Pau Gasol and fellow 7-footer Andrew Bynum were scratched from tonight’s exhibition against the Denver Nuggets at the Honda Center. Gasol sat out for the fifth consecutive game because of a strained right hamstring. He had hoped to play tonight, but Lakers coach Phil Jackson and the athletic training staff decided against it. Bynum suffered a right rotator cuff injury during the Lakers’ victory Tuesday over the Golden State Warriors. Gasol also won’t play tonight against the Nuggets in San Diego. Bynum’s status was day-to-day.
The Lakers won’t raise their 2008-09 championship banner until opening night next Tuesday at Staples Center. They will hold a formal ceremony, raising the banner and handing out championship rings before facing the Clippers. However, that didn’t stop the team from hanging their four most-recent title banners in the gym at their practice facility this week.The Lakers plan to hang banners for all 15 of the franchise’s titles, but they got started with the four won while Phi Jackson has been the team’s coach.
The Lakers waived guard Thomas Kelati today, trimming their roster to 14 players. Kelati, a 6-foot-5 guard from Washington State, played in five exhibitions and averaged 1.6 points. In other news, Andrew Bynum did not practice after suffering a strained right rotator cuff in the Lakers’ victory Tuesday over the Golden State Warriors. Tony Gaffney also did not practice after suffering a bruised lower back during a fall late in Tuesday’s game.
ONTARIO — In the end, the Lakers’ late arrival tonight didn’t hurt them in the least and they won their fifth exhibition in six tries. Kobe Bryant led them with 21 points on 7-for-12 shooting, and Andrew Bynum had 20 points and nine rebounds. Lamar Odom had 16 points in his first game since suffering a bruised right calf in last Thursday’s victory over the Sacramento Kings in Las Vegas.
Bryant said after the game he wasn’t motivated by critical comments made by Golden State’s Stephen Jackson earlier in the week. Ron Artest wasn’t so sure, however.
“He always finds a reason,” Artest said of Bryant. “You looked at me the wrong way? All right, I’m going to give you 40. Oh, you don’t want to say my last name, I’m giving you 40. He just always finds a reason. The Black Mamba always finds a reason. He’s unbelievable. Oh, you don’t want to speak to me? The Black Mamba, he’s special.”
Lakers coach Phil Jackson wasn’t unaware of Jackson’s comments about Bryant until reporters relayed them to him after the game. Then he said, “That will motivate Kobe. I was wondering why he was so hyped up before the start of the game.”
ONTARIO — The Lakers didn’t get much of a warmup tonight after they got stuck in traffic on the Pomona Freeway. They didn’t seem to need much of one, however. They raced to a 17-4 lead over the Golden State Warriors at Citizens Business Bank Arena. Kobe Bryant and Andrew Bynum scored 14 points apiece to lead the tardy Lakers. Anthony Morrow had led the Warriors with 11 points. The Lakers spent 2 1/2 hours on the bus, arriving at 6:20 p.m. for the 7:15 tipoff. They had hoped to arrive in about half that time, but were delayed by a multi-car accident and a brushfire in Diamond Bar.
SI picks the Lakers to beat the San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference finals and the Boston Celtics to outlast the the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference finals. The magazine then picks the Celtics to beat the Lakers in the Finals. Don’t get mad. Consider the source. This is the magazine that once picked the University of Oregon to win the national title in college football. The mag hits newsstands and mailboxes Wednesday.
Last time, the Lakers faced the Golden State Warriors, Stephen Jackson picked up five fouls and one technical while attempting to guard Kobe Bryant. Jackson went to the bench after 9 minutes, 20 seconds, got into a shouting match with Golden State coach Don Nelson and spent the rest of the game in the locker room. He later drew a two-game suspension for “conduct detrimental to the team.”
Jackson vowed things would be different when he and the Warriors face Bryant and the Lakers tonight in Ontario. Losing one’s composure in an exhibition game is probably something to avoid once. Twice might indicate something’s seriously wrong.
Anyway, here’s some of what Jackson told a Bay Area reporter Monday: “I’m going to be me, but I guarantee I won’t feed into the nonsense. If it came down to a real fight, I know what would happen. I’m just going to leave that alone, go out and play basketball and try to help my team win.”
Apparently, Jackson believed Bryant dissed him and the referees called it one-sided.
“I love competing against and guarding the best guy,” Jackson said. “I just don’t like being treated like I’m less. If I play against a guy, we both play the same, physical game. We are treated the same, and (if) he outplays me, I’ll give him his props. But if the game is being called one-sided and I’m not being treated fairly, I’m going to be upset.”
Ron Artest got word today that a friend from his childhood was killed in an act of street violence. He was unsure about the details, but he believed Mike Chatfield was killed in a shooting. Artest learned the game from Chatfield while growing up in the Queensbridge section of Queens, N.Y. “We would play and he would beat me, 32-zip,” Artest recalled.
Artest went on to play at St. John’s and in the NBA. Chatfield stayed behind on the streets, where he became something of a playground legend. He also had trouble with the law and served time in prison. “I think the streets got him,” Artest said. “He got killed. So, I’ll dedicate some of this season to him, my boy.”
Chatfield’s name first surfaced when Artest spoke of him during the Lakers-Houston Rockets playoff series. He said Brandon Roy of the Portland Trail Blazers was the toughest player he’s had to guard in his NBA career. He then mentioned Chatfield as the toughest player he ever played against anywhere.
The medical news was mixed today. Lamar Odom (calf) practiced with his teammates and might play Tuesday night in the Lakers’ exhibition game against the Golden State Warriors in Ontario. Pau Gasol (hamstring) and Luke Walton (back) went through a limited workout, but they were said to be doubtful to play against the Warriors. There’s not a pressing need for any of the three to play. Better to get them right for the season opener Oct. 27.
The Lakers rallied from a 15-point deficit to improve to 4-1 in exhibition play. Andrew Bynum and Shannon Brown scored 20 points apiece to lead the Lakers. Adam Morrison added 14 points and Ron Artest had 13. Bynum also grabbed a team-leading 13 rebounds. Craig Smith led the Clippers with 26 points. Blake Griffin had 13 points, including a monster dunk over Lakers 7-footer DJ Mbenga. Griffin led the Clippers (4-2) with 12 rebounds.