Clippers 107, Lakers 91

Lakers coach Phil Jackson said Sasha Vujacic might miss the first round of the playoffs after suffering a sprained left ankle. X-rays were negative and an MRI exam was scheduled for Thursday. Ron Artest also tweaked an ankle, but it wasn’t nearly as bad. Vujacic left the locker room on crutches. He rode in an electric cart to get from the locker room to his car, which was parked on the Staples Center loading dock. The Lakers also were without Kobe Bryant (ankle, finger, knee) and Andrew Bynum (Achilles tendon). Jordan Farmar played only 1.3 seconds at the end of the half after straining a hamstring Tuesday. Oh, and Luke Walton’s back stiffened up and he played only limited minutes in the second half.

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First-round playoff schedule

Here’s the Lakers-Oklahoma City Thunder first-round playoff schedule:

Game 1, Sunday at Staples Center, noon (ABC).
Game 2, Tuesday at Staples Center, 7:30 p.m. (TNT, FSN).
Game 3, Thursday at OKC, 6:30 p.m. (TNT, KCAL-Channel 9)
Game 4, April 24 at OKC, 6:30 p.m. (ESPN, KCAL-Channel 9).
Game 5, April 27 at Staples Center (time and TV TBD).
Game 6, April 30 at OKC (time and TV TBD).
Game 7, May 2 at Staples Center (time and TV TBD).
All times PDT.

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Sasha hurting

The injury bug took another bite out of the Lakers tonight, when Sasha Vujacic turned his left ankle when he landed on the foot of Clippers forward DeAndre Jordan in the second quarter. Vujacic was fouled on the play but could not attempt the free throws, so he’s out for the rest of tonight’s game. It means Jordan Farmar might get to play after all. Farmar strained his left hamstring in Tuesday’s win over the Sacramento Kings. He played the final 1.3 seconds of the first half to become one of four Lakers to play all 82 games this season.

Clippers lead at halftime, 52-49.

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Lakers 106, Kings 100

First things first, Jordan Farmar said he strained his left hamstring after missing a layup in the second quarter but planned to play in Wednesday’s game against the Clippers. Second, the Lakers spread the minutes around during their victory tonight over the Sacramento Kings. Pau Gasol scored 28 points in only 32 minutes, 15 seconds. Shannon Brown had 24 points in almost 42 minutes. Sasha Vujacic had 13 points, a season-high, in 26 minutes. Beno Udrih had 21 points for the Kings.

Here’s a quote from Lamar Odom that summed up his feelings on the game:

“I look at it, honestly, like we’re practicing against the other team. You want to run all the sets and do everything the right way. We want to play almost how we play in practice. It’s just a practice in front of 20,000 people.”

Also, I spoke to Andrew Bynum after the game and his run on the treadmill went well and he expects to participate in some on-court activities at Wednesday morning’s shootaround. He has been out since March 19 because of a strained left Achilles tendon.

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Halftime: Lakers 60, Kings 54

The Lakers’ big goals going into tonight’s glorified exhibition against the Sacramento Kings at Staples Center were to avoid injuries and get a victory. They looked good one one count, and not so good on the other. They had a modest lead at halftime, but lost Jordan Farmar to a strained left hamstring. Farmar won’t play in Wednesday’s regular-season finale against the Clippers, a team spokesman said. Meanwhile, Pau Gasol scored 13 points and grabbed six rebounds to lead the Lakers. Shannon Brown added 12 points on 5-for-10 shooting. Kobe Bryant did not play in order to rest several nagging injuries. He also won’t play against the Clippers. Jason Thompson led the Kings with 15 points.

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Heading to Europe (Updated)

Lakers coach Phil Jackson delivered the scoop on this back in October, but the team will head to London and Barcelona to play two exhibitions next October. The NBA finally got around to releasing the details this morning. The Lakers will face Kurt Rambis and the Minnesota Timberwolves on Oct. 4 in London and then travel to Pau Gasol’s native Spain to play Regal FC Barcelona on Oct. 7 at the Palau Sant Jordi. No word yet on the Lakers’ other exhibitions. Usually, they make a tour of Southern California and Las Vegas.

UPDATE: The Lakers released the rest of their exhibition schedule this afternoon.

Here it is:
Oct. 13, vs. Sacramento Kings, Las Vegas, 7 p.m.
Oct. 16. vs. Nuggets, Jazz or Clippers, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 17. vs. Nuggets, Jazz or Clippers, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 19. vs. Utah Jazz, Honda Center, 7 p.m.
Oct. 21. vs. Golden State Warriors, San Diego, 7 p.m.
Oct. 22. vs. Golden State Warriors, Citizens Business Bank Arena, 7 p.m.

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Conspiracy theory

Full disclosure, I don’t believe in conspiracy theories in general. Oswald killed Kennedy. Alone. Ruby killed Oswald. Alone. That’s what I believe. You can’t change my mind.

Now, about Sunday’s loss to the Portland Trail Blazers. … I have no evidence for what I’m about to suggest. Just tossing a theory out there for you gentle readers to chew on. It starts with a question. Do you think the Lakers dumped the game in order to avoid the Trail Blazers in the first round of the playoffs? If you’re the Lakers, wouldn’t you rather face the inexperienced Oklahoma City Thunder than the Blazers or the San Antonio Spurs? Beating Portland Sunday would have all but ensured a Lakers-Blazers matchup.

Let’s review. Kobe Bryant shanks two free throws. Derek Fisher bricks one of two. Bryant makes 81 percent and Fisher 85 percent. So that’s plenty weird, right? Then Fisher sticks out a mitt and fouls Martel Webster, who is trying some ridiculous off-one-foot 3-pointer with time running out. Why not let him shoot that mess, right?

Webster hits all three free throws to give the Blazers a 91-88 lead.

During the ensuing 20-second timeout, Lakers coach Phil Jackson designs a play for Pau Gasol to take a 3-pointer from straight away. This is the same Pau Gasol who is 0-for-4 on 3s this season. The same Pau Gasol who admitted he doesn’t even practice 3s. The same Pau Gasol, who usually catches the inbounds pass from Lamar Odom or Ron Artest and feeds a crisp pass to Bryant for the winning jump shot at the buzzer. Gasol missed his shot a bit long and the Lakers fall to the Blazers, who now have a terrific chance to move up and avoid the Lakers in the opening round of the playoffs.

So, am I wrong to raise an eyebrow at the endgame Sunday? You tell me.

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Kobe will miss final two

Kobe Bryant decided to sit out the Lakers’ final two regular-season games. Officially, he will not play against the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday and the Clippers on Wednesday in order to give his broken right index finger a rest before the playoffs begin Sunday. He missed two games last week in order to rest his swollen right knee. Bryant informed Lakers coach Phil Jackson of his decision via a text message hours after Sunday’s game against the Portland Trail Blazers. Bryant was unavailable for comment today.

“Well, certainly I’m concerned about it, but I’m not worried about it that much,” Jackson said. “We’ll have practice time. There should be two or three days in between (the end of the regular season and the start of the playoffs). … Yeah, I think he’s a little worn down.”

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Blazers 91, Lakers 88

Pau Gasol didn’t mince words after the Lakers bungled today’s game against the Portland Trail Blazers by missing late free throws and fouling a guy trying an off-balance 3-pointer in the dying seconds. Here’s how the 7-foot center described the Lakers: “We are not playing as well as we were last year. We are more banged up than we were last year. We had Andrew Bynum out (because of a knee injury), but we have guys struggling with injuries and we are trying to get them back in the game. We all want to be healthy for that last run.”

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Pregame tidbits

Kobe Bryant will play today against the Portland Trail Blazers after sitting out the last two games because of swelling in his right knee. He was dressed in his uniform when reporters entered the locker room for the pregame access period this morning. … Lamar Odom was a late arrival, reportedly because of heavy traffic. … Lakers coach Phil Jackson said he planned to play his regular rotations and would not go easy on the Trail Blazers, who are locked in a battle with Oklahoma City and San Antonio for sixth place in the Western Conference. … A Lakers victory today would be a damaging blow to the Trail Blazers, who hope to avoid falling to eighth and playing the defending champs in the first round.

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