Shoot, miss, repeat

A rough start for both teams. The Lakers and Rockets were a combined 1 for 10 from the field until Kobe Bryant scored on a driving layup three minutes into the game. The Rockets missed their first seven shots.

For the record, Bryant was also booed on his first touch, although not as loudly as during warmups. Of course, when he scored, cheers prevailed.

It’s 7-4 Lakers, five minutes into this sloppy game.

Kobe booed

Well, that was interesting. I think everyone wondered what the reaction to Kobe Bryant would be inside Staples Center, and it was overwhelmingly negative. As soon as his picture appeared on the video screen during introductions, the vast majority of fans roared with boos. It was a direct contrast to the reaction given to Derek Fisher, who received huge cheers.

Marge Hearn, Chick’s widow, did the introductions. She also got much more applause than Kobe.

Strategy change

In his pregame media session, Phil Jackson said Derek Fisher, not Kobe Bryant, will be the primary ballhandler. That flies in the face of what the Lakers worked on for much of training camp, when Bryant settled into his “facilitator role.”

“It’s the turnover factor,” Jackson said. “We’re trying to cut down on the number of turnovers we had in training camp.”

Jackson said he didn’t expect Bryant’s sprained wrist to be a factor.

“Maybe in the shooting,” Jackson said, “but I thought it went well today (in the morning shootaround).”

Welcome to opening night

The first thing I encountered, upon walking out of the parking structure, was posters, on the concrete pillars, of James Worthy and Lamar Odom. Apparenly, the Lakers are honoring all of their non-playing greats…

It’s odd to be at Staples Center on the night of the season opener, and hear everyone talking about the Dodgers. Clealy there’s more than one dysfunctional team in town…

Stay tuned for updates throughout the night, starting with Phil Jackson’s pregame session with the media…

More Kobe trouble

Kobe Bryant didn’t practice today, because of his sprained right wrist, but there are bigger issues. Phil Jackson was asked a simple question after practice today. Do the Lakers look better to him now than they did at the start of training camp? Here’s where Phil went with it…

“It was my feeling, from a conversation with Kobe (before training camp), that he was going to work at this thing and put his full being into this,” Jackson said. “Right now he’s having a hard time doing that.”

Wait, back up. Did Phil just say that Kobe’s problems are more mental than physical?

“Yeah, mentally getting himself here and playing hard.”

Uh oh.

And is this having a negative impact on the players?

“I think that they were, that they are, a little bit confused,” Jackson said. “Obviously (Bryant) hasn’t thrown his heart and soul into performing on the floor, and I think that hurts a little bit. I think they’re enjoying their time together right now. I think they liked the game. I think they had a good time together last night, and it was good for them. But I think there’s a certain sense of, `How does this all fit together?’ It’s just natural. They’re young and they haven’t seen a situation like this before.”

There’s not much reading between the lines needed here. Phil thinks Kobe is still sulking and isn’t giving the Lakers 100 percent. So, Jackson was asked, does he bear the responsibility to pull Kobe out of his funk?

“I think in a certain manner, yes,” Jackson said. “But in this regard, I’ve been working on it since June 1. Is that about the day the whole thing started? The issue started with Jerry West. … Here we are, going on June, July, August, September and October. Five months. So it’s a five-month, kind of, `What is it?’ situation. So we’re happy the season is starting and it’s real ball.”

Jackson was asked if he needed to go to Bryant and flat-out say, “You’re not going to be traded,” in hopes of getting Kobe focused on the Lakers.

“Well, those aren’t the words that Dr. Buss spoke,” Jackson said. “We made an agreement that’s honorable and we plan to honor that agreement. Chances are very slim (of a trade). When it’s fire-sale time, not too many people come out and deal honorably at fire-sale time. And this is not a fire-sale time.”

Jackson was asked if Buss’ comments in Hawaii, about trading Kobe and about loyalty, etc., had harmed the situation.

“I don’t want to respond to that, in those terms,” Jackson said. “I just think that Dr. Buss spoke the truth. The headlines might not have belied it.”

Finally, Jackson seemed to make a last-ditch effort to reach Kobe through the media and turn the situation around.

“This is Kobe’s legacy, the Lakers,” Jackson said. “This is where he’s grown up and gotten married and had kids, the whole bit. We’re still devoted to seeing that, hopefully, still be a part of what he is.”

And what about Kobe? He was in a good mood until Jackson’s comments were relayed to him. Afterward, not so much…

“That’s the least of his concerns, or anybody’s concerns,” Bryant said. “You don’t got to worry about that.”

Asked if he was worried that his situation might impact the team negatively, Bryant said, “I don’t know what situation you’re talking about. I told you, I’m not going to talk about it no more. Just because me not wanting to be a distraction. If they want to talk about it, if management wants to talk about it, then let them talk about it. I’m not going to let this linger. I’m not going to talk about it. I’m going to talk about the season and what we can do to get better, and that’s it.”

So, there you go. The wrist was too sore for Bryant to practice today. The Lakers are taking Sunday off and will practice Monday in preparation for Tuesday’s season opener. Bryant said he expects to play Tuesday, and Jackson agreed. At least they agree on something…

Kobe out tomorrow

Kobe Bryant has been diagnosed with a sprained right wrist. X-rays were negative but Bryant will not play in tomorrow night’s exhibition finale against Sacrament. Phil Jackson said he expects Bryant to practice Saturday and said he “anticipates” that Bryant will be able to play in Tuesday’s season opener.

Preseason game cancelled

Due to the fires in the San Diego area, the Lakers will not play Friday’s preseason game against Utah, which had been scheduled for the iPayOne Center in San Diego. Refunds for tickets will be available at the point of purchase and the Lakers have also made a $100,000 donation to the American Red Cross.

“There is simply too much devastation in the area and too much uncertainty about what will happen in the next few days,” said Tim Harris, the team’s Senior Vice President, Business Operations. “After many internal discussions about many different factors, we’ve concluded that this is simply the right thing to do. The people of San Diego have been very supportive of us over the years and in turn we want to be supportive of them in this time of crisis.”

Odom not ready?

Before tonight’s preseason game in Anaheim, coach Phil Jackson said Lamar Odom could miss the first five games (or two weeks) of the regular season. Odom is recovering from offseason shoulder surgery.

“It could be five games, it could be one or two games. We don’t know,” Jackson said. “It’ll just be until Lamar’s able to play and keep up with the game, and that may take a little bit of time. But we’ve been without him since we started training camp, so we have a way to play. Last year we played without Kobe and won our first two games of the season. So we know that there’s a way to patch this up if you’re ready to play.

“I know Lamar’s anxious to play, and he wanted to play in the opening game, but the consensus is to give him a little more time. I mean, he’s on the court and active with us in almost everything but the serious contact we get into.

“He did have a little bit of drill sequence two or three weeks ago where he got into some physical contact, and it was still evident that he wasn’t ready. So we backed off at that time considerably. But he’s still getting his running in and his shooting in, so I think it could be just a simple step to go back on the court and get back in the swing of it.”