Most Saturday practices are pretty sleepy affairs. Today was a different story. We were greeted by 40 reporters who were at the practice facility to sit down with Kobe Bryant and talk about his second-generation Nike basketball shoe. Nike arranged the session for Bryant with reporters from Asia as well as sneaker magazines in the U.S.
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Lakers coach Phil Jackson was pretty hard on Andrew Bynum after Friday’s loss to Charlotte, saying that the Bobcats basically took advantage of him. Bynum finished with 11 points, 16 rebounds and seven blocks – - a very, very good line for a 19-year-old big man – - but Jackson was disappointed Bynum couldn’t get established early.
The Lakers wanted to feed the ball to Bynum and let him use his height advantage against Emeka Okafor. In Jackson’s mind, that meant either making plays with his passing or hitting shots. It never quite materialized that way; Bynum scored the Lakers’ first basket of the game but couldn’t convert the other times he got the ball.
“Right off the bat, they just started shoving him around off the lane,” Jackson said. “He couldnt even get a shot off. He had the ball taken away from him like three out of the first six times he touched the ball in the lane.
“He still got some points and his stats were good, but theres so many missed opportunities in the course of that game – - lob passes to him and opportunities where rebounds presented themselves and he couldnt fulfill it.’
The play most people will remember from Friday was the Bynum shot that Okafor blocked with 1:45 left in regulation. There’s no disputing that Bynum went up too softly in a one-point game but he did come back and make an immediate play at the defensive end. Gerald Wallace tried to go up into Bynum’s arms and was blocked.
“His presence is such a big factor in there and how to use that is so important,” Jackson said. “Hes still learning how to do that.
It’ll be interesting to see how Bynum comes back 36 hours later for a game against Tim Duncan and the San Antonio Spurs.
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Bryant wasn’t overly concerned with how many minutes (50) he played Friday. He played the first 15:30 before going to the bench for a breather and played all but 5.2 seconds in the second half plus overtime. Such is the process of hammering out a rotation now that Lamar Odom is back from a knee injury.
“I dont think about it,” Bryant said. “When Im out, I just try to get my rest. When its time to go back in, its time to go back in. Its not really part of my thought process.
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One thing I forgot to mention in Friday’s post is that the Lakers’ home losses to Charlotte, Milwaukee and Washington all have shared a common thread. All three of those teams beat the Lakers in the first game of a long road trip. You should never underestimate how hard teams play when they first come out on the road.
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By Ross Siler
EL SEGUNDO–So many times this season, the Lakers have turned to youth and inexperience as an excuse when they have lost games to teams whose only destiny is a spot in the NBA draft lottery.
That was before Saturdays practice, when Lakers coach Phil Jackson was in no mood to sugarcoat his teams second loss of the season to the Charlotte Bobcats.
“I hope theyre doing bad, Jackson said. “They should be because were really disappointed. It was another overtime game but the fact that we got beat that badly in overtime (15-6) when its our court, that was disappointing.
Jackson harped on the 15 turnovers that Kobe Bryant and Lamar Odom combined for in Fridays loss. The coach also showed his players tape of the Bobcats 11-1 run late in the third quarter, which erased what had been a seven-point Lakers lead.
“Thats really the point, Jackson said, “where an experienced team knows how theyre going to take care of business and does the right thing.
The Lakers have now lost two games to Charlotte and New Orleans, as well as games to Memphis, Portland, Seattle and Milwaukee. As for a silver lining, at least the Lakers dont have to worry about an NBA Finals pairing with the Bobcats.
“The positive is that we dont play none of those teams in the playoffs, Bryant said. “Thats a good thing. All the teams that we tend to play well against are future playoff opponents.
“Thats somewhat encouraging. Wed like to be getting better in those games instead of losing those games. The more experience we gain, the more well realize the importance.
Theres also the small matter of a nationally televised game today against San Antonio at Staples Center. The Lakers could sweep the abbreviated three-game season series for the first time since 1997-98.
“I just want to see us play a good game, Jackson said. “Were having some flat spells where we stop executing, we stop moving the ball and we start standing around and turnovers ensue on that. We just need to get that clarified.
Also: Jackson said the teams trainers were encouraged that Luke Walton has not experiencing significant swelling with his moderately sprained right ankle. “Were hopeful that its going to be a limited amount of time, Jackson said. . . .
With Odom returning from a sprained knee ligament, forward Radmanovic did not play Friday. Jackson said Radmanovic aggravated his sprained right hand during warm-ups for the game. . . .
Kwame Brown did some light shooting at practice and said of his sprained left ankle: “It felt OK, but I felt myself cheating with my right side. Brown is not expected back for at least another week. . . .
The Lakers need a victory today to avoid losing consecutive home games for the first time all season.