The official diagnosis is: Pau has a “bruised eyeball” and Kobe is still great

Short practice today before the Lakers hosted their annual holiday party for some kids from the Boys and Girls Club. The talk of the day was still on Kobe Bryant’s ridiculous game-winning shot from Friday night and the status of Pau Gasol’s twice-poked eye.

Pau said it was uncomfortable but that he’d be fine to play in Sunday’s game against Phoenix. He said he was using a lot of drops and had taken some antibiotics to prevent infection but did not have blurry vision. Phil Jackson’s official diagnosis, “It’s probably just a bruised eyeball.”

As for Mr. Bryant, the respect for his game-winning-shot-making abilities never seems to dim amongst his teammates, though some of them admit to being a little spoiled.

“You expect it, which is unfair but that’s how he likes it,” Lamar Odom said. “You’ve seen him hit so many, and he’s so good, that he spoils you.”

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Bynum sprains right ankle

Andrew Bynum said he sprained his right ankle when he picked up his fourth foul against Brad Miller in the third quarter. Bynum didn’t believe it was serious, but said he’d know more in the morning when he goes for treatment.

He was walking on his own after the game.

“Hopefully things aren’t too bad,” Bynum said. “I’m going to get some therapy in the morning.”

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Lakers 108, Bulls 93

So much for the theory that Pau Gasol would be rusty after missing the first 11 games of the season with a hamstring injury.

The Spaniard came back Thursday night and looked like he hadn’t missed a beat, scoring 24 points and grabbing 13 rebounds in 35 minutes of work.

Before the game, Lakers coach Phil Jackson said he thought Gasol would play about 25 minutes, but it could be more or less depending on how he handled the workload. While Gasol looked a bit winded at times, he played very well.

Other news of the night:

–Kobe Bryant moving to second on the all-time Lakers scoring list, passing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in the second half.

–Andrew Bynum playing only 24 minutes with Gasol’s return. He finished with 11 points and eight rebounds.

–Lakers move to 9-3 on the season.

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From the locker room

KOBE:

“We played really well. We executed our strategy. We played with a purpose and we came out with a big win.”

DREW:

“I was able to rest over these last five or six days. That really helped me out. I got my legs back, I’m fresh. As far as the elbow goes, I’m going to continue getting treatment. It hurts a little bit, but it’s going to be that way for a little while.”

PHIL:

“It’s a good win. We have to take it into perspective. They played a back-to-back game and came off the home floor on a road game.”

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Lakers 121, Suns 102

Statement game? Nah, it’s November. But the Lakers did reassert their position as the top dog in the Western Conference with Thursday’s blowout win over the Suns.

Andrew Bynum and his sore elbow left the Phoenix Suns feeling sore as he dominated the paint and the game for 26 points, 15 points and three blocks.

Kobe Bryant added 29 points and Josh Powell had 14 on 6-of-10 shooting. Shannon Brown was the show-stopper though, as the threw home one of the best dunks of the season in the fourth quarter.

About the only disappointment? No tacos for the fans, who heartily booed Phoenix’ Louis Amundson’s jumper that helped the Suns crack a 100 points with under a minute to go in the game.

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Clarification?

It’s always interesting to see what happens to a story once it gets published and then linked to on the web. We try and note the sarcasm, context, and tone of a source, such as the always sardonic, sometimes ironic, Phil Jackson. We even transcribe the entire exchange — as our Elliott Teaford did this afternoon in his blog post on Phil’s comments about Pau Gasol’s hamstring injury — so readers can judge for themselves.

And yet, somehow as the story gets repeated and repackaged by other media, all that context and any disclaimer we’d put about just how serious Jackson was being, goes out the window.

Apparently it got so confusing, some people called Lakers spokesman John Black for a clarification, to which Black said Jackson was joking and that Gasol was “day-to-day,” which is basically a catch-all phrase to describe an injury that has no timetable for a return.

What’s frustrating is that nothing Jackson said was incorrect. He was merely trying to convey the sense of frustration and mystery surrounding Gasol’s injury. I believe that is what all the reporters who were at practice took from it, and later wrote in their stories. But sometimes, in an effort to draw out the one-line news nugget of a story, subtlety and context gets lost.

Here’s what I later wrote in the news story about the situation, “After giving daily updates and forecasts about when All-Star forward Pau Gasol and his stubborn right hamstring might finally be fit enough to play, Lakers coach Phil Jackson teasingly said Wednesday that Gasol might not play until Christmas.

“Just how much Jackson might’ve been teasing – or needling Gasol – with that comment is unclear. For his part, the Spaniard said he wanted to have at least two days of pain-free running on a treadmill and at least a couple of pain-free practices before returning to action, which roughly translates to at least another 1-2 weeks out of action.”

I think that’s rather clear. The Lakers don’t know how long Gasol is going to be out. Gasol doesn’t know how long he’s going to be out. It’s silly to try and predict anymore, because the injury is a bit mysterious.

Is there a chance Gasol will be out until Christmas? Sure. Is it likely? No.

Though he admitted that this time around he would be “extra patient,” Gasol seemed to be thinking in the 1-2 week timeframe. Any setbacks could push that longer.

Then again, if it takes this long to explain the situation, maybe Black was right to just call it “day-to-day” and be done with it.

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Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has leukemia

Lakers great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar revealed early Tuesday morning that he has cancer but that his long term prognosis is good.

Abdul-Jabbar, 62, made the public disclosure almost a year after he was first diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia, a cancer of the blood and bone marrow which studies have shown can be controlled and treated with medication.

According to the Leukemia & Lymphoma society, from 1999-2005 the five-year survival rate for CML is 53.3 percent.

CML patients have what is called the “Philadelphia Chromosome” (Ph chromosome).

Chromosomes are structures in the cells that contain genes. Every cell with a nucleus has chromosomes. Genes give instructions to the cells.

The Ph chromosome is made when a piece of chromosome 22 breaks off and attaches to the end of chromosome 9. A piece of chromosome 9 also breaks off and attaches to the end of chromosome 22. The break on chromosome 9 involves a gene called Abl. The break on chromosome 22 involves a gene called Bcr. The Bcr and Abl genes combine to make the CML-causing gene called the Bcr-Abl cancer gene.

Abdul-Jabbar is the NBA’s all-time leading scorer. He played 14 of his 20 seasons with the Lakers before retiring in 1989. He is currently a special assistant to the team, working primarily with young center Andrew Bynum and the Lakers front court players.

His role has been lessened this season as Bynum has developed his game, and the Memphis Grizzlies recently asked for and received permission to speak with him about serving in a similar capacity with their team.

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Lakers 99, Clippers 92 (FINAL)

It got close there for a minute, as the Clippers cut the Lakers lead to 76-75 at the end of the third quarter, but this one ended up being a rather easy win as the Lakers surged in the fourth quarter.

Andrew Bynum had a happy birthday –his 22nd — scoring 26 points and grabbing 13 rebounds.

Kobe Bryant led all scorers with 33 points. Eric Gordon led the Clippers with 21 points. Chris Kaman had 18 points and 16 rebounds.

Baron Davis had an awful night from the field (1 for 10) and scored just two points in 28 minutes. He did have eight assists though.

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Has Bynum outgrown Kareem?

Has Andrew Bynum outgrown Kareem Abdul-Jabbar?

For four years the relationship between the NBA’s all-time leading scorer and Bynum seemed to be a productive one.

Abdul-Jabbar took Bynum under his considerable wing, taught him post skills and footwork, while Bynum listened and grew into one of the brightest young centers in the NBA.

But that relationship now seems to be running its course, at least as far as Bynum is concerned.

Sources close to the team said that Abdul-Jabbar will be playing a lesser role with both the Lakers and Bynum this season.

With his round-the-clock tutoring of Bynum not needed as much, sources said Abdul-Jabbar would likely spend less time with the team and more time back in his hometown of New York City.

All of which seems to be a considerable letdown for the former Lakers captain, who has worked closely with Bynum since the Lakers drafted him out of high school in 2005.

Abdul-Jabbar expressed disappointment in Bynum and the situation, saying that “I think there are things that have to do with basketball that he could learn but he’s getting on in years.”

Bynum said he understood his mentor’s feelings, but that it’s not personal and just a natural evolution for him in his career.

“I understand where he’s coming from,” Bynum said. “It’s definitely tough (for him). As of right now, I have my direction and he’s still helping me. As long as he doesn’t stop helping me everything is going to be fine.”

Over the summer, the two had no contact.

Bynum said that was because he spent only about a week and a half in Los Angeles following the Lakers championship parade on June 17th.

After that, he took a 41-day vacation in Europe and Asia, then went back to Atlanta for a month and a half to work with his personal trainer, Sean Zarzana.

He travelled through Europe with friends, backpacking and riding on trains just like a typical 21-year old kid who just graduated from college.

“I went all over, we did a whole bunch of sightseeing,” Bynum said. “I loved it. My favorite city was Rome. Just the history there, and the art is unbelievable.”

While Abdul-Jabbar expressed disappointment that Bynum was away from basketball for so long, Bynum said it was needed break both personally and professionally.

He also skipped the USA Basketball senior national camp in late July. Though he did not seem upset, Lakers coach Phil Jackson acknowledged Thursday that the team had encouraged Bynum to participate in the camp so he could get more experience on the court.

Bynum said that doctors had advised him to rest his knees, which he has injured in two consecutive seasons.

“I had to take the time off for my knee,” Bynum said. “I feel different, the rest definitely helped me out because it allowed everything to calm down.”

When he came back to the States, he dropped his things off in Los Angeles and headed out to Atlanta to work with Zarzana.

“We did a lot of track and legs. Not very much upper body,” Bynum said. “Other summers I came back a bit bigger up top. My legs were strong, but they aren’t like they are right now. Right now I feel very good, I’m definitely in shape.”

In other summers, Bynum had returned to Los Angeles before training camp began at the end of September and worked with Abdul-Jabbar on his basketball skills.

This year, Abdul-Jabbar said the first time he saw Bynum was at media day on Tuesday morning, the same day training camp began.

“He’s got to figure it out,” Abdul-Jabbar said. “Maybe he feels that there are things to be gained by doing it his way. So he’s going to try it his way. I’m available for him, he knows that.”

Bynum said he still intends to work with Abdul-Jabbar in practice and watch film with him, but acknowledged their work won’t be as extensive as it was in the past.

Bynum is in the first year of a four-year, $57.4 million contract, which he signed last fall. He has increased his scoring in each of his first four seasons, averaging a career-high 14.3 points a game last season in 50 games.

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