NEWARK, N.J. — Jordan Farmar smiled broadly when a group of Lakers beat writers entered the New Jersey Nets’ locker room looking for an update this morning on his new life and career. Farmar left the Lakers last summer to sign a three-season, $12-million contract with the Nets in the hope of landing a greater role. Farmar said it’s all working out just fine. He misses his old teammates and he can’t wait to get his hands on his second championship ring, which will happen when the Nets visit Staples Center next month. Here’s more from the former UCLA and Taft of Woodland Hills standout:
“Life is good. I have a new baby girl (Phoenix). She’s amazing. She keeps me rolling every day. I’m just working, coming in here every day trying to get better and help this organization grow. For me personally, I’ve been able to play basketball in a little different light and do some more things on the floor, have the basketball in my hands and run the team. It’s been a growing experience for me, a learning experience. That was definitely the plan. Those guys are family in there. We’ve been through wars together. I wish them nothing but the best except when we’re going head up against each other.”
NEW YORK — Ron Artest admitted to ESPN.com that he doesn’t get the Lakers’ triangle offense, which shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to anyone who has watched the burly small forward attempt to fake his way through the many options of the offense. Here’s what he said about trying to grasp the triangle: “See, I can’t really understand the triangle, There’s 1,000 plays in the triangle. It’s such a challenge. I get so frustrated about it. … So I just stay in my one spot in the corner. If I leave my spot, I get yelled at. (Lakers coach) Phil (Jackson’s) gonna say, ‘What are you doing over there!’ So I just don’t move.” Artest had two points on 1-for-6 shooting in Friday’s loss to the Chicago Bulls. He is averaging only 7.8 points this season. His career average is 15.5.
CHICAGO — The Lakers started their six-game trip with a whimper not a bang tonight, failing in too many facets of the game to list here. They didn’t shoot well, didn’t defend adequately and ended up watching the Chicago Bulls walk off with a victory. Derrick Rose scored 29 points, grabbed five rebounds and added nine assists for Chicago. The Lakers were doomed by their woeful 10-point second quarter. Kobe Bryant scored 23 points and moved into 11th place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list. Pau Gasol scored 10 of his 21 points in the first quarter on 5-for-7 shooting. He was 4 of 8 the rest of the way.
CHICAGO — The Lakers’ start their first extended trip of the season tonight against the Chicago Bulls. (Wednesday’s victory over the Clippers doesn’t count as part of the trip since it sounded like there were more Lakers fans than Clippers fans even though the Clippers were designated the home team). There are several questions facing the Lakers. Among them:
Will they take these six games seriously? As of today, only the Bulls have a winning record. The rest (New Jersey, Washington, Indiana, Philadelphia and Toronto) are at .500 or below. The Lakers don’t often get excited to play poor teams, and they’re facing some seriously weak ones on this trip, especially after tonight’s game against the Bulls.
Will 7-foot center Andrew Bynum make an impact when he makes his debut Tuesday against Washington. The Lakers went 16-6 through their first 22 games while Bynum rehabbed from offseason right knee surgery. They’ve got two more games to play before he makes his return to the active roster. Can he help them right away?
Will they get a spark from their visit Monday with President Obama at the Boys and Girls Club in Washington? Last season, the Lakers won nine of their next 11 games after visiting Obama at the White House. This time, the visit isn’t as formal.
Will they find more consistency on the road than they’ve displayed so far? In some cities a 16-6 start to the season would be grounds for a celebration. Not so with the Lakers, who are trying for their second three-peat in the 2000s. Expectations are high, but so far it doesn’t appear if the Lakers have come close to meeting them.
Andrew Bynum told our friends at the Los Angeles Times that he plans to play Tuesday against the Washington Wizards, the third game on the Lakers’ six-game trip. Bynum missed his 22nd game when the Lakers defeated the Clippers on Wednesday. The Lakers could use Bynum, who underwent surgery on his right knee July 28. Theo Ratliff is out after knee surgery last month and Derrick Caracter sprained his left ankle Wednesday.
Andrew Bynum practiced with his teammates today, the first time he’s gone through a full workout. He reported no pain or swelling his in his surgically-repaired right knee. The question is: When will he make his 2010-11 debut? He said he needs a few more practices before he’s ready to play. Today was the last time the Lakers will practice until Saturday in New York. They’ll go again Monday in Washington and maybe then he’ll be ready to play. It’s all guesswork at this point, as it has been since he had surgery July 28.
It remains to be seen if the Lakers are out of their post-Thanksgiving funk. They thumped the Sacramento Kings by 33 points on Friday to end their four-game losing streak, but they have some work to do before putting their slump in their rear view mirror.
Here’s what Lakers coach Phil Jackson said the other day: “It’s very important we play good games Tuesday and Wednesday. Whether we win or not, it’s important we play well. We have a six-game road trip (coming up) that’s really important for us. These are important times for us. Things are starting to matter.”
The Lakers (14-6) face the Washington Wizards on Tuesday, the Clippers on Wednesday and then hit the road for their first extended trip starting Friday at Chicago. They also play New Jersey, Washington, Indiana, Philadelphia and Toronto. Of their next eight opponents only Chicago had a winning record as of Sunday morning.
Andrew Bynum played in a 5-on-5 game during the Lakers’ short practice today, the first time he’s participated in a regular full-contact scrimmage with his teammates since undergoing offseason right knee surgery July 28. The true measure of how Bynum fared won’t be known until Sunday, when he and the Lakers will learn if he has any lingering soreness or swelling. The Lakers don’t have a practice scheduled for Sunday, but will return to the court for a workout Monday in advance of Tuesday’s game against Washington. The Lakers have no firm timetable for Bynum’s season debut.
“We’re just watching him, analyzing him in how it goes from day to day,” Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. “We really won’t know that until tomorrow (Sunday) and he comes back and says he had a little puffiness on the knee. Or whatever. Or he doesn’t and he’s fine and raring to go. Then you know he can absorb more training as we go along. And his conditioning is the issue right now and his timing more than anything else.”
As it turned out, the Sacramento Kings were just what the Lakers needed to end their four-game losing streak tonight. The Lakers led by as many as 35 points late in the game. They outscored the Kings, 68-30, in the paint. They held Sacramento to 31-for-77 shooting (40.3 percent). Kobe Bryant scored 22 points, and Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom each added 16 points. Bryant and Gasol left the game for good with 2:55 remaining … in the third quarter. Shannon Brown led the second unit with 14 points, and Steve Blake scored 11 and Derrick Caracter had a career-high 10.
Said Gasol of playing with a sore left hamstring: “It was a little sore, a little tight, but I managed it well during the game. I didn’t really push it too hard during the game. I was able to play through it.”