DENVER — Here’s what Lakers coach Phil Jackson had to say about the New Jersey Nets’ decision to pull the plug on a possible multi-player trade that would have sent Carmelo Anthony to the Garden State from Denver: “I have no idea what’s going to happen there. I would imagine it could be a ploy. Let’s speed this up. Let’s get this going or else nothing is going to happen. It is what it is. It’s factual and he’s stating the obvious. We’ll see what happens.” Jackson referred to Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov, who called a press conference Wednesday to declare the negotiations were dead. Anthony will be in the Nuggets’ starting lineup when the Lakers visit the Pepsi Center on Friday.
DALLAS — The Lakers took a giant step backward with tonight’s come-from-ahead loss to the Dallas Mavericks. Most of all, their defense was not up to par during a second half meltdown. Dallas went on a 17-2 run near the end of the third quarter to take control. Coach Phil Jackson woofed at Lamar Odom about he importance of team defense and Odom barked back about what only he knows. He didn’t say much after the game, a rare quiet night for the usually chatty sixth man. Pau Gasol had 23 points, topping 13,000 for his career. But he had only six points on 3-for-4 shooting in the second half. The Mavericks shot a season-best 55 percent. Shawn Marion and Jason Terry each had 22 points.
DALLAS — Pau Gasol went into the game needing 14 points to reach 13,000 for his career. He got 17 in the first half tonight against the Dallas Mavericks, making 8 of 12 shots. It was easy pickings for Gasol and Andrew Bynum (eight points, five rebounds) after Dallas center Tyson Chandler left the game because of an illness that sidelined him the last two games.
DALLAS — Lakers coach Phil Jackson went on ESPN’s L.A. radio outlet today and he addressed some of his favorite topics, including the Miami Heat, Kobe Bryant and how he sends messages to his players through reporters. Highlights included:
Jackson on the Heat: “I personally don’t think they can get by Boston. I think Boston is too good a team. I think a team is still going to win. But there’s a chance that they will, and they can maybe round themselves into a team by that time and do that. Boston is older and they have to go through the rest of the schedule without having some kind of breakdown of players. (Ray) Allen and (Kendrick) Perkins, etc., they are just really a good team.”
Jackson on Bryant’s future as a superstar: “I’ve encouraged him to maybe take a look at some of Michael (Jordan’s) career. In ’97,’98, his last few years of Michael’s play when the Bulls were still able to win it, but you could see that there was some tailing off of his capabilities and ability. Maybe not much. And it’s not quite as comparable, but it’s pretty close. I think that (Kobe has) a couple years of play that are still left, and he’s got to monitor it a lot. And he’s got to do what he’s doing now… to still crank it up and get his team performing at a high level. Those things will continue because he’s got the knowledge and the desire to do those things that will bring him to a championship, or to competing at (the only) level where he can live. That’s the only place where he can live, is where he can be at the top.”
Jackson on using the media to get a point across to his players: “I do sometimes say the most honest thing. Reporters will ask me a question, and I’ll be very blunt and make a statement that I think is as true as I can make it, but there’s always a little encouragement to do better and improve at certain levels, and I don’t miss that opportunity to do that. I think the press is there for your services as a coach, and there’s a message there you can use to get across and I think it’s important for a coach or anybody in that position to use that position as an opportunity.”
DALLAS — Today was a travel day for the Lakers and the reporters who cover them. Nice flight to Dallas-Ft. Worth this morning, then got to the Hertz counter and they didn’t have enough cars for everyone who had a reservation. Wasn’t that a “Seinfeld” episode? Picked up the local newspaper and the beat writer called the Mavericks “heartless” and “gutless” after their loss Monday to the lowly Detroit Pistons. Mavs have lost six in a row. Ugly.
Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol each scored 21 points and the Lakers won for the eighth time in nine games after defeating the Oklahoma City Thunder tonight at Staples Center. Russell Westbrook scored 32 points and Kevin Durant had 24 for the Thunder. The Lakers held the Thunder scoreless after Serge Ibaka’s dunk made it 98-94 with 2 minutes, 9 seconds remaining in the game. Westbrook missed two free throws with 22.2 seconds left that would have cut the Lakers’ lead to 99-96. Bryant also missed two free throws late.
“It’s a good win for us,” Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. “We’ve been playing better. We know that we’ve got a ways to improve and things to do, but our intensity was right. We had the energy necessary to win against a very young, active team.”
The Lakers (surprise!) had their hands full with the Oklahoma City Thunder tonight at Staples Center. It looked like a repeat of the teams’ first-round playoff series last April, when the top-seeded Lakers needed six games to eliminate the eighth-seeded Thunder. Lamar Odom was one of four Lakers to score in double figures in the opening half, scoring 12. Kobe Bryant, Andrew Bynum and Derek Fisher each had 10. Russell Westbrook scored 18 for the Thunder, and Kevin Durant added 16. The Lakers scored 36 points in the paint; the Thunder had 32. Oklahoma City was 1 of 9 on 3-pointers.
Upon further review, the NBA decided today that Ron Artest did not deserve to be ejected from Sunday’s game after a late-contest snit erupted between Lamar Odom of the Lakers and Blake Griffin of the Clippers. Odom, Griffin and the Clippers’ Baron Davis also were ejected with only seconds to play in the Clippers’ victory. But the league decided to rescind the ejections of Artest and Griffin. The ejections of Odom and Davis still stand, however.
The numbers looked pretty good by game’s end for the Lakers, a choppy victory over the New Jersey Nets tonight at Staples Center. The Lakers reached the season’s midway point with a 30-11 record, having won seven in a row and nine of 10. Kobe Bryant scored 27 points, Pau Gasol scored 20 and grabbed nine rebounds and Ron Artest and Lamar Odom scored 14 apiece. Odom also had a team-leading 11 rebounds. Brook Lopez led the Nets with 35 points on 13 of 19 shooting. Sasha Vujacic added 17 and Jordan Farmar had 12.
Here’s what Bryant had to say about playing against Vujacic and Farmar: “It’s good to see them. They both look like they’re in good spirits. They both played well, played with a lot of energy. You know, all in all, it’s good to see them. These types of games are the hardest for me. Like, last year when we played Trevor (Ariza) for the first time because they’re little brothers to me.”
Jordan Farmar received his championship ring from Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher and also got a standing ovation from the Staples Center crowd tonight. Sasha Vujacic also got a warm homecoming reception. As for the game, the Lakers looked like they were playing in slow motion during the first half. Kobe Bryant scored 15 points and Ron Artest had 10. Brook Lopez had 14 points for the Nets. Farmar and Vujacic scored four apiece.