Lakers meet their biggest (and oldest) fan

Tomorrow’s story today …

Allene Wynn, a 105-year-old Pacoima resident and a huge Lakers fan, met several of the players before the game outside the team’s locker room. She smiled and posed for pictures with Steve Blake, Andrew Bynum and Ramon Sessions, among others.

Wynn had a few words of advice for Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol, too.

“You guys haven’t been playing well enough to suit me,” Wynn told a laughing Bryant in a stern voice, telling him to take his sunglasses off “so I can see you better.” She told Gasol, “I didn’t come all the way down here to watch y’all lose today.”

Wynn said she has been watching the Lakers play since the days of Wilt Chamberlain and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, when the team called the Forum home. She said she had visited Staples Center only once before to watch a game.

In an interview with a Daily News reporter last month, Wynn said she wanted to meet Bryant for her 105th birthday. Her birthday was last Tuesday, when the Lakers played against the Golden State Warriors in Oakland.

So, the Lakers arranged for her to meet Bryant on Saturday instead.

The Lakers’ narrow victory over the New Orleans Hornets probably did little to settle her nervousness about the team’s play of late. Bryant said he hoped she enjoyed it all the same after he made the go-ahead 3-pointer in an 88-85 win.

“That’s unbelievable, being 105 years old,” Bryant said. “I don’t think this game did anything to relax her. She was like a female Tex Winter (the demanding former Lakers assistant coach to Phil Jackson and the innovator of the triangle offense).”

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There was more to Andrew Bynum’s benching than one bad shot

Tomorrow’s story tonight …

All-Star center Andrew Bynum’s ill-advised 3-pointer, which prompted coach Mike Brown to bench him for most of the second half of Tuesday’s win over the Golden State Warriors, was only “the tip of the iceberg,” according to a Lakers insider.

Bynum’s shot was the latest in a catalogue of items that have annoyed Brown, his staff, the players and team management over the last few weeks. Brown had seen enough and decided to sit the 7-footer for all but 5 minutes, 17 seconds of the second half.

The 24-year-old Bynum has played loud music in the Lakers’ locker room, which has been frowned upon over the years. He also has been disrespectful to members of the coaching staff and to his teammates for about the last three weeks.

Brown said Thursday he stood by his decision to remove Bynum from the game. Brown also said the larger situation will be handled internally, with Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak speaking to Bynum about his actions on and off the court.

“At that moment, I didn’t feel that was the right shot in the game,” Brown said.

Kupchak wouldn’t say if he had spoken to Bynum yet “because the next question is: ‘What did you say?’ Much has been said and much has been dissected. Obviously, some of it you can attribute to a person growing up. It just has to be addressed.

“I think like most young, intelligent people, he will be better for it.”

After his benching, Bynum sat and appeared irritated. He did not join his teammates in their huddles during timeouts. At one point, he shrugged toward a TV cameraman as if to ask, “Why am I on the bench instead of playing in the game?”

Later, Bynum said he didn’t consider one missed shot worthy of a benching. He also said he might start to include 3-pointers in his repertoire of shots, although it wasn’t immediately clear whether he was joking. Bynum didn’t talk before Thursday’s game.

Brown said he had only been told of Bynum’s actions on the bench and his postgame comments, after the Lakers held off the Warriors for a 104-101 victory. He said it isn’t mandatory players not in the game join the team huddle for timeout instructions.

“People can agree, people can disagree,” Brown said. “I’m just doing what I think is right for the team and not for the individual. That’s how I try to coach. Is it a big deal? No, I took him out. I made a sub and put him back in.”

Bynum angered the Lakers when he said he was “loafing around out there,” after a loss March 7 to lowly Washington. He went into Thursday averaging 18.2 points and 12.2 rebounds, but hadn’t had more than nine rebounds in any of his last five games.

“That’s a comment I’m sure he would take back, looking back on it,” Kupchak said when asked specifically about Bynum’s “loafing around” statement. “It’s probably not the appropriate thing to say. … Maybe he was being overly truthful.”

Bynum led the Lakers with 25 points on 10-for-15 shooting and 13 rebounds in 40 minutes, 47 seconds during their 102-93 loss Thursday to the Oklahoma City Thunder.

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Andrew Bynum benched during Lakers’ victory over Warriors

A sneak-peek at tomorrow’s story tonight …

After they led the Golden State Warriors for all but a few moments in the fourth quarter, after their best player wrestled the game away from their opponents, the Lakers should have been feeling good about themselves again.

Instead, they were talking about 7-foot center Andrew Bynum taking an unnecessary 3-pointer with the game still in doubt in the third quarter and spending most of the second bench on the bench Tuesday night at Oracle Arena.

“That’s something I felt could have taken us out of rhythm and that’s why I took him out of the game,” coach Mike Brown said after the Lakers took a 104-101 victory from the injury-depleted Warriors.

Bynum, who has taken eight 3-pointers during his seven-season career, played only 2 minutes, 27 seconds in the third quarter and only 5:17 in the second half. He scored 11 points on 4-for-13 shooting and had five rebounds in 23:14.

He was averaging 18.3 points in 36 minutes going into the game.

“I felt good about it,” Bynum said of launching a 3-pointer with the Lakers head of the Warriors by only 56-50 with 10:05 left in the third quarter. “I’m going to take more of them. Hopefully, I’ll make them.”

Bynum sat alone on the Lakers’ bench during timeouts after Brown substituted for him, explaining, “He took me out of the game and I sat where he put me.” Bynum said he hadn’t spoken to Brown about the ill advised 3-pointer or his benching.

“No, not yet,” he said. “I’m sure he wants to.”

Kobe Bryant defended Bynum.

“I think he was testing the limits of his game,” Bryant said.

Bryant also said he supports Bynum’s efforts to expand his game.

“I understand where he’s coming from,” Bryant said. “The first thing you want to do if you want to get the best out of somebody or get the best out of your players is you have understand what they’re feeling, you have to understand where they’re coming from and what they want to accomplish. That’s why it’s not that big of deal to me. You don’t see me sitting there tripping or sweating or anything like that. I’ve been there.”

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Suddenly, the Lakers seem to have issues

Tomorrow’s notebook tonight …

Therapy: noon. Flight: 3 p.m.

That’s what somebody scrawled on a whiteboard inside the Lakers’ locker room after their loss Sunday night to the Memphis Grizzlies, which led one sarcastic visitor to joke, “Do you think that’s mental or physical therapy?”

Hmmm.

The Lakers seemed to have settled a number of issues with the acquisition of point guard Ramon Sessions at the March 15 trade deadline. They were younger, faster, more athletic and better suited for the stretch run and the playoffs ahead.

Or so we thought.

Then a new set of worries cropped up in the course of one lackluster game. Or maybe it was two or three or four games. If you look back far enough, back to last week’s split of their trip to Houston and Dallas, maybe all was not well with them.

Kobe Bryant’s extended rest on the Lakers’ bench during crunch time Sunday raised eyebrows as much for his unwillingness to second-guess coach Mike Brown’s substitution pattern as for the mere fact that he sat while the game slipped away.

“If you guys are looking for a story, I’m not going to give you one,” Bryant said.

The Lakers visit Oakland tonight to play the Golden State Warriors, and it remains to be seen what, if any, fallout lingers from Bryant’s benching for roughly four critical minutes Sunday against the Grizzlies.

Meanwhile, Andrew Bynum, the Lakers’ newly minted All-Star center, suddenly can’t seem to find a rebound in the last few games. He scored 30 points Sunday against the Grizzlies, but took only four rebounds, or eight fewer than his average.

Bynum has had four, nine, seven and seven rebounds in his last four games.
“The last four games I haven’t had more than 10 boards and we went 2-2,” he said. “I think that kind of shows something.”

And then there is the curious case of power forward Pau Gasol’s missing shooting touch during Sunday’s loss to the Grizzlies and Friday’s narrower-than-expected victory over the Portland Trail Blazers.

Gasol made only 4 of 15 shots during Sunday’s game and was 5 of 14 during Friday’s contest for a combined 31 percent, well off his season average of 51.2 percent. He scored 16 points against Memphis and had 10 against Portland.

“I’m shooting the same way,” he said. “I’m open. They’re not poor shots.”

Of equal or greater concern is the Lakers’ surprising run of poor defensive games.
Overall, they are giving up an average of 93 points, but they’ve slipped in recent games. Memphis was the eighth opponent to top 100 points this month.

The Lakers had given up 100 points only seven times in the two previous months.

“We can’t ignore what’s going to make us a great team and what’s going to make us a great team is playing defensively and playing solid at that end of the floor,” Gasol said. “We just have to be more consistent at the defensive end of the floor.”

Uneven matchup

The Lakers have won 13 of their past 14 games against the Warriors and are 27-4 in their last 31 against them. The teams haven’t met since the Lakers’ victory Jan. 6 at Staples Center. They play three times in the final five weeks of the season.

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Kobe Bryant unable to provide relief for Lakers from bench

A sneak-peek at tomorrow’s story …

Kobe Bryant sat at the end of the Lakers’ bench as the Memphis Grizzlies began to cement a102-96 victory Sunday night at Staples Center. He slumped forward, with his head resting in his palm as the game got away from his teammates.

The minutes ticked down and a sellout crowd of 18,997 grew restless. Some of the fans began to chant, “Kobe, Kobe, Kobe,” with less than three minutes to play in what became a head-scratching loss.

Bryant left with the Lakers trailing 93-79 after Memphis backup power forward Zach Randolph’s putback with 5 minutes, 45 seconds left in the game. He didn’t return to the court until the Lakers were down 98-89 with 1:51 remaining.

“I just decided to make a sub,” Lakers coach Mike Brown said when asked why Bryant sat for so long at such a critical point in the game. “I wanted to make a sub at that time and so I did (replace Bryant with Metta World Peace).”

Brown said it had nothing to do with any defensive lapses from Bryant.

“At the time, I felt like I needed a sub,” Brown said.

Brown went on to explain that he doesn’t like Bryant to play every second of a half, preferring to find a minute or two of rest for his oldest starter. Brown also acknowledged leaving Bryant on the bench at that point backfired.

“I tried it and it didn’t work,” he said.

Bryant declined to second-guess Brown’s decision to rest him.

“It’s his decision to make,” Bryant said. “I mean, he makes the decisions. He’s the coach. If you guys are looking for a story, I’m not going to give you one. I can’t sit here and criticize the decisions. I’m a leader on this ballclub.

“That’s something I can’t afford to do. I’ve got to have his back. I can’t start doing something crazy now. That would make no sense.”

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It probably won’t be long before Ramon Sessions is a starter

Tomorrow’s story tonight …

It figures to be only a matter of time before Ramon Sessions moves into the Lakers’ starting lineup, returning Steve Blake to a backup role at point guard. That time wasn’t Wednesday night, however.

Blake started for the fourth consecutive game since the Lakers traded Derek Fisher to the Houston Rockets and acquired Sessions in a multi-player deal with the Cleveland Cavaliers at the trade deadline last Thursday.

Sessions’ impact has been difficult to miss, with his speed and ability to get into the paint among the chief reasons the Lakers traded for him. He isn’t comfortable with either the Lakers’ offensive or defensive schemes, however.

“I’m definitely not up to speed yet,” Sessions said before scoring 17 points in the Lakers 109-93 victory Wednesday over the Dallas Mavericks. “I’m not comfortable like I would like to be just because I don’t know exactly where everybody is supposed to be out on the floor. I’m starting to know more plays for myself as where I’m supposed to go.

“But being a point guard, I want to dictate where everybody else goes and tell them where to go. I’m going to get it sooner or later. It’s a little different than in Cleveland. I’m definitely trying to get all the concepts down as soon as possible.”

As for moving Sessions into the starting lineup sooner rather than later, Lakers coach Mike Brown said it’s not a pressing concern at the moment. Brown said he is content to allow Sessions to learn on the job.

“I haven’t really thought about that yet,” Brown added. “(It’s) a matter of him continuing to learn and grow and understand what we’re trying to do on both ends of the floor. It’s tough. It’s going to take time for him to become acclimated.”

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Mike Brown upset with Lakers’ poor defensive play

Here’s a sneak-peek at tomorrow’s story tonight …

In the end, coach Mike Brown insisted he wasn’t as upset with center Andrew Bynum’s third-quarter ejection as he was with the Lakers’ porous defense and lack of hustle during a 107-104 loss Tuesday night to the Houston Rockets.

Brown also said he wasn’t as concerned about Bynum’s lack of discipline with the game up for grabs as he was with the Lakers’ inability to keep the shorthanded Rockets from picking them apart when it mattered most.

“Our defense is the worst it’s been all year,” Brown said after the Lakers lost their second in a row after a five-game winning streak. “The last seven or eight games, we just haven’t been playing well defensively. …

“We score 104 points in a regulation game. We shoot 51 percent from the field. Are you kidding me? We can’t play good enough defense and box out and come up with enough rebounds to stop them (the Rockets) from winning the game?”

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Mike Brown: Ramon Sessions will be a backup for the foreseeable future

Tomorrow’s story tonight …

Steve Blake started his second straight game as the Lakers’ point guard, with Ramon Sessions serving as his backup Sunday against the Utah Jazz at Staples Center. It’s likely to stay that way for the rest of the season, coach Mike Brown said.

At least that’s Brown’s plan, anyway.

“Right now, Steve Blake is my starting point guard, and he’s my starting point guard for the foreseeable future until there’s a time I think I need to make a change and right now I don’t see a time right now, but who knows?” Brown said.

Is that because Brown likes Blake as his starter or Sessions as a backup?

“Both,” Brown said.

“Basically, Steve Blake has taken Derek Fisher’s spot and Ramon Sessions has taken Steve Blake’s spot,” Brown added.

Presumably the rotation will change once Sessions becomes more comfortable in the Lakers’ offensive and defensive schemes and the team plays against the sort of young, fast and athletic point guards that hurt them in the past.

It’s no secret the reason the Lakers acquired Sessions from the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday and traded Fisher to the Houston Rockets was to match up better with point guards like Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Wouldn’t sitting Sessions behind Blake defeat the purpose of the trades?

Brown said he envisioned splitting the minutes between the two players, or he might even decide to use one of them as a backup to shooting guard Kobe Bryant. So, it’s possible Blake and Sessions could be on the court together.

One thing is for certain, however. Brown has no concerns about getting Sessions up to speed despite the Lakers’ lack of practice time during the lockout-compressed season. He had Sessions working overtime during Saturday’s workout, for instance.

“He’s an intelligent player,” Brown said. “I think he’ll pick things up sooner rather than later because of his intelligence. … Right now, I’m trying to make sure (Sessions and Blake) both get time on the floor because they both can help us.”

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Lakers’ first impressions of Ramon Sessions

Ramon Sessions scored seven points with four rebounds, five assists and three turnovers in his Lakers debut Friday night, a 97-92 wire-to-wire victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves. He played 19 minutes, 26 seconds as Steve Blake’s backup at point guard. Sessions said he looked forward to practicing with his new team Saturday and learning the plays. Assistant coach Quin Snyder sat next to him on the bench and talked him through some of the Lakers’ sets early in Friday’s game.

“We don’t have any days to practice, so that was his first practice and his first game combined,” Lakers coach Mike Brown said. “He can play, obviously. He’s got a feel. He’s been in the league long enough. The team I’m coaching is very intelligent, so they helped him out on the floor, how to space and play the game of basketball.

“You can see his quickness. He’s got a second, third and probably even a fourth gear.”

Added Kobe Bryant: “He’s extremely fast and crafty. The conversations I had with him out on the floor about execution and things like that, he seems to have a really high basketball IQ. He can score. He can obviously get into the paint, as you saw tonight. He’s going to be a feature for our team that opponents are going to have to prepare for. … They’re going to have to do something to try and slow him down.”

Bryant also had this to say about playing without Derek Fisher, who was traded Thursday to the Houston Rockets in order to make room at point guard for Sessions, who was acquired the same day from the Cleveland Cavaliers:

“It was very difficult. I’m not used to it. I’ve been with him pretty much my entire career. … So it’s very different. It’s pretty weird. … I don’t want to get that sentimental about it.”

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Ramon Sessions: ‘I’m not here to replace Fisher’

Ramon Sessions and Jordan Hill meet with reporters before meeting many of their new Lakers teammates before Friday night’s game against the Minnesota Timberwolves. They each talked about the franchise’s great history and what a thrill it is to join the team after trades Thursday. Sessions outlined his plans as the Lakers’ new point guard, saying, “(Derek) Fisher was a great guy for this organization. I’m not here to replace Fisher. I’m just here to do what I need to do and try to win games and compete at a high level.”

Asked about his game, Sessions said: “I feel like I can run an offense. I don’t need 30 shots a night. If it’s a night they need me to score, I’ll score. If it’s a night they need me to get guys the ball, that’s what I’ll do. Just come in and be the point guard, just be the floor general out there, be the coach out there on the floor.”

UPDATE: The Lakers trade with the Cleveland Cavaliers has been completed, so Sessions is eligible to play tonight against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Their deal with the Houston Rockets has not been completed because Fisher hasn’t reported, so Hill can’t play against the Timberwolves.

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