MINNEAPOLIS — Matt Barnes played several full-court games of four-on-four today as the Lakers held a limited practice at the Target Center. Barnes said he wouldn’t be ready to play in Tuesday’s game against the Minnesota Timberwolves, but added that Friday’s game against the Charlotte Bobcats might be his first since right knee surgery Jan. 11.
The Lakers on Tuesday will try for their 14th consecutive win over the Timberwolves.
The Timberwolves’ Kevin Love has 46 consecutive games with a double-double.
Some of the national reporters who cover the league for ESPN and its various platforms seem to be amazed that the Lakers don’t want to add Mike Bibby to their roster because of salary-cap and luxury-tax concerns. Why is that so strange? Bibby was bought out of his contract by the Washington Wizards and probably will sign with Miami.
OKLAHOMA CITY — The Lakers held the Oklahoma City Thunder to 31 points on 12-for-40 shooting (30 percent) in the second half today and won their fourth consecutive game. Kobe Bryant scored 17 points and passed Elvin Hayes for seventh place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list. Bryant has 27,320 points in his career. Pau Gasol scored 18 points and grabbed 11 rebounds for the Lakers. Andrew Bynum scored 16 points, took 10 rebounds and had five blocked shots. Ron Artest scored 10 points and held Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant to 21 points on 8-for-20 shooting, well off his season average of 28.6 points on 46.6 percent shooting. Next: at Minnesota on Tuesday.
Bryant on watching Hayes on videotape: “Oh yeah, yeah, he had an incredible fallaway. He was one of the first guys to have that baseline fallaway jump shot. His baseline fallaway was incredible, so I learned quite a bit from him, from that shot.”
Artest on Durant: “I don’t mind somebody scoring 50 on me. It hasn’t happened yet. If another player busts me up on the court, kind of destroys me, great game. It doesn’t happen often. In my career, in 12 years, I don’t know what other player can say that.”
Matt Barnes said today he feels he’s ready to play again, but that it’s up to Lakers coach Phil Jackson as to when the small forward is fit enough to return to the active roster. Barnes, who is recovering from right knee surgery, is scheduled to practice Monday, participate in Tuesday’s shootaround and then practice again Wednesday and Thursday. He wasn’t immediately certain whether he could play Friday against Charlotte, however.
Said Barnes: “It’s just to be back with the team and to get out of the house a little bit. My progress is very good, but now it’s up to Phil. I feel good. I want to be in it for the long haul. When I’m back I want to make sure I stay back. Everybody wants to make sure it happens. I definitely going to have to catch my wind. There’s no additional swelling to my knee. Just got to be ready when I’m back. It’s not up to me, but hopefully soon. It feels great to be back around the guys and feel like I’m part of the team again. It’s been rough. It was my first injury.”
Matt Barnes was scheduled to travel with the Lakers for their two-game trip to play Oklahoma City and Minnesota, but he’s not expected to play in either game. Barnes, recovering from right knee surgery, plans to practice with his teammates Monday in Minneapolis and to participate in Tuesday’s morning shootaround. If all goes well, and Barnes doesn’t suffer any setbacks, it’s possible he could play Friday against Charlotte.
Kobe Bryant scored 18 points on 8-for-11 shooting in the third quarter after Pau Gasol scored 18 points on 7-for-8 shooting in the first half for the Lakers tonight. Bryant finished with 24 points and Gasol scored 22 as the Lakers won their third in a row. Randy Foye scored 24 points for the Clippers and Blake Griffin had 22. Next for the Lakers: a two-game trip to Oklahoma City and Minnesota. Next for the Clippers: Boston at Staples on Saturday.
The Lakers led the Clippers by a narrow margin tonight at Staples Center despite only six points from Kobe Bryant, who left the game late in the second quarter after smacking his funny bone in his right elbow. Pau Gasol scored 18 points on 7-for-8 shooting. Randy Foye had 17 for the Clippers. The Lakers shot 48.8 percent in the first half; the Clippers shot 34.1 percent. The Clippers outrebounded the Lakers by 26-16 in their first game since trading Baron Davis to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The Lakers didn’t make a deal before the trade deadline today, but plenty of other teams did. Some were some real head-scratchers, especially the Boston Celtics’ decision to trade center Kendrick Perkins and team mascot Nate Robinson to the Oklahoma City Thunder for Nenad Krstic and Jeff Green. The Celtics’ strength was their size, comparable to the Lakers’ height and weight as evidenced by a split of the two regular-season games. Now what have they got? The Thunder got bigger with Perkins, perhaps big enough to knock off the San Antonio Spurs if they should meet in a No. 1 versus No. 4 matchup in the second round. OKC also could give the Lakers big trouble if they meet in the next round.
PORTLAND, Ore. — The Lakers rallied from an 87-79 deficit in the final four minutes tonight to force overtime and then edged away from the Portland Trail Blazers in OT. It was their 40th victory of the season, but also perhaps a turning point in their season. Sometimes these things turn on a small victory. The Lakers got a big one tonight at the Rose Garden.
“We don’t really get too hyped over teams,” Lamar Odom said. “But our record hasn’t been good up here over the last couple of years, so it was fun to win. It’s experience. We just gave ourselves a chance to win by getting stops. We’ve been in games like this before.”
Kobe Bryant scored 37 points, grabbed nine rebounds and added six assists. Ron Artest had a season-high 24 points on 8-for-13 shooting. Pau Gasol scored 18 points and grabbed 14 rebounds. Odom had 13 points in a reserve role.
LaMarcus Aldridge scored 29 points for Portland, none after the start the fourth quarter. He missed three key layups in the closing minutes, including one at the regulation buzzer, which could have won the game for the Trail Blazers.
PORTLAND, Ore. — The Lakers bolted to a 10-2 lead and everything seemed right in their world tonight. Then it all seemed to go haywire as it often does for them at the Rose Garden. The Lakers ended a hideous nine-game losing streak in Portland last season, but didn’t seem as if they had any designs on a victory tonight after their fast start. LaMarcus Aldridge torched them for 18 points on 8-for-10 shooting. Ron Artest had 12 points to lead the Lakers. Kobe Bryant had nine on 4-for-15 shooting. Portland shot 12 free throws; the Lakers only three.
The East rallied from a 17-point deficit to make it interesting in the closing minutes, but the West held on to win. Barely. After the East’s Ray Allen sank a 3-pointer from the corner to make it 146-143, the West’s Kevin Durant made two free throws to seal the deal with 5.2 seconds remaining. Kobe Bryant scored 37 points and grabbed 14 rebounds and earned MVP honors for the West, his fourth MVP honor. LeBron James had 29 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists for the East. The West led, 117-110, going into the fourth quarter. Durant scored 34 points for the West. Amare Stoudemire added 29 for the East.
Said Bryant: “I wanted to come out and play hard. I feel like we have a sense of responsibility and we are voted in for what we do during the season, which is play hard. And we come here. That’s what the fans want to see. They want to see us go at it and see us compete and that’s what I try to do, and that’s what my teammates try to do.”
Said James: “Just tried to showcase my talent on both ends of the floor: defending, rebounding, scoring. Tried to help lead our team to victory. We came up short and you know for me, I’m just about winning, so just a little disappointed in our game. Disappointed that we didn’t win.”