Mike D’Antoni jokes about job security during recent struggles

SACRAMENTO — Even with the possibility the Lakers could miss the playoffs for the first time since 2005, coach Mike D’Antoni has kept his sense of humor.

Consider his response when a Sacramento reporter asked about possibly coaching his last game if the Kings move to Seattle.

“You mean because I might not be coaching anymore?” D’Antoni chuckled.

D’Antoni signed a four-year, $12 million deal with the Lakers, which hold a team option for his final season. The Lakers’ front office has publicly supported him.

Has D’Antoni been told otherwise?

“I don’t know anything,” D’Antoni joked. “As a matter of fact, that could be the problem.”
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Kobe Bryant doubts he’ll pursue Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s all-time scoring mark

SACRAMENTO — Only one thing drives Kobe Bryant.

It explains why he’s willing to put his feet in ice buckets everyday to treat a bone spur in his left foot and a sprained left ankle. Or why Bryant willingly changed from the Lakers’ scorer to their defacto point guard. Or why on earth he demanded to play all but 23 seconds of the Lakers’ 103-98 victory Saturday over the Sacramento Kings.

Those championship rings. He already has five of them. But Bryant wants more. At least seven, assuming Bryant retires once his contract expires after the 2013-14 season. Who knows?

“It’s really just about wanting to play,” Bryant said. “I could play and change my role completely and play point guard and average 20 points and 12 assists. “It’s just a matter if I want to.”

On the same night he became the fourth-leading scorer in NBA history by surpassing Wilt Chamberlain’s 31,419 points, Bryant suggested he won’t take up that role. Only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (38,387), Karl Malone (36,928) and Michael Jordan (32,292) have scored more than Bryant (31,434) in NBA history.

Could Bryant surpass Abdul-Jabbar?

“I don’t see it happening,” Bryant said after the Lakers’ 103-98 win Saturday over the Sacramento Kings. “But if I change my mind and decide to play a little bit longer and be a [point guard], that’s what I’ll do.”

Bryant sounded surprised enough he lasted this long.

Bryant’s latest accomplishment spans a storied 17-year career that includes five NBA championships, two Finals MVPs, one regular season MVP and four All-Star MVPs.

“What a journey,” Bryant said of passing Chamberlain. “It’s been a very, very long journey. I’m certainly extremely appreciative of all the support from the Laker faithful and Laker nation. To come from a 17 year old kid to become a 34-year old man and have all the support they’ve given me throughout my career.”

Bryant’s words went beyond platitudes.

He and Chamberlain remain linked in numerous ways.

Chamberlain went to Overbrook High School, just down the road along Philadelphia’s Main Line from Bryant’s Lower Merion. Bryant surpassed Chamberlain’s Philadephia area high school scoring record (2,252 points) by finishing with 2,883 points. Bryant’s career-high 81 points on Jan. 22, 2006 remains the second highest single-scoring game, trailing Chamberlain’s 100 points he scored March 2, 1962.

The geographic proximity led to other connections.

Chamberlain went to Overbrook High School with Bryant’s grandmother and even asked her to senior prom. But she declined because she was dating Bryant’s future grandfather. Chamberlain also played in the NBA when Bryant’s dad, Joe “Jellybean” Bryant played in the NBA for several teams, including the Philadelphia 76ers.

“He knew me as Jelly Bean’s son,” Bryant recalled. “He picked me up and showed me all the love in the world.”

Bryant still remembers the day vividly.

“I remember the first time I met him when I was eight years old,” Bryant said. “The first thing that struck me was that he was Bombaata from Conan the Barbarian. That was the most impressive thing to me. He was a warm hearted gentleman. I have nothing but praise for him obviously. But to pass him up is a huge honor to say the least.”

Bryant will likely do the same thing against Michael Jordan midway through next season. Former Lakers coach Phil Jackson has said Bryant attaches extra significance toward surpassing Jordan considering the endless comparisons on their scoring mentalities, global impact and insatiable competitiveness.

“Michael and I had two different career paths,” Bryant said, who’s one championship shy of tying Jordan. “But the common denominator we have is our passion for the game and commitment to the game.”

Bryant surely showed that commitment against the Kings.

Despite nursing a bone spur in his left foot that stemmed from compressing his sprained right ankle, Bryant told D’Antoni he wanted to play the hole game. Bryant found his shot enough to surpass Chamberlain’s record off an elbow jumper with 7:51 left in the first quarter. But Steve Nash’s strained right hip and Bryant’s 5 of 18 mark spurred the Lakers guard to dish off 14 assists.

“Sometimes you have to will your will through it,” Bryant said. “Now is not the time to sit back. You have to take this challenge head on.”

But Bryant’s challenge doesn’t involve climbing up this scoring list. It involves somehow bringing this frazzled Lakers team back into playoff contention and then beyond. Bryant still wants that sixth championship ring.

“The biggest thing I take out of it is the longevity,” Bryant said. “To play able to play for so many years and still play at a high level. That’s what im most proud of.”

RELATED:

Kobe Bryant surpasses Wilt Chamberlain on NBA’s all-time scoring list

Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash to play against Sacramento

Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash to play against Sacramento

Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter. E-mail him at mark.medina@dailynews.com

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Kobe Bryant surpasses Wilt Chamberlain on NBA’s all-time scoring list

SACRAMENTO — At a time when very little has gone the Lakers way, there’s at least one element that’s proven consistently durable.

Kobe Bryant’s scoring.

He made another milestone in that department, becoming the fourth highest NBA scorer in league history by surpassing Wilt Chamberlain’s 31,419 points.

Bryant got off to a shaky start tonight against the Sacramento Kings, going scoreless in the first quarter by missing his first three field-goal attempts and one free throw. But Bryant eventually reached the milestone after hitting a mid-range jumper with 7:51 remaining in the second quarter. Bryant also scored off a free throw and a drive to the basket.

Bryant’s latest accomplishment spans a storied 17-year NBA career that includes five NBA championships, two Finals MVPs, one regular season MVP and four All-Star MVPs. Only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (38,387), Karl Malone (36,928) and Michael Jordan (32,292) have scored more baskets in NBA history. Earlier this season, the Lakers guard also became the youngest player to surpass 30,000 career points at 34 years and 105 days old.

How much higher can Bryant climb the list?

“As high as he wants it,” Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni said. “It’s going to be totally up to him. He has the opportunity to do that if that’s what he wants to do. It depends how far he wants to push himself and get into his career. It’s a matter of more years to get to those numbers. As compettivie as he is and as a hard worker as he is, he will get there if he plays enough years. It’s a matter of time.”

Bryant has suggested throughout this season that he may retired after his contract ends following the 2013-14 season. Should he stick to that timetable, it’s likely Bryant would surpass Jordan on the list at some point next season and finish as the NBA’s third leading scorer.

“I don’t know for sure if he’s going to do that at 35 to retire,” Lakers forward Pau Gasol said. “But that’s going to be totally up to him whether he’s had enough or if he still wants to keep giving it a go and try to fight for more championships. With the kind of career that he has, that’s basically what he’ll be playing for. I don’t think he’ll be playing just to get a scoring title.”

Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter. E-mail him at mark.medina@dailynews.com

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Steve Nash with right hamstring strain, will miss rest of Lakers-Kings game

SACRAMENTO — It took less than two minutes for Lakers guard Steve Nash to assess he couldn’t play through the pain of a right hip spasm and right hamstring strain.

With 10:11 left in the first quarter of the Lakers’ game tonight against the Sacramento Kings at Sleep Train Arena, Nash went to the locker room with trainer Gary Vitti. Moments later, the Lakers determined he would sit the rest of the game because of a right hamstring strain.

Nash finished with two points on one-field goal attempt and one assist.

Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat wrier Mark Medina on Twitter. E-mail him at mark.medina@dailynews.com

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Jordan Hill’s car involved in DUI crash; Hill not a driver or passenger

The driver of a 2007 Bentley owned by Lakers forward Jordan Hill was arrested Saturday morning after crashing into a Marina del Rey building while under the influence, according to the California Highway Patrol.

Hill was neither driving nor in the passenger of his car during the crash that happened at 1:55 a.m. Hill was questioned about the incident but not arrested, according to CHPO officials.

The driver was identified as Michael Lacey, 26, who was riding with an unidentified passenger.
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Mike D’Antoni staying patient with Jodie Meeks

SACRAMENTO — The casualty surrounding Metta World Peace’s likely season-ending left knee injury goes beyond the obvious defensive presence. The Lakers also lose one of their dependable scorers.

Jodie Meeks has started at shooting guard the past two games, averaging eight points but on only 6-of-19 shooting. In the Lakers’ loss Thursday to Milwaukee, Meeks missed consecutive layups on fastbreaks, prompting laughs on the Lakers’ bench.

“I’m doing a pretty good job, but I have to play a little better,” Meeks said. “Just shoot better and take good shots. A couple went in and out. Some were rushed.”
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Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash to play against Sacramento

SACRAMENTO — Even with the Lakers’ aging backcourt fighting injuries, both Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash will suit up when the Lakers play tonight against the Sacramento Kings at Sleep Train Arena.

Bryant will play despite nursing a bone spur in his left foot and a sprained left ankle, while Nash will suit up despite having a right hip spasm.

“I’m playing tonight,” Bryant wrote on his Facebook page. “Foot feels much better. I just pray it holds up during the game.”
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Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bird, Russell star in AT&T commercial

As Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Larry Bird and Bill Russell sat around a table, there appeared to be no debate on this question posed by actor Beck Bennett.

“In basketball, is it better to be bigger or smaller?”

“Bigger” they all said in unision as part of AT&T’s “It’s not complicated” commercials.

One can only wonder what Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni would’ve said.
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Lakers consider Kobe Bryant probable, Steve Nash questionable vs Kings

SACRAMENTO — Kobe Bryant is considered “probable” to play Saturday when the Lakers visit the Sacramento Kings, while Steve Nash is considered “questionable.”

Once the Lakers arrived here Friday afternoon, both Bryant and Nash spent part of the team’s day off receiving treatment for their respective injuries. Bryant has nursed both a bone spur in his left foot and a sprained left ankle, while Nash has a sore right hip.

Bryant played the whole game of the Lakers’ 113-103 loss Thursday to the Milwaukee Bucks, but he didn’t speak to reporters afterwards in favor of more treatment. He spent most of his time on the bench with his foot wrapped in ice. Meanwhile, Steve Nash sat out the rest of the game with 5:13 left in the third quarter. Although Nash returned from the locker room before the fourth quarter, Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni abstained from playing him for precautionary reasons.

With the likelihood Bryant plays against the Kings, it’s also likely he will make history. Bryant remains five point shy from surpassing former Lakers center Wilt Chamberlain (31,419) for fourth place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list.

Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter. E-mail him at mark.medina@dailynews.com

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Bucks mascot Bango pranks Dwight Howard, other Lakers

Poor free throw shooting and a lack of defensive help aren’t the only things that threw Dwight Howard out of his element in Milwaukee.

Long before the Lakers’ 113-103 loss Thursday to the Bucks became official, Howard innocently walked down the hallway of the BMO Harris Bradley Center likely contemplating about the game. THen an inflatable version of the Bucks’ mascot, Bango, surprisingly shook his head and moved toward Howard.

Startled, the Lakers center spun away from Bango. He then flashed his infectious smile.

“Oooohhhh, that was a good one,” Howard said.

Howard wasn’t the only victim.

The Bucks featured a video of Bango performing the same trick on others. Kobe Bryant barely flinched the same way three years ago when Matt Barnes pretended to inbound the ball toward his face. Pau Gasol politely and graciously stopped to get out of Bango’s way. Carlos Maples, the Lakers equipment manager, looked terrified when Bango suddenly came to life.

All entertaining stuff, unlike the actual game.

Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter. E-mail him at mark.medina@dailynews.com

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