About the shoes

Kobe Bryant is set to debut his new eyebrow-raising low-top shoes tonight against the Miami Heat. Trevor Ariza will also don a pair.

Kobe will actually be wearing a pair of limited edition version of his new Kobe IV called the “Venom.” His nickname is Mamba, get the reference?

There were only 48 pairs of Venoms made for sale. 24 went on sale in Miami today, 12 on his website kb24.com and 12 at a shoe store in Los Angeles.

Trevor Ariza is wearing a regular version of the new Kobe IV.

Kobe will also be wearing a special red bracelet made for him by a woman named Brenda Klopfstein, who suffers from ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease). Kobe met Brenda after the Lakers game against the Knicks on Tuesday. The meeting was facilitated by the Dream Foundation.

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It could be worse…

There’s been a bug in the Lakers locker room the last couple of days. Lamar Odom and Pau Gasol have been the most high profile victims…

But according to this report out of Indianapolis, it could be worse.

Indiana Pacers will be very shorthanded tonight against the Los Angeles Clippers.
Starters Troy Murphy, Marquis Daniels and Danny Granger are hospitalized, getting treatment for flu-like symptoms, Pacers coach Jim O’Brien said.

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Pau Gasol will play tonight

Lakers forward Pau Gasol said he will play tonight against the Miami Heat after missing Tuesday’s game against the Knicks and Wednesday’s practice with a case of strep throat.

“I feel good. I feel a lot better,” Gasol said. “I took my medicine, I’ve been getting my rest. i took care of myself and I should be better to get back out there.”

Gasol said he stayed in bed most of Tuesday and Wedesday before boarding a flight to Miami on Thursday morning. He worked out a bit when the Lakers landed Thursday evening and participated in shoot-around Friday afternoon.

The two days he was out of commission were pretty miserable though.

“Your throat gets really sore, you can’t really swallow anything, and you get a bad fever for a couple of days,” he said. “I tried (to play Tuesday). I went to Staples to evaluate myself and realized I wasn’t going to do it.

“I watched it at home. …There was a little too much interest. When we fell behind by 15 I was not too happy but we were able to come back in the second half and get the win.”

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Walton’s stalker pleads no contest

The woman charged with stalking Lakers forward Luke Walton pleaded no contest today and was ordered to stay away from him for three years.

The woman, Stacy Elizabeth Beshear, 35 of El Segundo entered the plea to one count of misdemeanor stalking before Judge Hector Guzman, according to Deputy District Attorney Ann Ambrose, of the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office Stalking Unit.

Beshear was sentenced to three years probation, ordered to attend weekly counseling sessions for one year and ordered to stay away from Walton’s home, the Lakers practice facility in El Segundo and Laker games for three years.

Beshear was arrested Sept. 18 after she pulled up to his car and pretended to fire gunshots at him with her hand, officials said.

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Luke Walton: “From DNP to PT”

Luke Walton posted a new blog entry over on NBA.com in which he discusses the wide range of emotions that went through high during his mini stint at the end of the Lakers bench at the start of the season.

“How does it feel to be playing again? Well, let’s just say the food tastes a little better, the weather is a little nicer and the L.A. freeway traffic isn’t so bad after all,” he writes.

“Are you kidding? I’m having a blast out there playing again. It’s why you dedicate the countless hours of practice, physical and mental preparation along with conditioning because you never know when you will receive the call to action.

“I was definitely surprised when Phil told me I was starting against the Suns last week. I didn’t even see it coming.”

He also discusses his relationship with Vladimir Radmanovic, who essentially traded places with him and now finds himself at the end of the bench.

“There isn’t any awkwardness between us,” Walton writes. “Vlade and I are very close. Who plays and doesn’t play is not our decision. When Vlade was playing instead of me, I wasn’t mad at him. We all want to play. If the coach is playing him, I’m on the bench cheering for him, hoping he’s making his shots, and excited for him when he’s plays a good game and vice versa.”

He also offers some thoughts on the Lakers upcoming Christmas Day game against the Celtics, and admits that the Celtics and Cleveland Cavaliers are “playing better than us right now.”

“Even though we feel like we have the deepest and most talented team in the NBA, at 21-3, we’re not fooled by our record,” Walton writes. “We know Boston and Cleveland are playing better than us right now. We know that our defense has to get a lot better and a lot more consistent if we’re going to have an opportunity to reach the Finals and win it.

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If you’re going to South Beach…

… make sure to read any and all posted signs in a parking lot, then go and look for hidden signs so you avoid the fate that befell myself and a colleague tonight. Apparently towing cars is a fairly popular –and lucrative — activity down here.

Anyway, Elliott is off this week on a well-deserved vacation, so I’ll be taking you through the week. As you’ve guessed, I’ve started this trip out on a high note…At least the weather is an upgrade over the arctic blast we’ve had out in LA the last few days.

After an extended set of games against a dreadful set of teams, the Lakers say they’re happy to be out on the road and facing some superior competition. Fortunately, the Knicks gave them a run for their Monday on Tuesday, which brought out some fight and fire in them.

To win on the road though, they’ll really have to turn up the defensive intensity.

First up on this trip is the Miami Heat, the Dwyane Wade-led bunch which reminds some people of the Lakers of a few years ago

The Lakers landed here in Miami Thursday afternoon and the quarter of the team that’s sick tried to catch some rest and recover from the bug that’s been going around the locker room.

Pau Gasol, who missed Tuesday’s game against the Knicks with strep throat, made the trip but it’s not certain whether he’ll be able to go Friday against the Heat.

Kobe Bryant, on the other hand, was a bundle of energy. Bryant made a surprise appearance at Dillard High in Ft. Lauderdale Friday night to meet with Florida’s 2007-08 boys’ state championship basketball team.

Dillard’s basketball team is one of the premier programs in the state of Florida, garnering four titles in a row from 2001 – 2004, and again this past season.

Kobe does a bunch of these type of events at high schools around the country as part of his community outreach efforts.

Anyway, if I was smart I’d try and convert over to East Coast time now and head for bed. I’ll have an update on Pau Gasol’s status before the game tommorrow.

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Gasol joins teammates

Just got word that Pau Gasol joined his teammates for their flight to Miami this morning. It shouldn’t have come as a surprise, but strep throat is nothing to mess around with at this time of year. It forced him to sit out of Tuesday’s victory over the Knicks and he did not attend Wednesday’s practice. Lamar Odom, who also has been ill, said he expected to play more minutes than ususal even if Gasol was able to start Friday against Miami.

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Practice tidbits

Not all that much to report from practice, other than the fact both Derek Fisher and Pau Gasol skipped it today. Fisher was given the day off. Gasol is still recovering from the strep throat which caused him to miss Tuesday’s game against the Knicks.

The Lakers hope Gasol will be well enough to play in Miami on Friday, but aren’t sure yet. They fly out tommorrow at 10 a.m.

The source of the bug which seems to be spreading around the locker room is still unclear. Some fingers have pointed to Lamar Odom, who has been sick for a few days now. If that’s the case, Andrew Bynum better be getting his Vitamin C. Odom said that he was sitting next to Bynum when he threw up into a towel in last night’s game.

Bynum said he didn’t even notice, but was mildly grossed out upon hearing about it.

Practice wrapped up quickly for the starters (except Luke Walton), but many of the reserves stayed on the court well past 2 p.m. in a five-on-five game. No biggie, except that it delayed the start of the D-Fenders practice for quite a while.

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A wild win

The Lakers rallied from a 15-point deficit to beat the New York Knicks, 116-114, on Tuesday night at Staples Center. And get this, they got booed off the court by another demanding sellout crowd after trailing by 65-50 at halftime.

“You can’t say we don’t have character,” said Trevor Ariza, who gave the Lakers the lead for good with a layup off a lob pass from Lamar Odom with 1:03 remaining. “It’s another type of game we can try to learn from.”

Give the Lakers credit. They seem to understand they are very much a work in progress.

Odom stepped up and had a season-best 17 points and a team-leading 12 rebounds in his first start of the season. He replaced power forward Pau Gasol, who was sent home before the game because of a case of strep throat.

Kobe Bryant said this about Odom: “He played extremely well, really hard, and did a great job for us. Pau, he’s tough to replace because of what he brings to the team: his post presence, his ability to pass the ball and rebound. We just have another player, a different kind of player (in Odom).”

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Halftime: Knicks 65, Lakers 50

The New York Knicks torched the Pau Gasol-less Lakers en route to a 15-point lead in the first half, hitting 11 of 23 3-pointers. Nate Robinson had 18 points in a reserve role for New York, and Quentin Richardson added 16. Kobe Bryant had 11 points and Lamar Odom and Luke Walton had nine apiece. Odom replaced Gasol, who sat out because of strep throat.

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