Who Wants to Set a Personal Scoring Record?
Mercifully, Kobe Bryant decided to sit this one out, figuring that his injured ankle needed the rest more than the Lakers needed him for Friday night's game against Atlanta. (Yeah, the Hawks are better, but until further notice, they're still the Hawks.) In the end, the Lakers got their cake (time off for 24) and ate it, too (a 106-95 win) before a rather generally somnambulant crowd at Staples Center. In fairness, they don't get jazzed up for the Hawks in Atlanta, either. It wasn't exactly pretty, but the Lakers got the job done in fairly convincing fashion, more or less controlling the game throughout. Not surprisingly, it was a group effort, full of personal achievement. Luke Walton led the way with 25/4/6 (a career best in points), Mo Evans, starting in place of that Bryant guy, poured in 22 (a career best), including a very Kobe-esque and-one in the fourth, flipping the ball off his hip with nary a peek at the basket while getting hammered. (For my next trick...) Kwame Brown flirted with a trip-doub (13/7/7), and Jordan Famar continued to chip away at Smush Parker's playing time. 23 minutes (including the entire fourth quarter), with a career high 15 points (you guessed it, a career best), four dimes, and three steals.
More on the game to come.
If you're interested in hearing audio from L.O., don't hold your breath. His interview was cut relatively short by his constant eating of Starburst throughout, much to the chagrin of PR guru John Black, who apparently has a strict no candy during interview rule. By the time everyone was done laughing and L.O. was finished chewing... nobody really had any questions for him. Could this conflict with his potential Mike and Ike endorsement deal? We ask the big questions around here. Moving on...
While this was a big game career wise for Evans, Farmar, and Walton, it doesn't seem like it'll stick all that much in P.J.'s memory bank. It sounded like he was having trouble coming up with much to say in his traditional postgame "opening statement." Download phil_jackson_12.8 postgame ATL.mp3
What did make an impact was Farmar's play. Jackson didn't say anything about JF taking the starting gig over for Smush, but did say he's been very successful on teams where guards split time, and appreciated the energy that Farmar has brought to the court. "I've had a number of teams where guards have split minutes, and I've been very happy with it," Jackson said. "It gives us an opportunity to play with a little more momentum and a little more energy out there, particularly in that position which has to be real active." Download phil_jackson_12.8 on PG rotation.mp3
Kobe was a late scratch. He was hoping to play, but couldn't get the ankle pain free. First, PJ, then Kobe on the bum body part. Download phil_jackson_12.8 on Kobe ankle.mp3
Download kobe_12.8 on ankle, late scratch.mp3
24 had some good things to say about the supporting cast, who came up big in his absence. Particularly Mo Evans. Download kobe_bryant_12.8 on guys stepping up.mp3
Plenty more on the game coming tomorrow, including more on Walton's big night.