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Caught in the Web: Lakers have plenty to feel good about in 96-81 victory over Utah Jazz

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Talk about ending something on a good note.

The Lakers may be without guard Kobe Bryant (sprained left ankle) and center Andrew Bynum (sore right hip), but the team, at least for now, has been able to absorb their absences. The latest effort came Wednesday in the Lakers 96-81 victory over the Utah Jazz, capping a three-game winning streak that has come without two key starters, ending the Jazz's (32-19) nine-game winning streak and securing arguably their best road win all season. To think, last week the focus centered on the Lakers' (41-13) so-so two-week trip and sluggish performances against Charlotte (close win) and Denver (embarrassing loss). And let's not forget that whole "does-Kobe-pass-the-ball-enough versus does-Pau-get-enough-touches debate.

No one on the Lakers is questioning Bryant's value to the team during his absence, and why would they? Bynum's case, however, is a tad different. With Lamar Odom posting solid double-double figures in the last three games, Lakers Coach Phil Jackson acknowledged his coaching staff is encouraging him to start Odom over Bynum, although Jackson told the Orange County Register's Kevin Ding, "I'm not ready to do that."

That's a topic for another day. For now, the Lakers head into the All-Star break taking comfort in the fact that their identity isn't in shatters without Bryant. The Lakers have Pau Gasol, who has offered a different leadership style under Bryant's absence and became only the sixth player in NBA history to record game highs in points (21), rebounds (19), assists (eight) and blocks (five) Monday in the team's win over San Antonio. And they had a solid supporting cast around Gasol, a luxury that wasn't always afforded to Bryant this season.

More Lakers links (after the jump):

-- It was no surprise Bryant was among the 27 players selected for the 2010-2012 U.S. national men's basketball team. It was a surprise to Odom, however, that he was named.

-- Bynum declined an invitation to play for the national team because of concerns his participation would slow his recuperation from a litany of nagging injuries (knee, hip). It's something Coach Phil Jackson actually thought was a "good decision."

-- Lakers.com reporter Mike Trudell has an insightful Q&A with Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak. Among the highlights: Kupchak doesn't anticipate any major trades, but is willing to make "tweaks" as he called it. He likes Artest's play. And he was reluctant to compare Bryant and Jerry West.

-- Among his top-five trades that should happen, ESPN's Chad Ford (insider subscription required) seems to be in agreement with Lakers fans that the team should find a way to get Chicago Bulls guard Kirk Hinrich. Ford suggests the Lakers ship reserves Jordan Farmar, Adam Morrison and Josh Powell to make the deal happen.

-- There doesn't seem to be a day that goes by without reports surfacing that Hinrich is involved in trade talks, including Thursday. Hinrich told the Chicago Sun-Times that if it were up to him, he would remain on the Bulls.

-- No need for the paparazzi. Khloe Kardashian, Odom's wife and reality TV star on "Keeping Up With the Kardashians," shares her photo gallery on her trip to the White House.

-- With Lakers guard Derek Fisher beating Bryant to the race for 1,000 career games, Fisher says he definitely plans on giving Mamba a hard time about it.

--Everything you want to know from Bryant about trading cards, TV shows and more importantly whether the Lakers can win a championship this season. Slam Magazine's Lang Whitaker has the Q&A.

Tweet of the Day: "Guy at security checkpoint just asked Jordan Farmar: "Are you news media?" Farmar informed him quickly that he is a player" -- mcten (ESPN Los Angeles' Dave McMenamin)

-- Mark Medina

Follow the L.A. Times Lakers blog on Twitter. E-mail the Lakers blog at mgmedin@gmail.com.

Photo: Jazz guard Ronnie Price passes the ball out of the key while being defended by Lamar Odom, right, and Josh Powell during the Lakers' 96-81 victory Wednesday in Utah. Credit: Steve C. Wilson / Associated Press

 
Comments () | Archives (32)

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What really bothers me is that regardless of Pau's amazing talent and skill, not to mention class, there will always be tasteless people who will claim he's "soft". Just because he's not an animal bashing down people. They are forced to shut up now, but be ready... their nonsense will appear back as soon as he will miss a game.

*sigh*.

Pau is a player that will gain the history status at the end of his career and none more than me wants his career to be COMPLETED with our colours forever.

The Bynum trouble is something that I hope gets solved soon as well.

Lamar is a superior class player. But I prefer to have also teh Bynum option available, so that our game can have all cards we are supposed to be able to play.

I can bet PJ will keep start Bynum over Lamar. Which doesn't mean Lamar won't get his valuable minutes. And in teh end, Lamar will still one of the three major keys to our final victory.

I'm not worried at all.

I just long to have all of the guys back and healthy.

Then I will enjoy the way we will swipe off any competition.

LAKERGATE CONSPIRACY THEORY:

I think Pau is conspiring with with Lamar and Dfish to undermine dethrone Kobe by not playing hard when Kobe is in the line. All of a sudden Kobe is not in a line up and Pau (no more hammy problem), Lamar (season high 25 pts), Dfish (high fiving Pau) are playing their best game.


Et tu, Brute

Perhaps one thing PJ is mulling over in addition to what's been described is that Odom is one of the players who really, really tends to "defer" to Kobe when they're both on the floor together. Sure, Odom and Gasol play well together...when Kobe isn't there. Then, as we saw the last few games, Odom and Gasol are the main go-to guys and they know it, and their teammates know it. IOW, everyone's on the same page.

But throw Kobe into the mix, and suddenly it gets a bit muddled. Kobe tells his teammates he wants them to be aggressive, but when you watch the games, you see long stretches where Kobe DEMANDS the ball, and gripes at his teammates when they don't give it to him.

Don't get me wrong. Most of the time it works because Kobe is probably the best player in the league. But from a team standpoint, I'm sure some of the guys are scratching their heads.

As far as Bynum going to the bench, I don't know. I'm hopeful for Bynum and I've enjoyed watching his growth the last couple of years. I also understand his frustration with the officiating and with Kobe at times. If you look around the league, most teams don't really have a true power center. That SHOULD give us an advantage in starting Bynum. But that only works if you make the other team pay, i.e. by pounding the ball inside where you have the advantage. But because of Bynum's youth (IOW, his place in the Lakers' pecking order) and Kobe's tendency to dominate the ball, we don't do that. So on the other end, Drew is stuck trying to guard perimeter-oriented centers, and/or smaller, quicker players. The end result of all that is we end up with the disadvantage.

So I guess my thought is, if you're not going to use Bynum to make the other team pay for not having a true center, maybe you should start Odom.

GASOL IS SOFT, NIMBLE LIKE A BALLET DANCER:

eeeeeeeeeew I would not want to see PAU in tutus.. prancing around..


MM

question answered.

LSI: Love your analysis! Loved your work on JFK & 9/11 too!

The whole "Pau is soft" deal comes down to one thing, and it isn't whether or not he's mentally tough. Pau certainly is mentally very tough.

But, he's "soft" in the sense that he has a hard time playing through contact. If the defender manages to bump Pau while he's shooting, and not get called for the foul, Pau usually misses. That's why he relies on fakes and quick moves rather than brute force to get good shots. Fortunately, he's quite good at it.

But because of his slight build (for the NBA), absorbing contact and still making a shot is not something he's good at.

Take the Lakers team from the last three games, add in a Kobe
who is willing to work his magic from within the system, and a
modest contribution from Bynum, and I think a 75 win season
would be well within reach.

When players are really having fun playing, they focus a lot
more, they prepare better, etc. That is what I have seen the
past three games.

Laker Fans,


You saw what I saw the last 3 games. Teamwork, Ball Movement, Energy, Defense, Triangle Offense that was actually ran, Happy Players with everyone touching the ball, Domination, and 3 straight eye popping displays of great basketball.


After witnessing these games if I am Buss I don't give Kobe or PJ a new contract unless they win it all again this year. This season is on them. PJ allows Kobe to dominate the ball so this is on THEM.


After watching these last 3 games it was like it was SHOWTIME again. Everyone touching the ball and the ball movement was like.......SHOWTIME.


I just wish Kobe had a little MAGIC in him.


BD

Pau and Lamar don't play well together when Kobe is there as well???

Jeez... I am so tired of this nonsense.

Jason, really: have you seen by a fortuite case last year Finals? Last year playoffs?

Have you?

I mean.. with 5 senses connected?

Okay.

Don't answer.

I seriously am startin to dislike coming here.
It's like following BSPN idiocities in waves, for a multiplied factor.

Esponentially growing utter nonsense.

Tired.

Really.

Pau is not soft. He is finesse player with high ball IQ and only have the team at heart. He inspires everyone to play "team" ball. He is not that leader that always dictates or demands attention. He values teamwork a lot and he shows it. It clearly shows in the Lakers last 3 games, so far, the best that this team has played this year. It has immensely inspired his teammates. Kobe might have a better basketball skills compared to Gasol but Pau is effective as well. Leadership wise, I feel his "style" fits more this Lakers team. I hope PJ can find a way on how to mesh the "best" of what these 2 players can offer. Lakers is very lucky to have these 2 guys.

Interesting, I see these comments about Kobe griping about not getting the ball. Where have you seen this?

Yes, he demands the ball, but, that's where PJ, Pau and Fisher have commented that they know they have to not always give it to him. It's not about Kobe Griping, it's about the others simply not giving it, and, I have not seen him Gripe about it.

The good thing about Drew, Odom, and Pau, is that all three have expressed the desire to work with each other on the court. Drew has already acknowledged that Pau's a much better passer than Drew is. Pau has expressed a desire to work together. They'll work the chemistry thing out.

Kobe,Pau are going to be solid as always.
If Odom and Andrew can be always aggressive with rebound and defense they make the team unbeatable
If Sasha can step up and have more confidence in shooting like he did in 2008 Lakers will have a solid Bench Mob.
Ron & Fish should burn their energy only on defense.

It is a good thing lakers lost to Cavs & Nuggets which will get them to be more prepared.

Already Cavs & Denver are getting their Pants wet wondering another Title to Laker si inevitable.

I disliked coming here about 8 months ago (first post since then). Some "fans" are so reactionary. Now we have a "Kobe Controversy". Some folks refuse to look at the big picture; they'd rather react to now.

Jason, I get your point, and it has some merit, but I can't tag anyone as soft that can pull down 19 boards in the NBA, esp two games in a row.

Chad Ford suggests the Lakers should trade for Kirk Hinrich?

He doesn't know what he is talking about. How does Hinrich make the Lakers better? Does he start or D. Fish?

Who will defend quick PG's? Not Hinrich or Fisher for sure.
Chad clearly doesn't care that such a trade will make the Lakers an older team.

Chad Ford probably agreed with the Devin Harris for Jason Kidd trade which was dumb from the moment it was proposed. Dallas would have been much better had they kept Harris.

Zaira---Did you actually watch the playoffs last year? How poorly the Lakers played against an undermanned Houston team? How fortunate they were to win two of the early games against Orlando?

Anyone can see that they failed to play anywhere near their potential last year. DESPITE the fact that they won the championship.

Many of us know that the Lakers can play better, and we're thrilled by the possibility that having Kobe in the mix with the team play we've seen the last three games will yield true greatness, true beauty on the court. That is what motivates our comments.

First, the Pau soft stuff. Really, looked pretty good in the Championship Finals , etc last year. He is what he is, a finesse-type player with great passing, shooting and free throw shooting skills. I'll take him.
Second, please stop the Kobe bashing, he is who he is as well. He's dedicated to winning period. Yes, Phil needs to show him that over the long haul, his teammates can help achieve that. However, those teammates need to step up and perform when Kobe's on the court. I can't tell you how many times I've seen Kobe set up a teammate and they blow a wide open shot. And why can't those teammates play lock-down defense regardless?

Lakergate Scandel Investigator

LOL, good one!

It's not fun here. Lot's of hatorade. It is beginning to feel like I am at BSPN blog. No wonder I don't see much of good posters like last year.

I'm signing off and tuning myself off this blog. It is not community anymore for Lakers fans. It became anti-Kobe and pro-Kobe forum. Kobe versus the whole of basketball, potraying Kobe and Phil as the 2 most idiotic people in the world. People here feels like they know basketball more than these 2 "most idiotic people". And by the way, Kobe has 4 rings and Phil 10 rings by being idiots like what most of the posters here are suggesting.

Stop the hate, just appreciate. If you need to criticize be objective. I guess haters would rather have the Lakers not win the championship just to prove their point. Too bad, Lakers will win it all this year and the years to come.

Adios mabalos, enjoy your hating.

Hey guys a new post is up

MM

Jeanette - I'm sorry you feel that way. Obviously there's lots of reaction among this community and many varying perspectives. Because of just my overall view of things, I tend to be very pragmatic and is middle of the road about many issues. The reason why I bring that up is the posts I write are meant to enlighten and inform as well as spark discussion not to be divisive but just to share ideas and debate back and forth. It may be a fair observation that you see different posters holding extreme views compared to your own, but I'd want your viewpoints as well. I want this place to be not where there's personal arguments and debate in black and white terms, but passioned discussion that makes people comfortable to express their viewpoints and sort all the nuance that is usually present in all walks of life.

I'm sorry you haven't felt that kind of atmosphere, but I hope for you to reconsider.

MM

I think if I were Kobe, I'd try to lead the league in assists (probably can't this year, but could put up some big assist numbers still). He can still bail us out if and when needed at the end of the 4th.
Mr. Bynum, I just don't know what to think. I think I would give him up for CP3 (healthy). He does have skills, but doesn't seem to care one way or the other.
Hinrich? I'm thinking that Phoenix is going no where fast. Amare is probably leaving. They are a mess. While our basic group is 30-ish (Kobe, Lamar, Pau, Ron) why don't we try for Nash (did re-sign for 3 yeas, I believe)? He would fit for the next 2 years and give us great PG play! Phoenix needs to go young, start over. Nash for Morrison, Farmar, Sahsa? Really the best trade $$ money-wise to help Phoenix dump $$ would be Morrison and Fisher. I'm wondering if they could waive Fish and we re-sign? I know Lakers wouldn't trade Derek, but are we here to make friends or win titles?

@ T_MELT:

Yeah, I don't get the reactionaries on here either. It's like they forgot that it is an 82-game season. Jon K. likes to call them "Chicken Littles", which I find to be pretty apt.

@ Zaira:

Please do not be disheartened by a great number of the posters here. They seem to have removed their mental filter before they started posting. You and I (as well as a number of people) know that this is a long season, and that we will need everyone to play well to win another championship.

I like the fact that you post here, and I hope that persuades you to continue.

Jason, I get your point, and it has some merit, but I can't tag anyone as soft that can pull down 19 boards in the NBA, esp two games in a row.


Yeah, 19 boards against no legitimate centers....

Wonder if Pau can match this against Shaq or Dwight

Hey MM, can you transfer my latest post to the new one? Please if you could thanks!

DJ,

I can't physically do that. Just repost in the comments section and I'll approve the comment.

Thanks,

MM

duncan is a pretty good center/power forward. pau did pretty well against him....didnt he?

DTM - you've never seen Kobe demand the ball or gripe about not getting it? Do you not watch Laker games? Not only does he clearly do it, but the announcers often point it out themselves.


Zaira - was last year's playoffs really the pinnacle of this team? Do you really think they played well? A Houston team missing 40% of their payroll took them to 7 games, a poorly disciplined Denver team was a couple terrible inbounds (and great plays by Ariza) away from winning in 5, and Orlando just folded under the pressure. The Lakers played "good enough", and that's all you can say. This is an incredibly talented team that is showing that it can play a whole lot better than it's shown in the past.

Cali, you're cute and sweet, and I appreciate what you said but really I am getting tired and unamused by the atmosphere here.

It's getting out of control and I feel stranded by such bitterness.

This game and this team for me Are a joy .
Always.

I have been at Staples last year for the Finals and I will be' there again this one.

Lakers Are my favourite game.

Coming here is a plus, which used to' be' fun, entertaining and enlightening.

Not that much of it anymore.

I guess some vacation by my side won't hurt anyone. And it will allow me to' keep enjoying the team without having to' stand all this raging commentaries.

When I will feel the love is back, I will be' back.

You can count on it. ;)

Jeanette and ZairaAmaterasu,

I see and get tired of some of the negative voices around here and just shake my head as to how uninfomed they are in their negative comments. Some I used to debate but some see the light and think broader and some will never wake up. So I limit my comment to those whom I agree with or those worthy of having an open mind to constuctively criticise players and coaches without hating. I find it refreshing to talk to people with open mind even if we don't agree.

I see your posts as insightfull and thought out and refreshing even if I don't always agee on some things but do on others.

No matter where you go there will be short minded people so don't let them win. Blog to your hearts content and don't change.

Use scroll button to ignore the negative comments and keep your refreshing to read.

Just my two cents so feel free to listen or ignore.

Best always and hope you guys stay. ;-))


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