Kobe Bryant left the Lakers’ exhibition game against Charlotte with 3:08 remaining in the half because of a hyper-extended knee. The Lakers trailed the Bobcats, 54-48, by halftime. Bryant scored four points on 2-for-4 shooting in 14 minutes, 24 seconds in the first half.
He did not rejoin the team on the bench for the second half.
The Lakers are set to take on the Charlotte Bobcats in the sixth of their eight exhibition games this month. They’re here in San Diego, one of America’s finest cities, playing inside the beat-up and beat-down San Diego Sports Arena.
The Clippers used to play here.
The San Diego State Aztecs used to play here, too.
The old barn is now more famous for playing the role of a 1970s arena in the movie “Almost Famous,” Cameron Crowe’s autobiographical film about his teenage years writing for Rolling Stone magazine in the early ’70s. Funny thing, it doesn’t look like they have updated much of anything in the place since the ’70s.
For instance, there’s a giant mural of the late “Greatful Dead” guitarist Jerry Garcia on one of the walls near the press workroom. So the arena has that going for it.
Ronny Turiaf is off in Golden State. Sasha Vujacic is working his way back form an ankle injury, but the Lakers so-called “Bench Mob” is still the Bench Mob until further notice.
“Absolutely,” point guard, and Bench Mob headliner Jordan Farmar said, when asked if the unit was keeping it’s name, despite losing Turiaf to the Warriors. “We do miss him though.”
Personality-wise, there’s probably no one in the league who could completely fill Ronny’s shoes. But on the court, now that Lamar Odom seems to have joined the youthful gang, the Lakers second-unit might even be better.
In Sunday’s exhibition win over the Raptors, the second unit turned a 70-70 tie into a 112-89 blowout win.
“I’ve always said, We’re only going to be a great team when we play well when Kobe is out of the game, because that instills fear in teams,” Odom said. `It gives them confidence when he’s (Kobe’s) the one who’s doing everything. When we’re out there moving the ball, playing well off the bench, it really destroys teams mentally.”
Apparently, the repairman was able to fix things on the Lakers “Machine” a bit ahead of schedule. Sasha Vujacic (ankle) returned to practice Monday morning, a bit ahead of schedule and was able to complete almost the entire practice.
“I did take a little break, I don’t want to go too crazy,” Vujacic said. “But I didn’t feel any sharp pain, so that’s good. There was a little discomfort, which is normal. We’ll just have to see if it swells up. If it does, we have to slow it down. But it feels good now.”
Vujacic has been out most of training camp with a sprained ankle, which he suffered on the first day of camp. After the ankle was slow to heal, he was re-examined and an avulsion fracture –where a thin piece of bone is peeled away by a ligament or tendon –was discovered. At that point, he was projected to miss 10-14 days. That was just six days ago.
“My goal is to be ready for the first game (on October 28),” he said. “And it’s going to take me two or three days of practice to come back into shape.”
Sasha Vujacic said Sunday night that he’s going to try and return to practice on Monday. How much he’ll be able to do is still to be determined.
“I’m going to see what I can do. It may not be 5-on-5 stuff,” he said Sunday.“We’ll just have to see.”
Vujacic sprained his ankle on the first day of camp. At the time, it was thought to be a minor issue. But when it was slow to heal, more tests were done and team doctors concluded he had what is called an avulsion fracture, which is when a tendon or ligament pulls away thin piece of bone is pulled away, and would miss 10-14 days.
Well, it hasn’t even been a week and Vujacic is already trying to make a return. Though judging by how anxious he seemed to get back into practice last week during practice, it’s not all that surprising.
Vujacic was constantly working out, whether it was biking, swimming or lifting weights. He’d shoot free throws or 3-pointers after practice and was still one of the last guys to leave the Lakers training facility every day.
Basically, because his contract took a little while to get done over the summer, Vujacic only went home to Slovenia for seven days. Then he was back in LA, working on his game and getting ready for training camp. After all that, with the excitement around the Lakers season at a fever pitch, he gets hurt on the first day of practice.
The Lakers have three exhibition games this week. Sasha wouldn’t commit to how many he’d play in, but said his goal was to get some rhythm back before the Lakers season opener on October 28.
Here’s what Toronto coach Sam Mitchell had to say about the Lakers front court of Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol:
“They make our two big guys (Jermaine O’Neal and Chris Bosh) look small. But again, the good thing is that we play them only twice a year. The Lakers are obviously the best basketball team with or without Bynum. It just makes them bigger and athletic, which is the reason why they went to the Finals last year.”
The Lakers second unit of Lamar Odom, Jordan Farmar, Chris Mihm, Luke Walton and Trevor Ariza, has been strong once again. Since the group came win with 2 minutes, 41 seconds to go in the third quarter, the Lakers have outscored the Raptors 22-10.
With 7:31 to go in the game, it’s Lakers 92, Raptors 80