As miserable as Wedneday night’s loss was to the Hornets – – and Lakers coach Phil Jackson offered some pointed criticism as you’ll see below – – the Lakers can take some consolation in having accomplished what they needed to with this home-heavy stretch of games to start the season.
Back when the schedule was announced, I wrote that the Lakers would need to win 12 or 13 of their first 20 games – – 15 of which were at home – – to avoid having to make up ground on the road. They’re guaranteed to notch between 12 and 14 wins with games still to play Friday against Atlanta and Sunday against San Antonio.
You never want to give away home games, which the Lakers did against a shorthanded Hornets team Wedneday, but Jackson said just the other day that it was “pretty tough to count on anything positive” about this homestand before the season given the injuries to Kobe Bryant and others.
The Lakers also will hope to come together on their six-game Christmas trip the same way they did when they hit the road last December and won five of six.
Jackson talked at Thursday’s practice about his formula for a playoff team of winning 75 percent of home games and splitting on the road. The Lakers need one more home victory to finish 11-4 in this stretch and stay on pace for a 50-win season.
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When the going gets tough, the Lakers shoot the 3.
They took nine 3-pointers in the fourth quarter Wednesday even as the Hornets played a four-guard lineup with center Tyson Chandler and practically dared the Lakers to beat them inside. They made one of those 3-pointers and conceded after the game that they fell into a trap.
Its fun shooting 3-pointers, especially when youre open,” Luke Walton said. “But youve got a team with (Jannero) Pargo and Chris Paul in the game as the 1 and 2. Thats a small lineup. They want us to shoot 3s and weve got to be disciplined and not do that.
The Lakers played similarly when Milwaukee settled into a zone defense for much of last month’s game. They took a franchise-record 37 3-pointers trying to break it.
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After going 0 for 4 Wednesday, Walton no longer is leading the NBA in 3-point shooting percentage. Walton slipped to fourth behind Gerald Green, Al Harrington and Kyle Korver. It will be interesting to see how Walton bounces back Friday against Atlanta. His confidence in his shot has been at an all-time high.
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The Lakers obtained a $2.1 million disabled player exception for Chris Mihm. They have to use it by Dec. 29 and would have to release a player from their 15-man roster in order to add a player with it.
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By Ross Siler
EL SEGUNDO–The Lakers have played 11 of their last 12 games at Staples Center, spending all of one night away from Los Angeles since Nov. 9, and the comforts of home might be starting to have a negative effect on their play.
The morning after an uninspiring loss to New Orleans, Lakers coach Phil Jackson spared no criticism of his team, calling the play of Kwame Brown and Andrew Bynum “horrendous and saying Lamar Odom was “completely out of focus.
“I think theres an assumption that youre going to win because youre at home and that youve done it before, Jackson said. “Thats a lazy mans attitude towards it. We have to have much more intensity on the floor.
Jackson was particularly disappointed with the effort the Lakers made in keeping guards Chris Paul and Jannero Pargo out of the lane. They needed a “roadblock to the basket, as Jackson put it, and his big men consistently were out of position.
“Theres a certain level at which you say, `You dont come any farther, Jackson said, later adding. “You have to make a statement.
The Lakers were outrebounded 49-31, gave up 20 offensive rebounds and offered little resistance as Paul totaled 26 points and 11 assists. For his part, Jackson said he would consider starting forward Ronny Turiaf tonight against Atlanta.
The Hornets were playing without three of their four leading scorers and had lost five games in a row before arriving at Staples Center.
“We just didnt play with that kind of determination, Jackson said. “They were more determined than we were.
There are two home games left for the Lakers before they play eight of 10 games after that on the road. They will play San Antonio, Dallas and Houston (twice) next week, with Jackson questioning if the Lakers would be able to stay above .500.
“The way we havent progressed as a team in the last week, Jackson said, “I think we really have to look and see what we have to do to get better.
Jackson also watched as Odom, putting up the best numbers of his career this season, finished Wednesdays game with seven turnovers. He had three in succession at the end of the first half and committed a horrific inbounds violation late in the game.
Odom also took and missed a quick 3-pointer with 2:32 remaining after Jackson had just diagrammed a play to go inside during a timeout.
“Lamar was completely out of focus last night, Jackson said. “He wasnt attentive at all. That (shot) was consistent with what went along with his game.
Jackson additionally talked about the two spots “where you have to have energy as a basketball team. The first was an organizing guard, the job belonging to Smush Parker, and the other was an enforcer inside, one of Browns responsibilities.
“We dont have either as a basketball team, Jackson said. “Thats where our weakness is right now. Were looking for guys to step into that role.
Ankle update: Kobe Bryant sat out Thursdays practice after playing 37 minutes the night before on his sprained right ankle. He is probable for tonight.
Its pretty sore right now, Bryant said. “Its a little more swollen than it was before the game yesterday. This is something we expected. Get some treatment and see how it responds.
Also: The NBA approved the Lakers request for a disabled player exception for center Chris Mihm, who is out for the season after undergoing ankle surgery.
The Lakers can use the $2.1 million to sign or acquire a player through a trade but must do so by Dec. 29.