Caught in the Web: Lakers aware of their competition
The Denver Nuggets, Utah Jazz and Dallas Mavericks are on the Lakers' radar.
The Nuggets (37-19) trail the Lakers (42-14) by only five games in the Western Conference standings, recently defeating the league-leading Cleveland Cavaliers (43-14) and the Boston Celtics and are victorious against the Lakers twice already this season. The Jazz (36-19) isn't too far behind, sitting 5.5 games out of first place in the West after finishing 4-0 on a its most recent trip. And the Dallas Mavericks (35-21) are in the mix too, winning their past three games and recently acquiring Caron Butler and Brendan Haywood from Washington.
"We're all aware of what other teams are doing around the league, how teams are playing and who's playing well collectively and individually," Fisher said. "We're aware of how Denver is playing and how other teams are competing. But we know until you play that team, there isn't much you can do about it but focus on yourself."
But The Times' Broderick Turner wrote the Lakers are more worried about themselves. After all, the Lakers (42-14) currently lead the West by five games and will remain in that spot so long as they keep winning. The Riverside Press Enterprise's Dan Weber reported that mindset has extended to the Cavaliers (43-14) sitting only a half game above the Lakers for the league's best record, even if Fox Sports' Charley Rosen correctly observed that the team's third consecutive loss shows the "Cavs' aura of invincibility has vanished."
The Lakers aren't just aware of teams such as Denver and Utah creeping up in the standings. They're also cognizant that they're currently going through a quiet part of their schedule that's featured a four-day All-Star break, two games the following week and a four-day stretch between games before the Lakers resume competition Tuesday against Memphis. It picks up in March, though, where only four of the 15 games are at home. But the Daily News' Elliott Teaford noted that Lakers Coach Phil Jackson is "looking forward to it, actually."
More Lakers links (after the jump)
--Lakers forward Lamar Odom may not be watching much of the Winter Olympics, but ESPN Los Angeles' Dave McMenamin explains how Team USA's bronze finished in 2004 remains fresh in Odom's mind as he gears up for another Olympic run in 2012.
--Lakers executive vice president Jeanie Buss often shares her thoughts on Twitter. But this is the next best thing: Buss' thoughts on video. NBA Fanhouse's Jon Weinbach talks to Buss about her dad, the NBA and Jackson.
--One side effect of Lakers guard Kobe Bryant sitting out is that he's no longer first or second in the MVP race. NBA.com's Steve Aschburner, who ranked Bryant third behind LeBron James and Kevin Durant, said he won't punish Bryant for his injury, writing "There's a saying in sports that you don't lose your starting job to injury, and The Race has a similar version: An MVP candidate doesn't lose his Top 3 ranking to an injury that doesn't require surgery or figure to sideline him for more than a few weeks."
--Bryant isn't just the cover subject in the latest issue of GQ. He also graces the front cover in the latest issue of Dime magazine. Those wanting to read the story can go to pages 62-69. If that's too hard, well tough luck. I'd link each page individually but the address is still the same.
--You may as well stay at the Dime website for a little bit. They compiled a Top 10 list ranking the NBA's frontcourts, with the Lakers' Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom Andrew Bynum and Ron Artest boasting the league's most dangerous tandem inside.
--Magic guard Jameer Nelson told NBA Fanhouse's Tim Povtak that he'll do his part to prevent a Lakers-Cavs Finals matchup. The reasons likely extend beyond finding the Nike puppet commercials to be annoying.
Tweet of the Day: "Nah bro, I don't think Reggie would appreciate it. Lmao" -- RealLamarOdom (Odom to a follower on why he couldn't hook him up with sister--in-law Kim Kardashian, who is the girlfriend of Saints running back Reggie Bush.
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Photo: Nuggets guard Chauncey Billups dishes off after Lakers forward Lamar Odom provides help defense in a recent game. Credit: Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times.