No Kobe, no Lamar

If you’re looking for the turning point where the Lakers lost Sunday night’s game to Seattle, I would suggest the three minutes at the start of the second quarter they played without either Kobe Bryant or Lamar Odom on the floor.

Lakers coach Phil Jackon played a lineup of Smush Parker, Maurice Evans, Luke Walton, Vladimir Radmanovic and Brian Cook. What happened was the Lakers gave up an 11-0 run and committed five turnovers. The Sonics took a 40-31 lead and never looked back.

“I wanted to give them an opportunity,” Jackson said. “I put Luke out there with them so they’d have somebody out there they were comfortable with, that had been with them since training camp. But that didn’t seem to hold them together.”

There weren’t a lot of times last season where Jackson felt comfortable not having one of his two leaders on the court. If you saw Friday night’s game against Seattle, Jackson played Odom the entire first quarter, then left him out for 4 1-2 minutes to start the second quarter with Bryant on the bench.

It hurt the Lakers to have two players – - Evans and Radmanovic – - in that second-quarter lineup Sunday that are still learning the offense. There’s also not a lot of defensive muscle with Radmanovic and Cook as the two big men. The Sonics turned up the pressure during that run and the Lakers threw away four passes.

We’ll see Tuesday night if Jackson is inclined to sit Bryant and Odom together again.

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Green to D-Fenders

There was some good news for former Lakers guard Devin Green on Thursday. Three days after being the last player cut by the Lakers, Green was the D-Fenders’ first-round pick in the NBA Development League draft.

The Lakers do not hold the rights to Green but you have to imagine he’s first in line for a 10-day contract if there’s a need. One key date might be Feb. 22, the NBA’s trading deadline. If Aaron McKie is not healthy and his $2.5 million contract no longer has trade value, the Lakers might be inclined to give Green a shot.

It’s also a sign to Green that the Lakers are investing in his growth as a player, although Green is going to make a fraction of the $664,209 minimum salary he would have in the NBA.

Former Lakers guard Von Wafer was a second-round draft pick by the Colorado 14ers. The rest of the D-Fenders’ picks were Aloysius Anagonye, who played on Michigan State’s NCAA championship team, Akin Akingbala, Travis Garrison, Nate Johnson, Elton Nesbitt, Wayne Arnold, Julius Lamptey, Jamar McKnight and Andre Joseph.

It also would have been nice for the NBA to hold its D-League draft earlier than 6 p.m. PST. Not sure how many people were paying attention on the East Coast, where the last pick was made after midnight.

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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.
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Passing interest

One topic of interest before Wednesday’s game was Andrew Bynum’s passing. Bynum had five assists in the season opener and did an excellent job finding cutters from the post as well as open shooters beyond the 3-point arc.

“I think hes going to be a better passer than what he showed,” Lakers assistant coach Kurt Rambis said. “He understands when he gets the basketball inside, theres things and people that we want him to look for first and then he has his opportunities to go to work.

“I think youre seeing glimpses of a real good find for the Lakers. I think hes going to be a good player for us for many years at both ends of the court.”

Said Bynum: “If I catch it in the lane, which is what I do in the early offense, then I go to work. But in the triangle, Im a playmaker. If you want to get inside penetration, the easiest way is to get a post pass and then youve got to look for the cutters after that.

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