SALT LAKE CITY — Kobe Bryant didn’t play tonight for the third consecutive game, which was probably the right move in the long run. His sprained left ankle might also keep him out of the All-Star game Sunday, which also might not be such a bad thing for the Lakers. It might bum out the 100,000 or so fans who are expected to attend the game at the Dallas Cowboys new stadium in Arlington, Tex., and it might disappoint TV viewers. But it should make Lakers fans happy to know Bryant is resting his ankle and not hurting it further.
The Lakers showed they could win without him in hostile territory, beating the Trail Blazers on Saturday and ending their nine-game losing streak in Portland. They also cooled off the Utah Jazz on their home court, ending their nine-game wining streak. They did it with Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom guiding them with monster games. Gasol had 22 points, 19 rebounds, four assists and five blocks. Odom had 25 points and 11 rebounds. Jordan Farmar added 18 points on 7-for-11 shooting in a reserve role.
“We decided we weren’t going to complain or lose our focus,” Odom said. “We kind of stayed poised. … This is a good team no matter who’s in or who’s out of the lineup. We have a lot of guys who can play. Sometimes when you lose a guy or two, your focus is there as a team. In this building, it’s kind of easy to get embarrassed and run out of the here. We just wanted to finish the right way right before the break.”