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Lakers have injuries on their mind following 107-91 loss to the Clippers


Next week, the Lakers won’t worry about limiting starters minutes. Instead, they’ll see of their strategy in resting Kobe Bryant and Andrew Bynum will pay off in the postseason. Next week, the Lakers won’t experience a game that is a buffet – with shots and minutes seemingly available for everyone. Instead the Lakers will find out if any of the unresolved issues involving team chemistry will work itself out naturally, an integral ingredient needed for a strong playoff run. Next week, the Lakers won’t remember much from their ugly 107-91 loss Wednesday to the Clippers, which tied the season series. Instead, they’ll be trying to put away a young and inexperienced Oklahoma City Thunder away in the first round of the NBA playoffs, beginning Sunday.

There’s one thing, however, that will still remain prevalent from the season-finale. And that’s the team’s health.

Lakers reserve Sasha Vujacic sprained his left ankle with 2:51 left in the second quarter after Clippers guard Mardy Collins fouled him on a three-point attempt. After Vujacic attempted a 20-foot jumper from the left corner, he landed on Collins’ foot. Vujacic lay on the sideline wincing in pain before team trainer Gary Vitti and reserve Jordan Farmar helped him off the court.

Vujacic, who plans to have an MRI Thursday, didn’t talk to reporters after the game, and was seen being carted away from the team’s entrance tunnel. The news, however, didn’t sound too promising, with the team labeling the injury as “severe.”

“That’s a difficult sprain,” Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said of Vujacic, whose x-rays were negative. “That one is going to be a while. He could miss the first round, easily.”

That wasn’t the only concern. Jackson revealed afterwards Lakers forward Ron Artest played only 15 minutes because of a twisted ankle he suffered during the game. Artest was equally as vague, saying he didn’t remember how he hurt his ankle and even which ankle he hurt.

“I’ll be fine,” said Artest, who is also nursing a sprained left thumb. “I don’t worry about it.”

The Lakers should. They treated the last two games of the regular season as glorified scrimmages, particularly because Sacramento (25-57) and the Clippers (29-53) aren’t making the playoffs. But the reason also pointed to the team’s desire to become as healthy as possible entering the postseason. Bryant sat out four of the last five contests to heal as best he can an assorted amount of injuries including a fractured right index finger, a left ankle sprain and a sore right knee. Bynum missed 13 consecutive games because of a strained left Achilles’ tendon, and the training staff penciled in his return date to coincide with the beginning of the postseason. Farmar sprained his left hamstring in the Lakers 106-100 victory Tuesday over Sacramento, and played only 1.3 seconds to ensure an 82-game season. Otherwise, he’s just waiting for the playoffs to begin.

“Just trying to get it as right as I can,” Farmar said. “It’s unfortunate Sasha had to go down. Hopefully we get him back as soon as possible. We have other people who can hold down the spot. We want him healthy and contributing to our team and we wish him the best.”

Vujacic isn’t the main concern, however, though he had been on a recent tear, most notably scoring a season-high 13 points against Sacramento. Instead, Vujacic’s injury extends a larger issue that has plagued the Lakers all season with overlapping injuries disrupting team continuity.

“It’s a part of basketball,” Artest said. “It’s a part of it. It’s a part of what happens. Even tonight, Sasha was playing well and he was driving the ball a little bit and playing aggressive the last couple of games and he gets hurt. That’s an injury to our team. But we move on.”

The verdict is still out on that, but as far as Wednesday’s performance goes, Vujacic’s injury coincided with the team’s poor play, with Jackson noting, “From the end of the second quarter on, we pooped our pants.”

The Clippers opened the third quarter with a 9-2 run en route to a 26-16 mark in the third quarter, while the Lakers shot 23.8% during that time period. All in all, it made for a performance that featured the Lakers allowing the Clippers to end a disappointing season on a high note. Free agent guard Steve Blake recorded his first triple double, with 23 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists. Clippers center Chris Kaman owned the paint inside, scoring 22 points on eight of 16 shooting. The Lakers shot 39.5% from the field, while allowing the Clippers to manufacture 29 fast-break points, an effort that happened without Baron Davis (sprained right ankle), Drew Gooden (sore right knee) and Eric Gordon (viral infection).

But the performance wasn’t the thing that mattered. What mattered was the fact the Lakers didn’t rest their starters as much as they would have liked. Lakers forward Pau Gasol, who scored 18 points on seven of 14 shooting, played the entire third quarter. Lakers forward Lamar Odom, who had 21 points on seven of 12 shooting, played the entire fourth quarter, even with nursing an injured left shoulder. And Lakers guard Derek Fisher logged 30 minutes, since Shannon Brown took Bryant’s starting spot and Vujacic and Farmar were limited.

“We didn’t have any bodies,” Jackson said. “We only had six or seven guys who could play.”

The postseason presents another animal and the Lakers expect to ratchet up their intensity. But they’re not entering the postseason as in good shape as they had hoped. Jackson acknowledged disappointment in the team’s overall performance in the regular season, saying that 60 games was a minimum I thought this team could win and we didn’t match it. He also expected a transition period for Bynum to fully phase himself back into the lineup, which Jackson said will hinge on his conditioning level. And now, injuries to Vujacic and Artest. We’ll soon find out how everyone else will fare staying healthy.

“That’s the first concern. If you’re not healthy, it’s hard to work on the other things,” Farmar said. “Get as healthy as you can in these next couple of days.”

---Below is the Lakers' playoff schedule

Game 1 at L.A. (Sunday April 18, noon, ABC)

Game 2 at L.A. (Tuesday April 20, 7:30 p.m., TNT)

Game 3 at O.K. City (Thursday April 22, 6:30 p.m. TNT)

Game 4 at O.K. City (Saturday, April 24, 9:30 p.m. ESPN)

Game 5* at L.A. (Tuesday April 27 TBD)

Game 6* at O.K. City (Friday April 30)

Game 7* at L.A. (Sunday May 2)

**If Necessary

--Mark Medina

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Photo: Lakers guard Sasha Vujacic lies on the floor in pain after spraining his ankle during the first half of the Clippers' victory over the Lakers on Wednesday. Credit: Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times.

Comments () | Archives (17)

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Fisher inability the defend and yes Sasha's loss will make OKC a tougher out.

Lakers best hope is that Bynum is healthy.
OKC has no answer for Andrew.
None at all.

Mitch is partially responsible for the sorry shape of the Lakers entering the playoffs. Unlike, the Cavs, Mavericks & Spurs he failed to reinforce the 14 th slot with a quick defensive guard that could be depended on to make wide open shots. Other than Pau, Kobe does not have a dependable scorer from the perimeter averaging 15-20 ppg like the Cavs, Celtics, Mavs, Nuggets, Spurs, SUNs and other contenders do. Hope Bynum is back to re-inforce the paint on both offense and defense with Pau. With OKC the Lakers cannot afford succesive poor shooting nights and a large number of TOs.

Allow me to get some ish off my chest before the playoffs begin ...

First off ... I'm cursing Kobe out in my mind in like 5 different languages even though I only speak 2 ... How many of us asked for surgery on those fingers way back, but know Doctor Mamba kept filling us with hot air on how surgery wouldn't achieve much ... I'm tearing ligaments in all my fingers, but it's cool, worst that could happen is a little more pain ... ok ok we won a championship out of it ... and you bailed team usa from gasoline and co ... but still isn't surgery during one of the past 2 off seasons looking like a great idea in hindsight now ... w/e happens this playoffs, pls get ya freaking hands fixed this off-season ... no excuses, i dont care if your pain threshold is abnormal, fix d freaking hand ... u're getting old and i'd rather see the best of what you got left

Next what up with the health issues ... we're dropping like flies ... yikes!!!

Lastly my policy is if it ain't the lakers, I ain't watching ... and if kobe ain't playing I might doze off every now and then ... but wow I'm looking at the west matchups and it's ridiculous ... spurs/dallas? are you kidding me, gimme a piece of that ...

and for purple and gold, the road begins with durantula ... broken fingers and all, we'll kill 'em ... our dynasty is alive and kicking ... it's showtime like only hollywood can do it ...

24 + 16 + [3|1|7] = The Purple Tinted Golden Age

looks like PJ had front seat for Sasha's show.

as Sharapova told U: "Every shot is a power shot"

now repeat quickly a few times:

Sasha's show Sharapova's shot Sasha's show Sharapova's shot Sasha's show Sharapova's shot Sasha's show Sharapova's shot Sasha's show Sharapova's shot


Sasha's show Sharapova's shot Sasha's show Sharapova's shot Sasha's show Sharapova's shot Sasha's show Sharapova's shot Sasha's show Sharapova's shot

Break Point. new balls.

Lakers DOW Statistical

after a heavy day of trading the Stifs felt 16 points from 107 to 91, loosing 15%.

for the past week the Market was supported by a resurgence of the Spanish goods that raised to 62.5 %. but at the end of the day even the Spanish Stats felt to a low of 50% leaving a bleak prognosis for the next few days. that was a loss of 20% just in a couple of hours.

The Slovenian stats plunged to such a low that were taken off from the trading block. obsolete and devalued.

the Stats were also influenced by a very low showing from the Fish and Farm performances.

the value of Gold from Congo did not change value, even after the Companies tried a "fresh" packaging promotion campaign.

the Stats will be closed for the next 3 days in observance of Playoff Days.
Early markets will open on Sunday ABC.

Damn Ron artest... what a crap player..this will cost the lakers the championship..

"From the second quarter on we pooped our pants."

So it's official. This year's Lakers have turned Phil from the Zen Master to Kindergarten Cop.

The other day, speaking about Sasha, Phil said the key for the bench players was to realize they don't justify their minutes by the points they score but by the performance of their unit on the floor. That theme applies to the starters as well.

One of the struggles for this team is the fact that so many of these guys are better players with the ball in their hands. It isn't selfishness. Kobe is better with the ball than off ball. The low post guys, Pau and Drew, need the ball to operate. In his earlier stops Artest was a guy who had the ball a lot and created a lot of his own shots. Fish is a point guard who wants the ball so he can run the offense, but he rarely actually does.

The Lakers don't have a real off-ball player - a Jamal Wilkes, or Ray Allen or Reggie Miller type. They don't have real spot up shooters who are happy to find their spot and drill shots now then. They have a bunch of guys who need the ball in their hands to operate. Which creates team issues - theres only one ball.

# 1 for these playoffs the Lakers need Kobe and Bynum healthy. That will make them contenders. They also need a playoff mentality where winning is all that matters, what their unit does on the floor is all that matters, and each guy's own scoring is no more important than his floor spacing and ball movement and picks and offensive rebounds.

When this team moves the ball and takes good shots they are tough to beat.

Tom D.

With all these injuries going on it would be a miracle if the Lakers repeat, but I'm pulling for them.

I predicted the Lakers in 7 1st round, and it's not a firm prediction. Many of you say Lakers in 5.

We'll see...

It's playoff time and I'm concerned.

Last year around this time I was feeling mighty confident about the Lakers and for good reason. They had great chemistry and knew how to flip the switch and go into another gear.

This year, it seems the chemistry is lacking. Nagging injuries aside, this Laker team has shown flashes of its potential, but not enough for me to feel very comfortable about.

The addition of Ron Artest hasn't meant what I had hoped it would mean for the Lakers. At this point, there's no doubt that Trevor Ariza was a better fit for this team. People will point to Artest's defensive prowess, where he is very good. My concern though with Ron Artest lies at the offensive end. When he gets the ball, it stagnates. The triangle relies on ball movement and Artest is there holding on to the ball too long.

The signing of Artest somewhat reminds me of when we got Gary Payton and Karl Malone. Artest is supposed to make us unbeatable, just like Payton and Malone were supposed to do. When we had Payton and Malone, we stumbled through the regular season, just like we did this year. We did make it to the finals with Payton and Malone, but the basketball gods wouldn't allow us to win it when Malone got injured.

Artest came to the Lakers for the same reasons that Payton and Malone did; to win a championship. Payton and Malone were going to ride Shaq and Kobe's coattails to a ring, Artest wants to ride Kobe and Pau's coattails to a ring. On paper, both of the 2004 and this years teams look unbeatable. But both teams, in my opinion, were/are lacking something.

Let's just hope the basketball gods are on our side.

Go Lakers!

Although the Lakers have injuries, you learn to play throught them, which is something this team has not coped with. Ask the blazers or cavs for that matter. The alarming thing I noticed in yesterday's game against the Clips was how many three pointers the Lakers allowed, which means no defense. And what is up with all those outside shots, especially the 26 to 27 footers. This team appears to be successful when take in the paint. Most of their long distance shots look horrible. Remember outside shooting is the lowest percentage shot, especially over 20 feet. You can't acheive much with this, unless your Ray Allen. What ever happened to their running game? If this team couldn't beat the dog meat Clippers, how do you expect them to beat a hot Thunder team? Someone needs to give the whole Lakers team a good swift kick in the pants. The coaching staff to shake up this team and order them to play defense. There is no excuse for their recent poor play in the last couple of weeks regardless of the injuries that have occured most recently. Out all the Laker teams defending their title, I have ever seen such a lazy attitude heading toward the playoffs. This, in my opinion, has to be the worst #1 seeded team I have ever seen. Memo to Mitch, spend some money on finding a decent consistent defensive stopper, players who can actually shoot the ball and quicker point guard. Take a risk man!!!!

So if I am understanding things correctly, it's now too late to assign someone, HELL, ANYONE, (and just who would that ANYONE be anyway) to the playoff roster even with all our injuries????

Not having a 14er may hurt us (no pun intended since I'm in the Rockies). I hope I'm wrong.

Colorado loves our World Champion Lakers!

Laker's have no answer to Thunder fast running offense and shooting. Westbrook will run circles around Fisher and out shoot him 4 to 1. Bynum will be his usual self and not make a difference. With Clippers easily manhandling the Lakers for an easy win the future is not good. Time has run out for the lakers.

Facial expression of PJ and Hamblen, OMG what do we have here? This injury is right in our face.

Some good posts today (Ross, segeboy (Tariq?), Tom Daniels, Rocky) and some funny stuff (Edwin). I'm hoping that come June, we won't be too concerned about the mistakes made going into this season and the injuries during the season, as we will be celebrating another championship. If not, I think Rocky makes some great points regarding this team and similarities to the player personnel decisions.

Lots of coulda, shoulda, wouldas to talk about, but right now 16 wins is the only thing that matters. This team needs a boost from the fans and I hope its there in game 1.


Are you on drugs?



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