There were three young players of note on the court in Friday’s Lakers/Raptors game at Staples Center. The first was Andrew Bynum, starting at center for the Lakers only days after his 19th birthday. Then there was rookie guard Jordan Farmar, who played 14 minutes off the bench and sparked the Lakers in the fourth quarter.
The third player was Toronto’s Andrea Bargnani, the No. 1 overall pick in the June draft out of Italy. And Bargnani finished with an awful line: He missed all three shots he took and wound up with two points, picking up five fouls in only 6:25 of action. To be fair, Bargnani turned 21 last month and big men do develop slower than guards.
It nevertheless was striking to see how much more polished Farmar looked. They play different positions, of course, but Farmar was taken with the No. 26 pick and will be a teenager until his 20th birthday on Nov. 30.
“Jordan has a real feel for the game,” Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. “I think one of the things, by his own admission he would tell you, he went to UCLA because he knew the program would elevate his game and he would have a quicker ability to enter the NBA if things went well for him.
“Thats the way I think his thought process was as a very young man. Not presumptuous but he felt that strongly about his own game.
“That preparatory experience he had – - good coach, good system, play hard, learn to do things on the court – - acclimated him to our game probably faster than a guy like Bargnani, whos probably not ready for the physicality and the intensity level that goes on in this game all the time.
Farmar hit a big 3-pointer and attacked for a layup in the fourth quarter when the offense stalled. He also led the Lakers’ second team in the second quarter, driving the lane and delivering passes to Kwame Brown and Maurice Evans for baskets. Farmar had seven points and four assists in the game.
“Ive been getting a lot of shots up and try to make some things happen when its my turn and when its my time,” Farmar said. “Just knowing when to do things and when not to.
Another interesting thing to consider: The Lakers drafted Bynum in 2005 while saying that he would have been a top three pick had he played a season at Connecticut instead of entering the draft out of high school. Would you take Bynum over either Bargnani, LaMarcus Aldridge or Adam Morrison?
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Jackson sat both Lamar Odom and Kobe Bryant for a two-minute stretch of the second quarter and watched his second team score 12 points and push the Lakers out in front 42-34. The lineup on the floor was Farmar, Evans, Brown, Sasha Vujacic and Vladimir Radmanovic.
“A lot of times its good to have them both off the floor because the defense doesnt have a key,” Jackson said. “They dont know where the ball is going to go. As a consequence, the players can run the offense and do the right things on the court. They got that done. They gave us the needed advantage we had to have in that game, that eight-point separation or whatever it was.
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Something to remember in watching the triangle offense: Jackson said it operates off a two-count once a player gets the ball. If he can’t make the pass he wants, he automatically has to move the ball to the next open man. There’s a rhythm that’s important. Jackson stressed to his players at practice Saturday that they have to go away from Odom and Bryant sometimes no matter what.
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Here’s the notes from Saturday. The Lakers play the Chicago Bulls on Sunday in a game that will go a long way in determining just how big a month they can have playing so many games at Staples Center.
By Ross Siler
EL SEGUNDO–If there was a topic that particularly engaged Lakers coach Phil Jackson on Saturday, it was Kobe Bryants complaint about being called for carrying and traveling on moves he has made throughout his 10-year career.
The NBA has included both calls in its points of emphasis for the season. Jackson said the league referees are still not consistent enough in making the calls but offered his full support for the change in officiating.
“They are things that should be called, Jackson said. “I know the players arent happy with it at this time and they have to be patient.
As part of a four-minute answer to a question, Jackson referred back to his days as Chicago Bulls coach, when the leagues director of officials asked him if he would want Michael Jordan to be called for the same violations as every other player.
“I always said, `Call everything on Jordan. Call everything on everybody, Jackson said. “No one should have any excuses to get away with anything in this game. The rules are more important than your (stars), whatever this leagues about.
“Those players that have the true talent will figure out what is important within the game. Theyll remedy the situation. The players that have to cheat or have to use illegal moves to get ahead, those are the ones that shouldnt get ahead by bending the rules of the game.
“Unfortunately, the league is late on this, about 10 years late on this. Allen Iverson exploited the discontinued dribble and the hop step on the spin move for (10 years). Weve been bitching about this thing for over 10 years now and we finally got to it.
Bryant, who is averaging 4.9 turnovers per game this season, was called for traveling Friday when he tried to use a hop step as part of a drive. It was a move he claimed after the game that Jerry West almost had patented in his career.
Jackson, meanwhile, blamed the NBA for ignoring palming of the ball and changing the way players dribble at all levels of basketball.
“Now theyve created the bad habits all the way down into junior high school and up, Jackson said. “So now to try to correct the game at this level is going to be difficult. Its going to take some consistency.
“Unfortunately, the fans are going to have to stick with it and guys like Kobe are going to end up having the excess turnovers in a period of time until they adjust their game to whats called.
Desperate times: The Lakers have been warned to expect a desperate Chicago Bulls team in this evenings game at Staples Center. The Bulls opened a seven-game road trip with losses to Dallas, Houston and San Antonio as part of the dreaded Texas Triangle.
The Bulls beat the defending champion Heat by 42 points on opening night in Miami. Jackson previously warned the Lakers about playing a desperate Seattle team on the road Nov. 5 but was chagrined when his team didnt heed the warning and lost 117-101.
Jackson said he liked the moves the Bulls made in the off-season – - signing Ben Wallace, trading for P.J. Brown and drafting Tyrus Thomas – - but wasnt ready to anoint them the heir apparent to Miami in the Eastern Conference.
“Youre really pushing it forward awfully fast when theyre still a young team, Jackson said. “They still have to go through some things. Their coach does a good job with them as far as getting them to play hard. The next step is how they put it all together.