PHILADELPHIA — Kobe Bryant suffered a sprained right pinky and scored only nine points on 3-for-11 shooting in the Lakers’ victory tonight over the Philadelphia 76ers. X-rays taken after the Lakers’ fourth consecutive victory were negative. He said he was hurt when “Pau (Gasol) threw a bad pass.” His status for Sunday’s game in Toronto is uncertain, although probably will play. He damaged ligaments in his pinky in February 2008, but continued to play. His latest injury is not in the joint, however. Lamar Odom led the Lakers with a season-best 28 points on 11-for-18 shooting. Gasol added 19 points and 13 rebounds and Matt Barnes had 15 points and 10 rebounds in a reserve role.
PHILADELPHIA — Joe Smith was on the active roster for tonight’s game against the Philadelphia 76ers, his first since the Lakers acquired him from the New Jersey. Coach Phil Jackson said he would only play Smith in case of emergency, however. Smith went through the team’s morning shootaround, but has only a rudimentary grasp of the triangle offense.
INDIANAPOLIS — No breakdowns, no letdowns. The Lakers played their best game from start to finish so far on their trip. They built a double-digit lead in the opening minutes and held it the rest of the way. Their biggest lead was by 26 points in the second half. They never trailed. Kobe Bryant scored 31 points on 11-for-18 shooting, and Pau Gasol added 28 points, eight rebounds and four assists. Lamar Odom had 13 points and 17 rebounds, tying his season high. Ron Artest scored 13 points, his second straight with 10 or more. Darren Collison, a former UCLA standout, had 17 for Indiana. Next: at Philly on Friday.
INDIANAPOLIS — The Lakers seemed bent on delivering a serious payback to the Indiana Pacers in the first half of tonight’s game. They led by as many as 24 points and shot 61 percent in the first half. Pau Gasol scored 21 points on 9-for-11 shooting and grabbed six rebounds. Lamar Odom added 12 points on 5-for-7 shooting plus seven rebounds. The Pacers defeated the Lakers last month at Staples Center.
INDIANAPOLIS — The Lakers-New Jersey Nets-Houston Rockets trade became official today. The Lakers sent guard Sasha Vujacic and a protected first-round draft pick in 2011 to the Nets for forward Joe Smith, a second-round pick in ’11 and a second-round pick in ’12. The Lakers also received the draft rights to Sergei Lishouk from the Rockets. The picks originally belonged to Golden State (2011) and Chicago (2012). The Nets also received a protected 2012 pick from the Rockets. Houston got guard Terrence Williams from New Jersey. The teams agreed in principle Tuesday, but couldn’t formally announce it until today, the first day last summer’s free-agent signees, including Smith, could be dealt. Smith is scheduled to undergo a physical Wednesday and join the team for its practice later in the day in Philadelphia. If all goes well, he could be activated for Friday’s game against the 76ers.
WASHINGTON — Andrew Bynum’s final line wasn’t spectacular, but he didn’t needed to be during the Lakers’ ho-hum victory over the Washington Wizards tonight. He scored seven points, grabbed four rebounds and blocked two shots in 17 minutes, 29 seconds in a reserve role. He played for the first time since undergoing right knee surgery July 28. Kobe Bryant scored 24 points, Lamar Odom added 18 points and 10 rebounds and Pau Gasol and Shannon Brown scored 16 points. Gasol also had nine rebounds.
WASHINGTON — The Lakers have agreed to trade backup guard Sasha Vujacic and a first-round draft pick in 2011 to the New Jersey Nets for forward Joe Smith as part of a three-team deal. Terrence Williams will go from the Nets to the Houston Rockets. The trade cannot be formally announced until Wednesday, the first day players who signed free-agent contracts last summer can be traded.
Smith, 35, has played only five games this season for the struggling Nets. Vujacic, 26, was averaging 1.8 points in 11 games going into tonight’s contest against the Washington Wizards. His role has been reduced this season, his last in a three-season, $15-million contract. By trading him, the Lakers will save some luxury tax money. Smith is making “only” $1.35 million this season. The Lakers’ payroll is $95.7 million, highest in the NBA.
The news took Vujacic by surprise. He didn’t learn to it until told by a team official after the Lakers’ victory over the Washington Wizards tonight. Here’s some of what he had to say after the game: “I don’t know what to say at the moment. Right now, it’s just a rumor. … They (the Nets) are a young team, they’re rebuilding their franchise and it sounds interesting.”
WASHINGTON — Andrew Bynum is on the Lakers’ active roster for tonight’s game against the Washington Wizards, but he’s not in the starting lineup. The Lakers’ starting five is the same as it’s been while Bynum was sidelined for 24 games after he had offseason right knee surgery. Derek Fisher and Kobe Bryant will start at the guard spots, Pau Gasol is the center, and Ron Artest and Lamar Odom are the forwards. Devin Ebanks and Theo Ratliff are inactive.
WASHINGTON — Andrew Bynum got through today’s practice without suffering any setbacks in his surgically-repaired right knee and will make his season debut Tuesday against the Washington Wizards. He sat out for the 24th time in 2010-11 on Sunday, when the Lakers defeated the New Jersey Nets. He said today he was determined not to play until he was as close to 100 percent as possible. He also admitted he hurt himself further by playing in the playoffs with torn cartilage last spring. Here’s more:
“I know my team needs me, but I need to be healthy for the majority of my career. I played last year. I took a risk last year coming back and playing throughout the playoffs. My injury made it worse and stuff like that. I think this time it should be a little bit more about me and coming back fully healthy so that way I can help us for a longer time.
“I really took my time. I haven’t had any pain or swelling. I still can’t do any quick spins. I might feel a little bit of something, but it’s nothing that’s going to create swelling or hold me back. I have no idea what the plan is (Tuesday). I just want to get out there. I just know it’s going to be in quick bursts, five minutes here, five minutes there.”
NEWARK, N.J. — The Lakers outscored the New Jersey Nets, 12-5, in the closing minutes and took a tougher-than-expected victory in the second game of their six-game trip. Kobe Bryant scored 32 points for he Lakers, setting up Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom for late baskets. Bryant also had four rebounds and a team-leading six assists. Odom added 22 points, Gasol scored 15 and Derek Fisher had 10. Brook Lopez had 25 for the Nets. Jordan Farmar, an ex-Lakers guard, scored eight points in a reserve role for New Jersey.
“Guys weren’t standing around and watching,” Bryant said of the Lakers’ late-game flurry. “They were cutting without the basketball. We did a much better job of that. … That’s something we’ve talked about in practice. You can’t stand and watch.”