A dozen deep

One thing you hear more and more around the Lakers is talk about what things are going to be like once Kobe Bryant, Kwame Brown and Chris Mihm all come back from injuries. The Lakers could have a 12-man active roster some nights in which every player on the bench could be a factor in the game.

“What’s going to be tough with 15 guys on our ballclub when everybody is healthy is putting the 12 guys together,” Lakers assistant coach Kurt Rambis said. “Everybody’s done well and has supported us in training camp and preseason and these two ball games.

“It’s going to be tough to have to put three guys on the inactive list because they will have earned the right to play.”

Case in point: The Lakers got 23 points and nine rebounds Wednesday out of Ronny Turiaf, a player who probably would be a candidate for the inactive list if the Lakers had their full complement of big men.

It is a huge difference from last season, when the Lakers had three and four rookies on the active roster for some games. You had to wonder if Phil Jackson looked at a bench with Andrew Bynum, Von Wafer, Devin Green and Turiaf and questioned if he could trust any of the four.

The problem of too much versus too little is not a bad one to have, although young players will have to accept that they might find themselves inactive. The more players the Lakers have in their rotation, in addition, the more they can play different units on the floor. They could go small, big, whatever.

Were playing well, now its just about getting to that next level,” Bryant said. “We know what we potentially could do once we have everybody back. If were a deep team now, once we get everybody back, well be even deeper.

* * *

Rambis was asked Wednesday if he thought Turiaf’s game gets overlooked sometimes because of all the cheerleading he does on the bench.

“You may not be able to measure everything he accomplishes out there in terms of stats, but he will have an impact on ballgames if he’s given enough time to do that,” Rambis said. “He showed that (Wednesday). It’s that type of person, that type of input that we need from every bench ballplayer.

“I’ve said for a long time that guys that can come off the bench and do something, whatever that is, and do it well, they’re almost more valuable than guys that start the ballgame. Because it’s hard to come off the bench. Sometimes you can sit there an entire half. Ronny got his shot and showed he can really perform for us.”

* * *

Here’s the report from Thursday’s practice. The Lakers have a real chance to open 6-0 with their next four games coming against teams that missed the playoffs last season.

By Ross Siler
Staff Writer

EL SEGUNDO–Before everyone got ahead of themselves, Lakers coach Phil Jackson sat down his players for a 45-minute film session Thursday to show that their record might be perfect but their play has not been.

Then Jackson reminded reporters of his mentor Tex Winters favorite axiom that winning cures a “myriad of illnesses. There is still a ways to go for the Lakers in reaching the level of organization that their coach wants on both the offensive and defensive ends.

Yet Jackson did make a telling remark when asked if the Lakers 2-0 record might give Kobe Bryant the opportunity to take more time in coming back from knee surgery.

“I would suppose, Jackson said, “but then theres always the Wally Pipp theory, you know.

Little did Maurice Evans know he had a chance to send Bryant to the bench like Lou Gehrig did to Pipp on the 1925 Yankees. Such is the state of good feelings right now around the Lakers.

The Lakers know how important a fast start is with a November schedule loaded with home games. They will play 14 of their next 18 games at home and their next four games against teams that missed the playoffs last season.

The possibility exists for a huge month for the Lakers. Bryant said he took the 2-0 start as a key sign that the Lakers succeeded in picking up where they left off after pushing the Phoenix Suns to Game 7 in their first-round playoff series.

“Everybody came into the season with a lot of confidence, Bryant said. “Its huge to be able to sustain that and keep that momentum going.

Bryant said his right knee felt “pretty lively after practicing Thursday and would decide about playing tonight against Seattle after the morning shootaround. Bryant summed up the state of his knee by saying, “If I dont feel ouchy, I wont be grouchy.

“Maybe its one too many nursery rhyme books, added Bryant, who has two young daughters.

Plugged in: After receiving “unanimous feedback in support of their new lighting system, the Lakers have decided to adopt it for the rest of the season. They will use temporary lights until a permanent system can go up in January.

They could be forced to play a couple of games under the old lights, however, when the new lights have to come down to make room for concert lighting. The new lights have the effect of turning the court into a stage with the seating bowl darkened.

Long distance: Ronny Turiaf said the phone call Bryant made to congratulate him after Wednesdays game “surprised the hell out of me. Bryant told Turiaf that he was dancing in front of the television watching him score 23 points against Golden State.

“That shows the friendship that we have is for real, Turiaf said.

Missing man: Guard Sasha Vujacic has struggled with his shot through the first two games. Vujacic is 0 for 7 from the field, 0 for 6 from 3-point range and 0 for 2 from the foul line.

“His shot got a little flat and he started pressing a little bit, Jackson said. “He had such a good training camp. Hes got to keep looking to do the right thing and relax out there and not press.

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  • gdchild

    Great stuff.

    Lights out!

    Kobe and Ronny dancing!

  • Michael Teniente

    I appreciate your posts very much.


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