OK, the regular season is really here, though we’ll probably be a little late in getting off the ground here tonight since the Boston-Cleveland game is going a bit long and the Lakers won’t start until it’s finished. But just to get you ready, here is the starting lineup for tonight, as well as the inactives. Elliott and I will be doing this before every game, usually about 30-40 minutes before the game starts.
Those of you into fantasy hoops know just how valuable that can be…
I’ve been meaning to write this for weeks but never found the right outlet and just can’t bear to keep it in the can any longer because it’s too funny. But the other day, a bunch of us reporter types were chatting with Sasha Vujacic after practice, mostly about the Lakers season, what they could do, what the expectations are for the team. Then we got into how last season ended and Sasha immediately got serious, proclaiming pretty resolutely that he’s taken a personal vow not to wear green, the Boston Celtics colors, this year.
Seriously, no green. Not a thread of it.
“I’m serious about it,” he said, very seriously. “No green.”
You can always tell things are getting serious around Lakers camp when the size of the pack of reporters at the training facility swells from a manageable 8-10 to a madhouse 20-30, as there were today as the Lakers finished their final practice before tommorrow’s season opener against Portland.
Really though, things have been pretty serious for the last month or so as Phil Jackson put the team through one of its more rigorous training camps in recent memory. All told, the Lakers skipped just two scheduled practice sessions. They went through all six days of double-days, which is quite rare around the NBA. And on several occasions, spent extended time after practice doing extra conditioning or shooting.
Why the boot camp mentality?
“I think he (Phil Jackson) wanted to make sure that even though he anticipated we were going to be even hungrier to go this year, as a coach he has a responsibility and he wants to make sure we respect the fact that we’re not going to just walk back to the NBA Finals, we’re going to have to work to get there,” point guard Derek Fisher said.
“That’s the message to us. There really aren’t any days off in an NBA season. You can take a day off from practice, but there’s still have to mental and physical preparation off the court that’s necessary to remain at the top of your game.
“We don’t mind it. We want to be champions and we know that putting the work in is a part of it.”
The Lakers have waived guard Coby Karl to get their roster down to 14 players. Karl, in contention for a roster spot throughout the preseason, averaged 1.8 points and 0.8 rebounds in 4.2 minutes in 17 games last season.
Interesting article in the Memphis Commercial Appeal on Pau Gasol’s younger brother Marc, who was a part of the trade that brought Pau to Los Angeles last year.
Here’s an excerpt:
The Grizzlies tried telling anyone who would listen that the 23-year-old Gasol, Pau’s younger brother, was more than just a throw-in to complete the infamous February trade between Memphis and the Los Angeles Lakers.
Now, teammates and coaches not only count the ways Marc is different from Pau, but believe his attributes make him a more-than-serviceable player to man the middle.
Albeit in only a month, Marc Gasol has revealed unabashed toughness, passable rebounding and defense, gifted passing skills and a feathery shooting touch from mid-range.
The 7-1, 280-pounder dominated an unscientific, team-wide poll, making Gasol the pick for the fourth-annual Don Poier “Pride of Training Camp” Award. Gasol earned an honor not sanctioned by the team but intended to recognize consistency and growth on the cusp of a new season.
Lamar Odom says he’s embraced his new role as the sixth man.
Here’s what he had to say before Friday’s exhibition finale, a win over Oklahoma City:
“Really comfortable. Whatever the team needs me to do, that’s what I’m going to do. To be successful and play for championships, that doesn’t come around too often, you know what I’m saying? Whatever it takes. You know, I’m a humble dude. I put my ego aside.
“Playing quality minutes and helping a team, everybody knows the guys who help out and play a big part on the team. No matter whether I start or finish or fall in between, whatever I’ve got to do to help the team that’s what I’m doing.
“The beautiful thing about my game is that I can fill any role. Not too many players can do that. Not too many players have the humility to come off the bench without a problem after they’ve started their whole careers.”
Odom had eight points, four assists, three rebounds and three steals in 21 minutes during the Lakers’ victory over Oklahoma City in Ontario.
Here’s an excerpt of the story in the Great Falls (Mont.) Gazette:
The Los Angeles Lakers point guard was on the reservation on behalf of the Barack Obama campaign. Fisher said he volunteered his services to campaign officials, thinking he would be dispatched to events in southern California or his hometown of Little Rock, Ark.
“I had no idea it would turn into these type of opportunities,” he said, adding that he is humbled by the campaign’s trust in him.
The Lakers put a merciful end to training camp and exhibition play with a 105-94 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder at the new arena in Ontario. Andrew Bynum showed what he can do when the opposition has no one big enough or strong enough to keep him out of the paint. Bynum had 23 points on 10-for-15 shooting and eight rebounds in 29 minutes.
Here are a few other random thoughts:
–Jordan Farmar continued his fine play with 14 points on 7-for-9 shooting. He’s playing with a newfound confidence that bodes well for him and the Bench Mob.
–Kobe Bryant played only the game’s first 7:55 and reported no troubles with his hyperextended right knee. He was hurt in Tuesday’s win over the Charlotte Bobcats in San Diego and could not play in Thursday’s victory over the Bobcats in Anaheim.
After the game, Bryant said:
“I felt great. That’s what I wanted to see, how it felt. It felt fine. It was important to get off it, ice it down. … Just making sure the rhythm was good and the knee was good. … It felt good. It felt fine. I just wanted to test it out, making sure it was OK.”
–Trevor Ariza continued to make his case for extended minutes, scoring 10 points and taking eight rebounds.
The Clippers released 1,000 seats in all price categories previously held for package sales for the October 29 game against the Lakers. To purchase tickets, call 800-4-NBA TIX or visit www.ticketmaster.com
Kobe Bryant will play in tonight’s exhibition finale against the Oklahoma City Thunder after sitting out Thursday’s victory over the Charlotte Bobcats because of swelling stemming from a hyperextended right knee. Bryant was hurt in Tuesday’s win over Charlotte.
Meanwhile, Sasha Vujacic will make his exhibition debut after missing the first seven games because of a left ankle injury. He sprained his ankle on the opening day of training camp Sept. 30, and a subsequent MRI exam revealed an existing avulsion fracture.
The Thunder used to be the Seattle SuperSonics before they left the Emerald City for Oklahoma City during the offseason.