Extra! Extra! (11.28)
Kobe went off for 46, but again the Lakers suffered from a lack of balance, falling to the New Jersey Nets in OT Sunday 102-96. Bryant dominated the offense, taking 36 of Los Angeles' 95 shots, making only 14. Still, his 39% shooting bested the Lakers team total, an ugly, rim clanking, child scaring 34%.
Lamar Odom chipped in 10 boards and 5 assists, which was good because he didn't do much else. Coming off his best stretch of the season against Seattle, Odom's 1-11 showing from the field, including 0-4 from beyond the arc, was good for only 8 points (thank god for free throws). The Lakers got off to a horrible start, digging themselves a 16 point deficit after 1 quarter that they spent the rest of the game trying to overcome. Bryant brought the team back in the 3rd and 4th to force OT... and the rest is (unpleasant) history.
Luke Walton went straight from street clothes to the Lakers rotation, clocking 35 minutes in a successful return to game action after his torn hammy sidelined him for the first 11 games. But like many Lakers, he had little left in the tank when OT came around. Phil Jackson, for one, saw it coming.
Despite, um... let's call it "modest" early season production, Jackson believes that Aaron McKie is improving and will become a valuable member of the rotation. As for Kwame Brown and Devean George, neither will travel with the team to San Antonio or Utah, Brown because of a bad right hamstring, George for a sore left foot.
The Lakers are just one of the NBA's storied franchises struggling to get back to the top- a tough deal for fans in those cities... and a real tough deal for the league.
After roaming the sidelines for the Sparks and as an interim coach for the Nuggets, Michael Cooper is now coaching the Albuquerque Thunderbirds of the NBDL. While he's not complaining, like most NBDLers, he hopes to make it back to the big leagues soon.
Sam Smith of Chicago Tribune wonders whether or not the Lakers cap-clearing plan will work, reports that Carlos Boozer has bought a pad in LA...
"You wonder if Phil Jackson and the Lakers can continue to be patient. There was some leakage last week with the first non-sellout of the season and Lamar Odom saying he needed to shoot and score more. Said Jackson, "What we love about Lamar is he'll give the damn ball up." The Lakers' plan has been to restrain themselves for two years and then have salary-cap room. Los Angeles doesn't seem as enticing anymore and the potential free agents the Lakers targeted - Amare Stoudemire and Yao Ming - already have signed extensions.
One hot rumor more than a year ago was that Utah power forward Carlos Boozer was going to the Lakers. Boozer was criticized last season by team owner Larry Miller, who had signed him to a $68 million deal. He hasn't played this season because of a hamstring injury. Last week, there was a note in the Los Angeles Times that Boozer had purchased a 5,600 square-foot home with 10 bedrooms and 13 bathrooms, a guest house, elevator, racquetball court and tennis court in L.A. for $8.6 million. Could something be up?"
(photo by DANNY MOLOSHOK/AP)