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Lakers' second-half run key in 122-99 victory over Indiana Pacers

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The dam was just about to break.

After grabbing the rebound off a missed shot from Indiana forward Troy Murphy, Lakers forward Pau Gasol immediately found Kobe Bryant up court. He then passed to the far right corner where Ron Artest was open behind the perimeter. He followed with an alley oop lob to Andrew Bynum, who dunked it home for an eight-point lead, prompting Indiana to call timeout with 5:27 remaining in the third quarter.

It was the kind of play that typified the Lakers’ third-quarter run. And it was just the beginning. By the time the Lakers entered the fourth quarter, the only pressing thing entailed whether the 18,997 fans at Staples Center would get free tacos. With Jordan Farmar's late-game steal, the fans got what they wanted in addition to a 122-99 victory Tuesday over the Indiana Pacers. 

"I'm not playing for tacos, man," said Farmar, laughing, after putting together 19 points on eight of 10 shooting off the bench. 

Instead, the Lakers played to ensure an easy victory after it appeared to be the makings of a trap game. But as far as what to make of it? There was a reason Lakers Coach Phil Jackson described the game as a "good win" before quickly shifting focus to the team's upcoming trip with stops to Miami  (Thursday), Charlotte (Friday) and Orlando (Sunday). The Lakers (46-15) pounded on a team they were supposed to beat, with Indiana (20-40) faring only better than the New Jersey Nets (6-53) in the Eastern Conference. 

"You have games like this where you can do things," Jackson said.

Sure, there were some developing story lines. 

You can focus on the latest update of Bryant's shooting struggles in his fifth game since returning from a left ankle sprain. He went five of 14 from the field, including a zero of four clip in the first quarter. But he scored his team-leading 24 points with constant drives to the basket, and going 14 of 15 from the stripe. 

"That’s kind of how you get your rhythm back. Get to the free throw line a little bit," Bryant said. "They gave me more space. It was a lot easier to penetrate and get in there. Normally you always have somebody down there and it’s tough to get to the basket. Tonight we opened it up a little bit more and I was able to get to the free throw line." 

"I think he felt like his outside game wasn’t going and he had to take the ball to the basket," Jackson said. "Getting to the foul line was the way he scored for us tonight. That’s certainly part of the plan. I think it can be brutal. I think it can be injury prone. You have to take care of yourself when you go to the basket a lot. But I think he found a way to play tonight."

You can focus on Artest locking in on Indiana forward Danny Granger, and holding him to nine points on two of nine shooting. You can focus on Artest's five steals in the third quarter. And you can focus on this being the latest sign that Artest has shaped up defensively. He shared again that the improvement started after the All-Star break as his new diet helped him become more agile. But there was another reason why Artest has been a changed man as of late. 

"I sensed that everybody was making so many trades, but we didn’t make no trades," Artest said. "I wanted to make sure I could be a whole new person after the new trade. Its kind of like a new trade. They brought me in twice. It was a hell of a deal."

"We're starting to adjust to what he can do defensively, which I think helps us too," said Jackson, whose explanation made more sense. "He asks us not to send double teams and he'll let a guy take a guy out on his own and that allows us to play tighter defense on the other side of the court, especially in isolation when he's caught."

You can focus on Farmar's 19 points on a season-high eight field goals. He revealed afterwards he's been playing with a hurt pinkie since last week's game against Memphis. Farmar didn't make it to shootaround since he was getting his pinkie taped, but he didn't lose his touch. 

"Sometimes our system is going to be like that," Farmar said "Some nights you'll have more opportunities. Some nights like against Denver I had two looks. I went two for two but I had only two shots. That’s how it goes sometimes. Sometimes you're going to get 10, 12, 14 looks, sometimes you get one, two. You just go take it. You got to play the right way and not try to do too much, but be aggressive and be ready for your opportunities."

Or you can focus on some other story lines. There was Gasol and Bynum exploiting Indiana's undersized lineup with 56 points in the paint. There was reserve forward Adam Morrison scoring six points in 15 minutes. And there was reserve guard Shannon Brown suffering an injured right thumb in the third quarter. 

"I really can't describe it," Brown said. "I don't really know what happened. All I knew was I went to block the shot and then my thumb hit the ball. It just started hurting."

Or you can focus on the game itself. 

The Lakers initially played as if the energy was spent on beating Denver on Sunday. They shot zero of seven from the field and didn’t record their first field goal until Gasol made an eight-footer with 6:21 left in the first quarter. They trailed 10-8 at the time thanks to converting on all their trips to the free throw line. And the Pacers led 28-27 at the end of the first quarter, an effort that included the Lakers shooting 38.1%. The only energy that seemed present was during the Kiss Cam segment early in the game that featured a great acting job from Sophia Vergara (Gloria) & Ty Burrell (Phil) of ABC's "Modern Family."

The contest had the makings of a trap game, or at least another game that featured a less than impressive win against an inferior opponent, much like the Lakers' performance last week against Philadelphia.  But the Lakers started avoiding that from happening in the second quarter. A lineup that featured Brown, Farmar, Morrison, Odom and Gasol put together a 14-8 run and earned a 41-36 lead with 7:15 remaining in the second quarter. And after that timeout with 5:27 leftin the third quarter, the Lakers outscored Indiana, 26-6, en route to a 98-71 lead after the third quarter. 

"We just got used to their style of play," Bryant said. "It’s a different style of play in the post and they play the high post offense. We settled in a little bit and got back in transition."

Even though I devoted amounts of copy to the aforementioned storylines, they don't mean much beyond the Lakers did what they needed to do. That's because the Lakers have tougher business to handle fairly soon.

"I haven't been impressed with our last week or so," Jackson said. "I don't think we've gotten out to good starts. That'll come along."

--Mark Medina

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

Photo: Kobe Bryant, shown making an inside move on Indiana's Brandon Rush, had 24 points and six assists to lead the Lakers to a 122-99 victory Tuesday night at Staples Center. Credit: Gina Ferazzi/Los Angeles Times.

 
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HMM really IC

04-05: Had a really crappy team and injury prone team (LO and Kobe missed time) and didn't Phil Jackson probably the ONLY year he didn't deserve the MVP.

05-06: Took the same 04-05 team that was worst off without Caron Butler and took the Phoenix Suns to 7 games and still win 45 games

06-07: Took the same 05-06 that had an injured Front line (Walton/Odom/Kwamay missed all substantial time) and still managed to get a winning record.

07-08: His long overdue MVP.

08-09: Finished 2nd yet won the RING.

I dunno about you but hell a Ring is more valuable than an MVP.

The Lakers are a talented team. We don't need an MVP performance from Kobe. But hey I guess a performance against a crappy team means Kobe sucks huh and Bynum is the MVP of the league?

We FINALLY unleash Ammo "the White Mamba" Morrison. I would publicly like to apologize for my suggesting we trade him for Kevin Garnett. I even knew about and ignored the statistic that we are 100% in the W column when we play Ammo. I am sorry.

UNLEASH RON RON !! Wow! Trevor who? And, on top of all, I love the guys attitude!

Finally, Farmar lit up the statistics. Nice shooting!!

I think the Lakers are starting to gell RIGHT ON TIME!! This is exciting.

GOOOoooOOO LAKERS !!!


The Lakers paced themselves in this game a lot like those preliminary heats for prime athletes in the Olympics, they did just enough to win. However, in the process of going thru the motions, they started having some fun and cut loose for the first time since the all-star break.

Another stellar defensive gem by Artest. Some improved shooting by Kobe (he got tapped on a few of those misses!). Farmar played solid enough to murky the D-Fish vs Farmar waters again. There was even a DJ sighting! =D

But I don't want to go into game, in which the Lakers simply did what they were supposed to do. I'd like to go into Roland Lazenby's new blog entry on his Laker Noise blog site. I just don't think that someone with the writing credentials and credibility of Lazenby, the author of quite a few NBA books - many of which pivot around Phil Jackson in one way or another - would restate that LeBron made "overtures" to the Lakers. Specifically mentioning "LeBron’s quiet approach to the Lakers’ facilitators." This implies that Lazenby has information that LeBron has approached the Lakers.

If it is true that LeBron has contacted the Lakers, even in a 'quiet' manner, this would be pretty big news.

I remember a couple years ago when Kobe was going to explore his free-agency, during a road game in Miami Mychael Thompson, formerly of the Loose Cannons, the old KLAC sports radio show, was interviewing his old coach Pat Riley. Kobe happened to pass by during the interview and mentioned to Pat that it would be nice to play for him sometime. It kind of flew under the radar, not even Steve Hartman made a big deal over it, but I thought it was almost like sending out a feeler to draw interest in free agency.

Could LeBron simply have said something along those lines to Phil Jackson or perhaps another member of the Lakers heirarchy? Maybe just sending out a feeler, just to stir a bit more interest in him.

The Lakers are what, $30-million over the current cap, which will almost assuredly be reduced, so if one looks at the odds of this happening at next-to-none. I would think that the only way the Lakers could make such a move happen is through a sign-and-trade, but why would the Cav's do that? He is a hometown hero, even IF (yes, pure fantasy speculation) the Lakers would include Kobe and say Bynum in such a move, why would the Cav's send the face of their franchise, the face of their city off to glamour city L.A. and give the Lakers the biggest player in the NBA outside of Kobe?

So, assuming the Cav's wouldn't do a sign-and-trade with the Lakers, I just don't see how the Lakers could clear up enough cap space with all the contracts they have on the books to get even near the salary cap, let alone far enough below it to come even remotely close to a max-deal that LeBron will be seeking. LeBron may want to come to L.A., but not at the expense of leaving $100-million or more on the table simply to take a small mid-level or so deal from the Lakers.

What that means is that perhaps LeBron is making overtures for Phil Jackson to JOIN him in another city, like New York. Now THIS I can see, Phil has Knickerbocker roots, he considered going there before returning to the Lakers and this would be a challenge that he could really relish and would absolutely cement his legacy as greatest NBA coach if he were to take over a floundering franchise and turn them into a champion.

Can anyone else envision this happening? If anything this provides Phil Jackson the best of bargaining chips, 'tupping the owners daughter' aside. The Lakers would then probably be looking to raise the ante just to keep him here, because a Phil Jackson-led Knicks team with LeBron and possibly Dwayne Wade or Chris Bosh would be a scary proposition and would probably be the Lakers biggest obstacle to this budding dynasty they're currently riding.

Phil though is the master of mind games, Lazenby has served as his unofficial mouthpiece on other occasions. Perhaps it's Phil that is passing on this tidbit of information regarding LeBron because he wants to put his own name in the news. If anything, it is very curious timing, coming on the heels of Lazenby's Jerry West book release.

Well, if anything this whole LeBron to the Lakers topic will provide for a lot of interesting rumination from now until the day LeBron finally does make a decision this upcoming summer. Pretty fascinating stuff if you ask me...

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PRAY FOR THE HEALTH OF utzworld THE BANNER HOLDERS CHILD & FAMILY – BANDWAGON
* (ALSO PRAY FOR MR NANO & HIS FAMILIES RECOVERY FROM THE EARTHQUAKE
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Mamba, Jon K, Faith, LakerTom & the Lakers Blog Patriarchs (and the entire Lakers Blog family): Mini Banner Holder-ette has just been diagnosed with level 5 lead poisoning due to chipped (and CHEAP) paint in our apartment. She is fine, but please pray for her healing, health & safety. Her name is Mikayla (hence her Blog nickname Mini Banner Holder-ette - and she is in line to take the mantle...she's the only one in the house who will watch all 4 quarters of a Laker game with me). Just turned 10 months old.Thank you.Posted by: utzworld - THE BANNER HOLDER | March 02, 2010
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(01) MAMBA24 - OWNER - utzworld my brother all my thoughts and prayers go out to you and your family. It's a shame in this day and time that this kind of stuff still happens. Stay strong Brother! Mr. NANO I’m glad you are safe and may the Lord watch over you & your family
(02) THE OUTLAW – DRIVER - Utzworld: I simply cannot fathom how you must be feeling. I know that all of the blog faithful will be sending healing energy and thoughts to your daughter, myself included.
(03) EDWIN GUECO – RIDING SHOTGUN - Utz, As you have prayed for us in times of need, I'm sure the blog nation will pray for your Mini Holderette. Can we please start a bandwagon for Mikayla? As the holder of the mini banner, she should be cleansed from this lead immediately & healed through the power of the blog prayers in our weekly prayers for the sick. Also, try to document all the findings, I think you are entitled to just Compensation to cover her medical expenses.
(04) #4 -
(05) VMAN - BANNER HOLDER, thoughts and prayers with you, bro. as a father I can appreciate how this must be consuming you. kids are strong, and Laker fans are fighters. those 2 add up to a good prognosis.
(06) JEANETTE - Utzworld, I will include your daughter in my devotional prayers. You can count on your Lakersblog family. Mr. NANO, I pray for you and your family's safety and your country as well
(07) LAKERLASS - First, my best positive energy goes out to our Mini Banner Holder-ette. We hold up a banner of our own just for you, sweetie.
(08) phred – MR NANO, Utz - much love to you and your families, i will be thinking of both of you. As always, it's amazing how supportive this blog family is in times of trouble. Unless of course you happen to actually play for the Lakers, of course.
(09) JUSTANOTHERMAMBAFAN – utz, Mr NANO - hope you and your families are all ok. My prayers are with you both. utzworld - I truly am sorry for the situation you find yourself in with your beautiful little Banner Holderette. I am hoping and praying with all my heart that she will be fine and that she will waive the Laker banner proudly for many long, fruitful years to come. My sincerest best wishes - always.
(10) JON K - MrNano (the earthquaked), Are you okay?
(11) CHIC N STU - Welcome back Mr Nano, I hope you and your family are doing well. Utz our prayers.
(12) MARK G. - @Mini Banner Holder-ette, Get well and good luck child.
(13) JUSTALAKERFAN - Please add me to the Utz bandwagon as he who dispenses so many prayers deserves many in return.
(14) FEARLESS - , put me on the utzworld bandwagon pronto, without delay! utz, my prayers and those of my family are with you! Also you & your family Mr. Nano
(15) BILLY IN SLO - add me the Utzworld prayer bandwagon, gotta LOVE this blog-It's the people-Amen
(16)

The ONLY way Lakers get BronBron is through Magic Johnson.

Why?

Well, he'd have to take a massive pay cut down to MLE type money (unless you blow up the team in a sign & trade)...

The only way he'd shave 15 mill (and it IS about the money with him), is if Magic promised to turn him into a business mogul like himself

Cyber, anyone who still doesn't respect Phil after 10 rings isn't going to respect him if he wins one with Lebron, whether its as a Knick or not.

""I'm not playing for tacos, man," said Farmar, laughing, after putting together 19 points on eight of 10 shooting off the bench."

You should, Farmar, instead of being cocky.

Tacos means not only a victory, but good defense.

What do we play for? RINGS!!!!

Lakers Today... Lakers Tomorrow... Lakers Forever.

GO LAKERS!!!!

Hold on! Hold on! Hold on!

What's going on with Utzworld?

Is he okay?

What do we play for? RINGS!!!!

Lakers Today... Lakers Tomorrow... Lakers Forever.

GO LAKERS!!!!

Lebron needs to get out of party-town Cleveland, I'm sure he could find a nice place to live along the coast, on his mid-level salary, hey even Medvdenko invested in a house. Look, how much money does one man need. He gets plenty form endorsements considering he is Greg Oden's twin (at least above the waist), he needs massive PR work, Kobe's people could do it. He probably makes more from Nike than anyone but Tiger (in the past)....so it shouldn't be about money. If OK with Kobe, come for the midlevel, bring Shaq (retired or absolute veteran minimum, but I think he's on a contract still, we need someone to beatup Bynum and Gasol in practice.....Morrison looked decent out there, keep giving him 10 minutes a game, but no, the next time you'll see Morrison will be at the end of the season, cleaning out his locker.Farmar and Brown can hold down the point in the future, actually now, but we're in Jax's Mind Games......


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