Caught in the Web: Lakers afternoon links & pre-game video
The Lakers embark on a two-game road trip starting tonight at San Antonio with their pieces in flux.
Although a recent Sports Illustrated players poll ranked Kobe Bryant second behind Suns guard Steve Nash as the player a team would most want at the free-throw line at the end of the game, Bryant has gone 28 of 88 from the floor in the past three games because of an aggravated right index finger. He told reporters after Sunday's win against the Milwaukee Bucks that the recent slump has coincided with his decision to remove the hard metallic splint that protected his finger because it decreased his flexibility and touch. But with the splint giving him extra strength, Bryant hopes that will provide the extra push to prevent shots from falling short.
Lakers forward Pau Gasol traveled with the team for its trip to San Antonio and Dallas, but he will not play in tonight's game. Forward Luke Walton practiced Monday, but he also won't play tonight.
And although forward Ron Artest had asked out of the Lakers-Bucks game on Sunday after suffering a fall, he didn't need any follow-up tests.
With the Lakers' 8-5 road record, The Times' Broderick Turner thinks this two-game road swing against San Antonio and Dallas will be a good test before the Lakers play eight consecutive road games beginning next week.
More Lakers links after the jump
--The Spurs view tonight's matchup as a good "litmus test" in measuring their worth to the defending NBA champions. Despite a 9-9 start, the Spurs rebounded by winning 13 of 17 games with a lineup that boasts the Big Three -- Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili -- plus Ian Mahinimi and off-season acquisition Richard Jefferson.
--This should certainly rile Lakers fans up. Sports Illustrated's Chris Mannix & Hoopsworld's Eric Pincus release their NBA rankings, and the Lakers aren't No. 1. Hey, that's what happens when you lose two games in a row. ESPN's John Hollinger writes there are a number of Western Conference teams that could threaten the Lakers, and that includes tonight's opponent. The USA Today rankings strictly pay attention to the Lakers' league-leading 29-8 record.
--Andrew Bynum's inconsistency may forever remain in question and trade rumors involving him will surely be a widely discussed topic in the comment threads and game chats, but it appears he's at least disciplined with his reading. USA Today's Jeff Zilligitt reports Bynum has gone through Robert Greene's "The 48 Laws of Power," William Paul Young's "The Shack" and Mitch Albom's "The Five People You Meet in Heaven." On a related note, Silver Screen and Roll provides a pretty comprehensive breakdown on this whole Bynum-Chris Bosh trade story.
Tweet of the Day: "but I'm not going to beef with you. See you should be worried about your spot. Shannon Brown??? That's all imma say" -- YUNGBUCK3 (Milwaukee Bucks' Brandon Jennings to a fake Jordan Farmar Twitter account.
-- Mark Medina
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Photo: Kobe Bryant and the Lakers will have their hands full tonight when they take on Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and the San Antonio Spurs. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times.