Wow, what a turn-around. Denver led by as many as 17 points in the first half, but the Lakers blitzed them in the second half. Kobe Bryant had 24 points, 7 assists and six rebounds, but didn’t even play in the fourth quarter.
Another big night from Andrew Bynum, who posted his ninth double-double of the season and fifth in the last six games.
Sasha Vujacic had a career-high 22 points and seemed to be shooting like the basket was a hula hoop.
Rookie Javaris Crittenton made a push for more playing time, or at the very least, a case against a D-League assignment with an explosive five minutes of garbage time play. Crittenton had seven points in five minutes, including the play of the night. He went behind his back twice on a fast break, then found Vujacic for the lay-up.
Lakers head off to Utah for a game tommorrow night, so it was nice to get the starters some rest in the fourth quarter.
The team comes back to Staples for a game against Orlando on Dec. 2. Here’s looking forward to the Andrew Bynum -Dwight Howard matchup!
It took a while for both the Lakers and the Nuggets to get started Thursday night. Unfortunately for the Lakers, Denver got untracked a lot faster.
Denver jumped out to a 33-21 lead at the end of the first quarter behind nine points from All Star guard Allen Iverson.
The Lakers had a hard time hitting shots and hanging onto the ball, committing six turnovers in the first seven and a half minutes, but managed to keep the game close because Kobe Bryant hit 5 of 8 shots in the quarter.
It didn’t hurt that Dever’s leading scorer, Carmelo Anthony picked up two early fouls and played just eight minutes.
Both teams came into the game looking to build some momentum after an up-and-down first month of the season. Like the Lakers, Denver opened the year on a roll, going 7-3 out of the gate, only slip back a bit after bing hit by a variety of injuries.
The Nuggets got one of those injured players back Thursday. Oft-injured forward Kenyon Martin was back in the starting lineup after missing Tuesday’s game against Indiana.
Phil Jackson was asked whether this two-year extension would be the last contract he ever signed, which was a clever way of asking him whether he planned to retire after the 2010 season, when he’d be 64.
Phil, as usual, didn’t take the bait.
“Maybe the 60s in this era are the 50s in another era. Maybe I can go on into my 70s, but I don’t think so. … I can hardly keep up with these kids anymore. I can hardly speak their language as it is.”
Ramona Shelburne here, filling in for our fearless blogger Rich Hammond, who has moved up a chair tonight to give Elliott Teaford a much-deserved night off before the Lakers hit the road.
The big story this evening was Phil Jackson’s decision to sign a two-year contract extension and everyone had an opinion.
Lamar Odom called the news, “awesome.”
“He’s a championship coach,” Odom said. “He’s got a lot of insight, a lot of wisdom. His record speaks for itself.”
Asked whether he was surprised Phil decided to coach another two years after all the health issues he’s dealt with the last couple of years, Odom said, “It makes sense to me. His mentor (Tex Winter) is 80-something years old and he’s still got a lot of energy.”
The Lakers have assigned rookie guard Coby Karl to the D-Fenders, their team in the D-League. It’s no surprise at all, given that Karl appeared in only two games this season. The bigger question is, what happens to Javaris Crittenton? He’s been on the floor for a total of 19 minutes this season. Even though he certainly learns a lot by practicing with the Lakers, is he really being best served by sitting at the end of the bench in a suit? I guess we’ll find out…
No real news from Phil Jackson’s pregame media session, other than that Kwame Brown is making faster-than-expected progress in recovering from his ankle and knee injuries. There is no firm date, however, on when Brown will return.
Jackson touched on something that I also mentioned in today’s Daily News article. Kobe Bryant was stone-cold from the field for three quarters Sunday against New Jersey, but he still took 16 shots. Meanwhile, Derek Fisher and Lamar Odom were hot and they only had 13 shots between them for the game. There’s nothing new here. The idea of teammates standing around, watching Kobe — or, perhaps, Kobe not passing enough — has been a theme since the late 1990s.
“The other night, everybody shot the ball well except Kobe,” Jackson said. “One of the things we have to look at is our distribution of shots. If he’s not shooting well, somebody has to pick up the slack.”
Seattle, which is 2-12, wouldn’t figure to present a problem for the Lakers, but there is one potentially rough matchup. In Durant and Wilcox, the Sonics have two big, quick post players.
“It’s a tough matchup,” Jackson said. “They have two power forwards, one at center and one at power forward, who run very well. Andrew (Bynum) is going to be challenged to get back on defense but he’s going to have an advantage offensively.”
Check out www.dailynews.com/sports for quarter-by-quarter updates on tonight’s game.
A long practice for the Lakers today, not shocking since a) they’ve lost three in a row and b) their practice time has been limited of late by travel. Today was a good opportunity for Trevor Ariza to get used to his new teammates on the court. Much of the post-practice conversation today centered around Lamar Odom and what the Lakers need to do to stop this three-game skid.
The question about Phil Jackson’s future with the Lakers came up again tonight, before the game against New Jersey. Jackson had previously indicated that he would make a decision about accepting a contract extension some time around Thanksgiving, but dodged the question after Friday’s loss to Boston. It came up again tonight, and not only did Jackson not give an answer either way, he indicated that he wouldn’t be giving a public answer anytime soon. Jackson stuck to his familiar refrain, which is that his decision will be based on how he feels and whether or not he feels he is the right coach for this team. It seems as though Jackson wants to buy himself a little more time and see how this season plays itself out…