SAN DIEGO — Phil Jackson came down with flu-like symptoms and won’t coach the team in tonight’s exhibition game against the Golden State Warriors, a Lakers spokesman said. Brian Shaw will handle the coaching duties in Jackson’s absence. It’s not known if he will be available to coach the team in its exhibition finale against the Warriors in Ontario. Jackson last missed a game April 9 in Portland because of swelling in his lower right leg.
Also, the Lakers waived free agents Trey Johnson and Andrew Naymick.
Lakers coach Phil Jackson and photographer Andy Bernstein have collaborated on a fine book called “Journey to the Ring,” which chronicles (in Jackson’s words and Bernstein’s photos) the Lakers’ march to their second consecutive NBA championship. Mostly, it’s a photo essay with plenty of revealing behind-the-scenes looks at the Lakers players, coaches and staff during the 2009-10 season. Bernstein’s black-and-white shots add a touch of drama to the story, an elegance and intimacy to the season. Love the shot of Jackson helping fix Thanksgiving dinner. There’s also one of Ron Artest playing touch football on the beach with a few new friends. The book is due to be released in stores early next month. You also can order online now at www.journeytothering.com.
Not to sound like a shill, but check it out. It’s definitely worth a look.
Lakers coach Phil Jackson said he might keep Kobe Bryant from playing his customary high number of minutes when the regular season starts Tuesday. Bryant has been slow to recovery from offseason surgery on his right knee, and Jackson doesn’t want him playing his usual number of minutes until he regains his strength and explosiveness. Bryant averaged almost 39 minutes last season. His shot has been off target during exhibition play this month. He is averaging 11 points on 27.3 percent shooting. It seems like a sound move considering the stakes are high this season for the Lakers, who are trying for a three-peat.
Well, the less said about the Lakers’ second consecutive loss to the Utah Jazz the better. The Lakers shot 33.3 percent tonight at the Honda Center and topped 20 points in a quarter only once, in the fourth when the made a belated charge at the Jazz. Matt Barnes and Shannon Brown scored 13 points apiece, Pau Gasol had 11 and Steve Blake scored 10. C.J. Miles scored 14 for the Jazz (7-0). Here’s some observations from Gasol:
“Defensively, we’ve got to step it up a notch, be more aggressive, just try to play these next two games like they were regular season games, with the intensity that’s required to win. … Obviously, we understand every night we’re going to be challenged every night, and we have to respond to it every night. Otherwise, if we’re not 100 percent ready we’re going to get outhustled sometimes … The real games start on the 26th and that’s what matters.”
Luke Walton probably won’t make his exhibition debut in Tuesday’s game against the Utah Jazz at the Honda Center in Anaheim. But he might do so in Thursday’s exhibition against the Golden State Warriors in San Diego. If not then, then it might be in the next night’s rematch between the Lakers and the Warriors in Ontario. Walton has been sidelined since the first week of training camp by a strained right hamstring, which could be related to the back injury that limited him to 29 games last season. He said his back feels fine finally.
Magic Johnson sold his minority share in the Lakers to a local doctor and longtime season ticket holder, the team announced today. The amount of the sale was undisclosed. Johnson guided the Lakers to five NBA championships in the 1980s, served as a coach briefly in the 1990s and has been a part owner of the team for more than 10 years. He sold his stake in the team to Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong, chairman of the Chan Soon-Shiong Family Foundation and a Lakers season ticket holder for 25 years.
“After heavy deliberations and a weighing heart, I have decided to sell my share of the Lakers to Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong,” Johnson said in a statement released by the team. “Dr. Soon-Shiong is a super Lakers fan, an outstanding businessman, a dedicated philanthropist and one of the most active community leaders in Los Angeles.
“I am truly humbled to have been a Lakers player for 13 years and an owner for over 10 years. I thank Dr. (Jerry) Buss from the deepest part of my heart and soul for allowing me such an incredible opportunity. I will continue to work alongside Dr. Buss, Jeanie Buss and Mitch Kupchak in their efforts to continually build and sustain the best NBA franchise in the league.
“This was a bittersweet business decision made on behalf of my family and myself, and I want to assure all the wonderful and loyal Lakers fans that my decision will in no way affect my dedication and support for the Los Angeles Lakers.
“I am and will always be a Laker for life.”
However, Johnson said during the offseason he would have an interest in joining the group that buys the Detroit Pistons or serving in a front-office capacity. Selling his share in the Lakers clears the way for him to join the Pistons, his hometown team while growing up in East Lansing, Mich., and while attending Michigan State.
“If somebody said, ‘Hey, can you come and think about helping (Pistons GM) Joe Dumars?’ Then I would think about it,” Johnson said in August.
Pau Gasol scored 28 points and grabbed nine rebounds in 36 minutes, 31 seconds in the Lakers’ loss tonight to the Utah Jazz. Kobe Bryant scored 19 points on 7-for-8 shooting in the third quarter after going scoreless on 0-for-4 shooting in the first half. He did not play in the fourth quarter despite the pleas of some of the fans at Staples Center. Ron Artest had 17 points and Lamar Odom had eight points plus 15 rebounds. So, it wasn’t all bad for the Lakers, who fell to 2-3 in exhibition play. They must cut down on their turnovers. They had 20 tonight, one night after committing 22 in a victory over the Denver Nuggets.
No surprise, but Lakers coach Phil Jackson said tonight he would keep Derek Fisher’s minutes to 30 or fewer per game this season. He said he hasn’t decided how best to divide the minutes between Fisher and Steve Blake. He indicated he might even try Shannon Brown at point guard in order to give Brown a few more minutes. Jackson also said only Blake and Lamar Odom among the Lakers’ reserves would average more than 20 minutes.
Kobe Bryant scored 18 points on 5-for-13 shooting and also had eight rebounds to lead the Lakers past the Denver Nuggets in an exhibition game tonight at Staples Center. Lamar Odom and rookie Devin Ebanks each added 14 points. Odom also had six rebounds and seven assists as the Lakers improved to 2-2. Ebanks had seven rebounds. Former UCLA standout Arron Afflalo scored 20 points for the Nuggets. Carmelo Anthony didn’t play.
Bryant on the play of Ebanks during training camp and in four exhibition games: “Devin’s going a great job. He’s making all the right plays. He’s getting all the hustle points. He’s making timely jumpers. Defensively, he’s active. He’s very impressive.”
Lamar Odom said he hopes to be picked to join Team USA for the 2012 London Olympics after helping to lead the Americans to the World Championships last month in Turkey. He also said he hopes to win as many international championships and NBA titles as possible. He’s not bashful about being greedy when the championships are decided. Here’s more from the Lakers’ versatile forward:
“I want more of everything. I want it all. I want a gold in the Olympics, as many rings as I can get, because you don’t know how long this is going to last. Wanna keep racking ‘em up. I’m not sure (about London), but hopefully.”
Asked to compare winning NBA titles for the Lakers and a world title for the U.S., he said: “It’s a different kind of pride. You’re standing on the podium and your flag is being raised, your head can go off. This is a grind and winning the NBA championship is a little different, but at the end of the day, winning is winning. If you’re a winner and you’ve won before you can understand how it feels and you can appreciate it.”
Asked if greed was good, he said: “Yeah, why not. We’re sportsman. We can get as much as we can get. If we can get it, because when it’s over, it’s over.”