Lakers bracing for eight consecutive road games
With the Lakers about to head east for eight consecutive road games spanning through 13 days, Lakers Coach Phil Jackson found the trip to be a good opportunity for assigned reading -- a custom he's carried dating back to his days with the Chicago Bulls
"I planned on it," he said after Tuesday's practice.
"What got in the way?" a reporter asked.
"You guys," Jackson said with a whimsical smile. "I was going to go get the books now."
No word on whether Jackson has bought the books yet or just used it as a good exit strategy from his interview session.
Lakers guard Kobe Bryant didn't exactly seem thrilled with the idea he'll spend part of his travels reading anything other than his playbook (not that he needs to).
"If he gives me something interesting, I'll read it," Bryant said. "But if he gives me some ... book, I'm not going to."
It's safe to say Bryant would consider Jackson's book documenting his frustrations with Bryant earlier in his career to fall in the latter, expletives-deleted category than the one deemed "interesting."
All joking aside, there's several things the Lakers will learn on this trip beginning tomorrow in Cleveland, even if the team says its only area of concern is winning the games.
Though the Lakers (32-9) are one game ahead of the Cavaliers (32-11) for the league's best record, they have played the first half of the season primarily at home. The Lakers are 9-6 on the road and 23-3 at home, one of those losses happening in embarrassing fashion on Christmas day against Cleveland.
The Lakers also continue to have injuries on their mind.
Center Andrew Bynum missed the entire fourth quarter Monday in the Lakers' 98-92 victory over the Magic because of what the team called intestinal flu symptoms. Jackson said he only stayed for the team's video session before leaving Tuesday's practice, though The Times' Mike Bresnahan reports Bynum is traveling with the team.
Then there's the other injuries that never seem to go away, including Bryant's avulsion fracture to his right finger and Lamar Odom's aggravated sprained right index and middle fingers. Hey, at least Pau Gasol is back from his strained left hamstring.
-- Mark Medina
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Photo: Lakers guard Kobe Bryant goes with his left hand for a layup against Magic forward Matt Barnes in the first quarter Monday night. Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times