They were up, then they were down before they went up ahead. Finally, the Lakers got ahead of the Orlando Magic and stayed there, winning thanks in part to a 15-0 run to start the fourth quarter tonight. The Lakers reached the midway point of their season with a three-game winning streak and a 32-9 record, best in the NBA. Now, the big question is: Are they ready for their eight-game trip, which starts Thursday in Cleveland?
Said Lakers coach Phil Jackson: “I’m not totally sure about that. I’m not so happy about the way we’re playing. We’ve had some inconsistent games right now. I think we need to play a stronger game. Defensively there are some lapses out there that I’m not happy about.”
Getting Kobe Bryant back to something resembling good health certainly would aid the Lakers as they travel to Cleveland, New York, Toronto, Washington, Indiana, Philadelphia, Boston and Memphis over the next two weeks. Bryant got smacked on his fractured right index finger tonight and scored only 11 points on 4-for-19 shooting.