, and Phoenix definitely had tired legs in shooting 7 for 28 on 3-pointers.

The good news for the Lakers was the play of Shammond Williams and Smush Parker, who combined to score 30 points and hit 11 of 13 shots and seven 3-pointers. Parkers five 3s were one more than he hit in seven games against Phoenix in the playoffs.

Parker had 18 points on eight shots, Williams had 12 on 5. Thats the productivity the Lakers need out of both playing alongside Bryant. Parker averaged 11.5 points on 9.5 shots last season. For his NBA career, Williams has averaged 6.1 points on 5.4 shots.

Williams said afterward he was encouraged by the fact that the Lakers have had no trouble scoring with Bryant out. They have put up 94, 104 and now 91 points in the three exhibition games. That bodes well for the regular season.

On the other hand, Maurice Evans missed all six shots he took and Vladimir Radmanovic went 1 for 5. Radmanovic is now 4 for 20 in three exhibition games, although he is playing with a hand injury that makes shooting difficult.

Andrew Bynum had some growing pains in 22 minutes. He picked up two fouls in the first five minutes but not before scoring off a really nice putback in which he took the rebound on one side and finished with a layup on the other side.

The Lakers have been hoping to see Bynum put together sequential movements just like that. He came back in the second quarter and was called for a travel after holding the ball seemingly forever trying to make a move against Amare Stoudemire.

After that, Bynum picked up his third foul for flattening Steve Nash when he went to set a pick. In the third quarter, Bynum took a step back from Nash in the lane, leading to a short jumper. Bynum heard about it from Kurt Rambis in the next timeout.

But Bynum finished with eight points and had two good moments at the end. He blocked Leandro Barbosa off a drive and dunked off a pass from Parker.

Rambis on Bynum: “I thought Andrew did terrific. He did a lot of good things out there. We went into the playoffs last year and said, `This is a series that Andrew’s not going to play.’

“It’s a situation where Andrew has to learn how to be able to play at a much faster pace than he’s used to. One of the things we encourage him to do all the time is run the floor. He kind of lopes sometime. He didn’t have a choice in this ballgame.

“Even having said that, there were still times where he didn’t run the floor as hard as we would like him to. But defensively he did some good things, offensively he did some good things. He’s still a young kid. He’s still got a long ways to go.”

A couple of things worth noting:

The Lakers had a great sequence late in the first quarter off a pick-and-roll play that started with Williams. He gave the ball up to Ronny Turiaf, who sent a nice pass to Brian Cook for a layup. The ball moved quickly to the open man.

Devin Green came up with a nice steal in the second quarter only to blow a sure dunk at the other end. Some of us were wondering if the NBAs new ball might have been an issue.

Referee Joey Crawford was worked up for a preseason game. He gave Rambis a technical foul at the end of the first half and barked at the Lakers huddle to get on the floor for the start of the second half. Remember that its Oct. 15.

Sure enough, Parker was whistled for an offensive foul 40 seconds into the third quarter, shot a look that said he was upset at the call, and was hit with a technical immediately. I guess thats what the NBA wants this season.

Turiaf, lastly, led all players with 10 rebounds in 23 minutes. He might be a better alternative at center than Bynum, although the Lakers must develop their teenage project. But Turiaf has to shoot free throws better.

He is now 8 for 17 from the foul line in three exhibition games. The Lakers are at 45 for 79 (57 percent) as a team. Thats not going to get it done in the regular season.

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Sorry I couldn’t post this last night. For some reason, the server that hosts all of our blogs was down.

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  • Lakersin07

    Nice job Ross – I have really enjoyed your postings here – keep up the good work!

    Any sense on whether Kobe will play either of the shootaround games at Staples next week?

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