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Reserves show experience, and Lakers' mind-set will significantly bolster team this season

In a ring ceremony Tuesday night that featured plenty about the Lakers' closeness forged last season, the most revealing part came after the celebration with a unit that looked much different than any on last season's championship squad.

Newly acquired backup point guard Steve Blake talked frequently with Kobe Bryant during the waning moments about a play where Bryant would run a pick-and-roll with Pau Gasol, draw a double team and then find Blake open on the perimeter. The play resulted in the winning shot in the Lakers' 112-110 victory and immediate hugs.

Newly acquired backup small forward Matt Barnes remained relentless on the floor and drew smiles from Bryant after a fourth-quarter rebound that led to a putback.

Guard Shannon Brown played for last season's team, but he already looked like a different player with his 14 fourth-quarter points and three steals prompting Bryant to hug him at midcourt. Brown showed how his off-season work helped further develop his shot.

Though Theo Ratliff played a marginal role, his 17 minutes at least partly relieved Jackson's anxieties, considering both Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom got into foul trouble with five apiece. Seeing the relentlessness in Ratliff, 37, gave a model for Odom to follow, considering he wants to push through as much time on the court this season as possible.

On a night when last season's championship team was honored, it was a newcomer in Blake who delivered the victory and provided the template for the rest of the bench to follow. And the reason why the chemistry worked through training camp points to the same feelings the ring ceremony reinforced among the Lakers.

"We're all pretty close," Blake said. "Even in the short time we've been here. We're all happy for each other when we have success."

Knowing it's an 82-game season and that nothing definitive comes out of one game, Jackson on Wednesday limited the praise for the bench to this: "They bailed us out last night. Shannon and Steve bailed us out last night. But we're going to need more than just those two."

Jackson surely is correct, considering that the Lakers expect Andrew Bynum to continue rehab on his surgically repaired right knee until at least Thanksgiving; Bryant's right knee continues to make progress; Gasol and Odom each picked up five fouls; and Ron Artest and Derek Fisher combined for four-for-22 shooting and sat out the fourth quarter.

Most of the commentary surrounding the Lakers' bench last season, however, pointed to the team's tendency to blow large leads, rather than secure them or even fight from behind. Jackson ticked off the Lakers' four departures in D.J. Mbenga, Josh Powell, Adam Morrison and Jordan Farmar by name during the ring ceremony. But Jackson's proclamation that "we recognize them tonight as part of our team" served as nothing more than a formality.

They largely played minimal roles in the postseason, save for Farmar's clutch performance in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals against Phoenix and in Game 6 of the NBA Finals against Boston. They represented a unit known more for blowing leads than securing them, with Farmar's individual tendencies undermining the team, Mbenga's strength proving not enough to excel, Morrison's lack of speed demonstrating why he's continued struggling as a pro and Powell's positive attitude and work ethic failing to translate into consistent offensive and defensive execution. Those players, combined with  Brown nursing a sore right thumb and frequent injuries to Sasha Vujacic and Luke Walton, hardly inspired confidence in the Lakers.

That's why it's not surprising all four of those players have since left the Lakers. Farmar went to New Jersey for a bigger contract and more playing time. The other three were let go, with Mbenga signing with the New Orleans Hornets, Powell latching on with the Atlanta Hawks and Morrison temporarily joining with the Washington Wizards before they promptly dropped him.

But after training camp and one regular-season game, Bryant already has full trust in the reserves, enough to grant one of them the chance to hit a game-winner.

"I've seen him play for years now and I've seen him hit big shots before," Bryant said of Blake. "He's not scared of the moment. He doesn't shy away from the moment."

And what about how this year's bench sizes up against last season's reserves?

"We were a deep team last year as well, and this year I think we have a little better chemistry in terms of the pieces fitting better together off the bench," Bryant said.

The bench's makeup has more than just superior talent on last season's team. While the bench last season featured young players trying to make names for themselves, the Lakers' free-agent acquisitions are all in their 30s and act as eager as rookies because this has been the closest they've been to tasting a championship. It's resulted in the bench experiencing a quick learning curve and constant self-criticism. It's promoted more team play from Brown and Vujacic, whose zero minutes in the season opener, will likely become a non-issue or at least marginalized because of the bench's maturity. And it's led Fisher, who vehemently wants a starter's role, to concede responsibility and heap praise on Blake, whose fourth-quarter success coincided with Fisher's poor shooting night and defensive performance on Aaron Brooks.

"He's going to go with the guys in the game that are playing well," Fisher said of Jackson's decision to play Blake for the entire fourth quarter, while he sat on the bench. "They have rhythm out there. They're playing good defense. They're making good shots. Those are the guys that are going to stay in the game more times than not. I think as a player you appreciate that and it gives you the confidence that if you go in the game and you're doing some good things, you're going to get some minutes."

The same rarely was said of the Lakers' bench last season. So on a night the Miami Heat featured its star-studded new roster with LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade and lost to Boston, the Lakers proved why their minor tune-up in upgrading their bench yielded higher results. There may be bumps along the way this season. But more often than not, what happened in the Lakers' season opener will become the norm and not the exception.

"I hope so," Blake said when asked if the bench will prove to be the Lakers' strength. "That's our job: to come in, bring some energy, make plays and not have any let-ups when we come into the game."

-- Mark Medina
twitter.com/latmedina

E-mail the Lakers blog at mgmedin@gmail.com

 
Comments () | Archives (34)

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The Lakers never take the easy way.

Just wanted to catch up, been a busy day 'round here.


Rick, get well, find strength in the love expressed frmo your family and friends and from everyone here on the Blog who has shared in your insights. Besides, the Laker season is best enjoyed in good health!


@JAMF - Another RCOTD? You are en fuego, lady.


@mamba24 - Keep on rocking the bandwagons, as Lamar is to the Lakers, you are to the Laker Blog. The Glue Man.


@LakerTom - RE:Phil staying with the hot hands in the 4th

I was worried that we would see Fish come back in with about 4 minutes to go, but Phil stuck with what got him there. This hadn't been bandied about much, but I thought it quite an astute observation.


1 down, it's a win, 81 to go. Let's go get this.

GO LAKERS!!!!!

Jamie Sweet - I was as surprised about leaving Blake in as I was to see Caracter come in early. Seems Phil's really trying to push to see who and what lineups are really going to be effective. I kinda like it.

Unfortunately, I didn't get to see the 2nd half but, very pleased with to get win #1.

Did Blaker make Mitch look like a genius or what?!

What about Shannon...and to think some on this blog ragged him for testing the FA market and didn't want him back...numbskulls! He never had any intention of playin' anywhere else...the young man wants to be a champion...AGAIN!!!

Not concerned about DFish's struggles, especially this early in the season...he'll be there in the end when we'll need him the most...as always.
~

@Jon K: I immediately thought of you during the pre-game ring ceremony when PJ said 'This is what we play for'.

BTW, you had mentioned holding Ron Ron up as a role model for your son. Although, I never got to meet my son(his mom and I split before he was born), had I had the chance I would have certainly groomed him to be a Laker fan and held Ron Ron up as a role model as well.
~
@Mamba24: I like Mary J's version of 'You remind me' but prefer the original version by Patrice Rushen...I luv'd her back in da day...wit her cute lil' petite self.(LOL)

Also, please add me to the Shannon bandwagon.

BTW, this one's especially for you...enjoy!

Bobby Caldwell - Carry On - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Ehpe7b4fX8
~

@Zaira: Thanks for that Bjork track, I'm a fan for sure. Here's another track of her's that I like.

Bjork - Isobel(Deodato mix edit) - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0xTFTBTBY48
~

@JAMF: Thanks for the Beautiful Girls track by B.O.B....melikes:-)
~

@LRob: Glad you liked Electric Conversation. I wanted to post several other tracks from them but, they weren't available on youtube. If you get a chance you should checkout their entire CD,they've got some really nice tracks that I think you'd really enjoy.
~


Now, for today's entry for my 'across the pond series' ...enjoy!

Un-Cut - Midnight - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uqPH6odpCeo

Un-Cut - Loveless - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=81vWMDgluZo&feature=related

Un-Cut - Fallin - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_aCCRMjRXFE&feature=related

~



Let's go Ls...all the way to a 3-peat!!!!!

LRob - FYI...You can set your roster (with a different lineup each day) for the entire week....so you don't have to be bothered with it.

------

Can you help out this newbie and tell me how I can do this procedure...

Posted by: Troll Man | October 27, 2010 at 06:30 AM


Phil has finally lost it

What was he thinking leaving the hot hands in the game during the 4th quarter??????????

We all better keep a close eye on him this year.
What's next, calling timeouts, adjusting strategy in-game, calling timeouts?

Maybe he was just fell asleep, that's gotta be it.

LRob - Gah! I'm so glad I don't play Fantasy BB - it's just seems to take too much brain juice. I have such limited brain juice as is. Good luck to you GM's.
Posted by: 63 Footer | October 27, 2010 at 07:21 PM
-------------------------
63 Footer - haha...its not that hard. It takes about 30 minutes a week to put in your lineup. Other than that its just watching games/reading box scores to see if a free agent warrants being picked up to replace one of your bottom 2-3 players.

I agree 100% of Farmar. He wants to do everything of his terms.

ChickNstu - the check is in the mail :-)

Just saw where the Cs lost to the other Cs(Cavaliers)...whodathunkit.(LOL) Guess they had a letdown after beating Miami.


Let's go Ls...all the way to a 3-peat!!!!!

So Cleveland figured out how to finally beat Boston...

Get a new coach and get rid of LeBron and Shaq...

LMAO

Lakers Dynasty - The Next Generation...

#17 Coming Up!!!

In honor of the first Giant win of the series:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8GoVhTaqfvY

@ Lew - no musical selection today means...(in Soup Nazi's voice) No Help for You!

Ok I just sent you an email with an explanation.

@MM - excellent insight on Fish/Blake scenario...

And it's led Fisher, who vehemently wants a starter's role, to concede responsibility and heap praise on Blake, whose fourth-quarter success coincided with Fisher's poor shooting night and defensive performance on Aaron Brooks.

"He's going to go with the guys in the game that are playing well," Fisher said of Jackson's decision to play Blake for the entire fourth quarter, while he sat on the bench. "They have rhythm out there. They're playing good defense. They're making good shots. Those are the guys that are going to stay in the game more times than not. I think as a player you appreciate that and it gives you the confidence that if you go in the game and you're doing some good things, you're going to get some minutes."

What a busy day for me....

I'd like to justa say that I loved the BLAKE-SHANNON-BARNES-GASOL-LAMAR unit.

zzzzzzzzzzz.....see you guys tomorrow...zzzzzzzzzzz

LRob - Got your email...Thanks, but I figured it out...Didn't notice the date tabs above roster...

But I think the fun is, playing around with your roster every morning, ...But good to know, you can always set earlier, if schedule your is busy that week...

@ GDUB - Best thing going for Un-Cut is the lead singer. me like, especially on Loveless. However, there music was just meh! I think I will grab that Electric Conversation cd.

@63 Footer - its to late in eve to be messing with my mind with that seven-eleven...lol.

Things that made me say hmmm tonite:

Rambis only playing Kevin Love 24 minutes. I can see Love bolting after his rookie contract if coach is playing him to the left.

OKC shooting 47 fts to Chi 22. Didn't see much of the game so I can't say it was poorly officiated.

Yao sitting of the 2nd night of back to back.

LRob - I obviously had a MUCH better song if the score had been 9 to 6....

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PczW76rpTbM&feature=related

Fisher washed up. Thank god they pickerd up Blake and Jackson has finally given up with Fisher down the stretch. No O..No D !!!!

@63 Footer - Duh...too much bball for me, I just realized the final score was 11-7 after I posted that. Yes, Hendrix much better. My brain doesn't have to go into overdrive to process it.

But just think if they had to call the call at zero-zero we could've broke out Billy Preston. But since the final was 7-11 we'll have to settle for these Big Apple punkers that was ahead of there (2002 HOF)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f6_dRQ4uqPE

LRob - Duh! Such a great Ramones song, and I totally forgot about it. And yet more neurons have died.

Since we're not playing soccer:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G_DV54ddNHE

At his full-fro'd & bearded funkiest.

Celtics lose to the Lebron-less Cavaliers. The Clippers lose. Only thing that was missing was a Laker victory.

KB Blitz


good point. the universe is back in ORDER.

the over-hyped Blake Griff-in started like a Bouncing Bull. and he became just a bouncing bully.

how bout a bet: will he be injured again in less games than ODEN or a few more. isn't that part of the Clippers tradition.

and now a few lines from the Clippers Homers Announcer: Ralph Lewer (or whatever)

the best rookie debut was Lamar Odom with 30 points and 12 rebounds

BUT, but, BUT,

Griff-in 20 and 14 reb was much better. IT WAS ALL SUBSTANCE.

there is only one BLAKE. and he has it as LAST NAME. and plays in the BIG locker room not in the SCRUBS locker room.

and let's not forget about the famous Kamann who was 4-14 and blocked many times by my man Marcus.

and the over-rated E.D. yes that is Eric Gordon the world champion who still does not know how to pass back on fast break. and gets blocked on a layup when the big guy is free on the other side. no surprise when Nate Mc millan and Duh'toni r the assistant coaches of the US team and the real stars r missing.

enough bout the clippers. i feel like i'm getting a rash just typing their name.

funny how Stern, the NBA r looking for the next star. a few years ago it was Brandon Roy. i'm not taking away anything from his game but:

he is aloof. not surprised no one wants him for a commercial but tonight i heard him for the first time

if Avery Johnson has the worst scratchy voice as a coach,

brandon Roy is like listening to Voice of America in a communist country when they try to block the station and you r trying to adjust your knob to listen to the station even if it is distorted. ( i know most of u never had that experience). it was great to get some real political news, but not for a post game interview. ohhh, just another pretty, good, decent guy. un-PROMOTABLE like Tim Duncan.

Things that made me say hmmm tonite:

Posted by: LRob | October 27, 2010 at 09:53 PM

obviously Yao is not in shape to play B2b.

but OKC had Durant, westbrook and sefelosha penetrating and going to the line

while Derick "the choker who improved his shot this summer" Rose had 12-30 in 30 minutes. many penetrations blocked by sefelosha -4, Ibaka-4?

wondering what Kobe haters will say for a similar stat. but ROSE does not smell.

and Koever forgot that he is a spot up shooter and decided to make ISO plays for himself. failed. happy that Thibodeau had a bad debut

same with Vinny the Blake face Guy. el Negro.

Wow, I just saw this headline: "Miami Police Plan Pension Protest at Heat Opener."

Dang, not enough spotlight down there? Sheesh. I guess the Super-Friends could explain how "We took pay cuts! What else do you want?" And then Lebron could come out and do a river dance for them, throw chalk in the air, and ask them "What should I do?"

You can't make this stuff up.

Wow, I just saw this headline: "Miami Police Plan Pension Protest at Heat Opener."

Dang, not enough spotlight down there? Sheesh. I guess the Super-Friends could explain how "We took pay cuts! What else do you want?" And then Lebron could come out and do a river dance for them, throw chalk in the air, and ask them "What should I do?"

You can't make this stuff up.

Posted by: 63 Footer | October 27, 2010 at 11:01 PM

---------

Deserving of the RCOTD!!! LMAO!!!

63 Footer

good point. LBJ: Rome was not built in a day. i'm wondering if he can point Rome on the Map.

63 Footer

let's not forget that during the cold weather, the miami Heat crowd is a new York crowd. and they r not happy that he did not sign with the Knicks. ohhhhhhhhh, where is the AFTER-shock. coming like a hurricane near u.

the tsunami will hit (not Heat) the Miami Coast.

the Activator - now if he had said "Rome wasn't burnt in a day," I would have had some respect for him.

63 Footer

at least Nero had some style, during the FIRE-works. he was writing poetry.

does anyone (except BSPN and Stern) thinks that LeNone has style?

What should he DO?

63 Footer

talking about the style: in his last Nike commercial there is the pinkish doughnut, and later on there the image with the Miami Vice guy (don't watch too much TV, can't remember his name) where LBJ is in the background with a pink suit. the close up is pointed to his PINK hanky to match the suit. alsmost like re-iterating the " Queen James.

that is pretty CAMP-ish if we have the deconstruct the imagery. but, isn't he the MAN, that bullies into the defense????????

PRETTY IN PINK

*_________________________________________________________________________*
RICK FRIEDMAN THE LAKERS NATIONS PRAYERS & WISHES ARE WITH YOU - BAND WAGON
*_________________________________________________________________________*
RE: RICK FRIEDMAN
I have the unfortunate and unpleasant task of informing Laker Nation that our beloved friend and family member, Rick Friedman, is seriously ill and has been in the hospital for the past week and a half, and will be residing there for awhile longer. He is having difficulty getting to the blog from his Blackberry, and so that's another reason why we haven't seen him around lately. He is currently receiving the world's best medical attention, and has a wonderful support system in place with family and friends. I spoke with him today and he is extremely upbeat and sounds good. (He watched the game last night and that helped LOL!) He can't handle a lot of emails and phone calls now, but I told him I'd keep in touch and convey any and all well-wishes from his second family here. Please post your thoughts, if you so desire, and I'll make sure he hears about it. God bless you Rick. Get well soon. Laker Nation needs your insight, intelligence, humor and enthusiasm. Much love, my very dear BFF.
*_________________________________________________________________________*
(01) JUSTANTHERMAMBAFAN – OWNER - . God bless you Rick. Get well soon. Laker Nation needs your insight, intelligence, humor and enthusiasm. Much love, my very dear BFF.
*_________________________________________________________________________*
02) MARK MEDINA – BLOG GOD - Rick - I am sorry and saddened to hear the news regarding your illness. I think I can speak on behalf of everyone here at the blog that we certainly miss your presence here, but more importantly, wish you a speedy and healthy recovery. Mark Medina
(03) utzworld THE BANNER HOLDER – CHAPLAIN – LET US PRAY Dear Lord, we seek You on behalf of our fellow Lakers Blog Patriarch Rick Friedman. We ask You Lord to usher him into full recovery. We ask You to take every broken place in his body and mend it. We ask You to clear out every toxin in his bloodstream and make it pure. We ask you to reveal Yourself as HEALER in Rick's life. Use the doctors to correctly diagnose the issues and to fix them. May he feel the love and encouragement from his Lakers Blog family radiating through his system. May he receive the love, comfort and encouragement from his immediate family above all else. I thank You personally for allowing me to meet him face to face. Thank You for his humility. Thank You for his spirit. You have truly made Rick Friedman THE MAN. And we boldly ask You to bring him back to us. Safe and sound and ready to unite with us as we pray and encourage our Lakers into that mighty 3-Peat. We thank You for answered prayer. Most of all, we thank You for Rick being part of our lives. AMEN!
(04) LROB – CO/DRIVER - Justa - please pass along my get well wishes and prayers to Rick Friedman. Thanks for sharing that info.
(05) CALIPHILOSOPHER – DRIVER -Put me on the "Get Well Rick Friedman Soon" bandwagon. I would be very appreciative, and would like to show my support (however I can) to one of the blog's finest.
(06) #4
(07) EDWIN GUECO – RIDING SHOTGUN - Rick F, we'll be praying for your immediate recovery. Hang on there
(08) CAP’S GOOGLES - Rick Friedman: you have my prayers my blog brother. You, Mamba, and Edwin were the first ones to welcome me to the blog and I send good juju, karma, energy or anything I got to your well being. Get well!
(09) BRONXLAKERFAN - Get well soon, Rick Friedman!!
(10) LAKERMIKE - RICK FRIEDMAN ...On behalf of your extended family here at the LakerBlog, we pray that you will experience rest and healing in the days ahead. Your contributions here have endeared you to our hearts. Get well soon. Mike
(11) 63 FOOTER - justanothermambafan - please send my good thoughts and best wishes to Rick. Get better and come back soon!
(12) ZAIRA – BLOG GODDESS - I was meant to start by congratulate multiple RCOTD winners Justa sweetie and LRob, but the Rick's news Justa brought made me change it all. Please Justa send him my greatest well-wishing and open care. I was wondering what did happen to him yesterday in chat and somehow I was feeling the only thing that could have prevented him from HERE and us could have been of a healthy kind. Mr. Rick Friedman is dear to my heart; he has been the very first person try to reach for me out of the blog and he's one of the most smart and passionate persons I have ever come across. nd I don't just mean in the online people category. We all want him well and back soon. I will think of him daily until everything is fine again. Wow. It feels strange to get back talkin happy bball... but this is why we're here for. I loved to read all of your comments and agreed with many; to me, as it was clear from the chat, the game was way beyond my (mild) expectations already when we were even losing, because I could clearly see the seeds of dominance displayed in the way our players were confident with one another
(13) LAKERTOM - JUSTA... Thanks for the sad news about our good blog friend Rick. He will definitely be in our prayers every day until he gets well. Thank God he was able to watch the game. The healing powers of the Lakers and the Lakers Blog can only help Rick. Mamba, please put me at top of the Get Well Rick Bandwagon. Rick is one of our longtime original bloggers who deserves unanimous love and support from all of us. Get well, Rick. You are everything that is great about this blog. God bless you and your family.
(14) IHEARTKB24 - Rick Friedman - I'm sending you healing thoughts...Get well soon!!!
(15) LAKERLASS – Get well soon Rick!
(16) D(EREK) J(ETER) - To Rick, Get well soon my friend, we all need you healthy for yourself, your family and LakerUniverse! Our prayers are sent for you!
(17) KOBEMVP888 - I echo brother Edwin's sentiments. So saddened to here this. This is very sad news. I will pray for him and may he have a speedy recovery.
(18) LAKESHOWINPHX - Get Well Rick! the Lakers bretheren is wishing you a speedy recovery! Lakeshowinphx
(19) JOLLY RANCHER - Rick F - Do what Nurse Ratchet says and get back here soon. This season is going to be too fun to miss. (hospitals never have the right channels).
(20) ART-FL LAKERS FAN - Rick F, Your posts on the blog are intelligent and well reasoned. I look forward to reading more of your thoughts when you are able. Best wishes.
(21) PATRICKHENREYPRESS - Get well soon, Rick!
(22) NEWMEXICOLL - Rick Friedman... Prayers go out to you and your family.
(23) MAMBA24 – Get well soon Rik. The Blog needs all the Class it can get sir. You have The Lakers Blog and The Lakers Nations prayers.
(24) JEFE101 - Very sorry to hear that Rick is not well - best wishes for a speedy recovery
(25) BENJAMIN - Please add me to the Rick Friedman bandwagon. I'm actually family so I've gotten in touch with him a bit and he's one of our most enjoyable family members (and not just by being here on the Lakers blog). In good news, there's a possibility he's out of the hospital in a few days
(26) PSYCHEDLAKERGIRL - RICK F!!! Prayers out friend. We can't wait to have your wisdom, wit and best in class words back on the blog. But in the meantime, your extended LAT blog fam has your back. Feel the spirit - we are with you! PLG
(27) HTJ - Please add me to the Rick bandwagon. Get well soon Rick! The Friedman award ain't the same without you.
(28) TOM DANIELS - RICK FRIEDMAN, I always love your posts, and your creative blog handle, so my selfish wish is for your health. But more importantly, I wish you health for you and your family and your real life out there. We are all behind you here.
(29) ALLNET - Rick Friedman, may you get well soon. And a reminder to us all: there ARE some things more important than basketball (this being one of them).
(30) 2PHATT - Sign me up for Rick bandwagon" A True SUPERSTAR" get well soon.
(31) LAKERJ - A thought, a prayer and the best of wishes to Rick Friedman.
(32) PHRED - Wow. Not good to hear about Rick Friedman. Thanks though, justa, for letting us know. I hope we can keep up on his condition, and I hope way more that he will make a full recovery. Not sure what I can do, but whatever I can, I will. Put me on the ‘Get well, and get posting more RCOTDs soon, Rick’ bandwagon post haste. THE LOVE and the love of all of us are both here by your side, Rick. Although we really do look for and appreciate the comments by the people we know on the blog, we really don’t know anything about them. We don’t know them personally, we don’t know their families, and if something happened to them and they stopped posting comments here, we might never hear from them again. Tonight, I’m just thankful that at least some of us know a little bit about one of us. I’m thankful that justanothermambafan has heard something about Rick Friedman, and that she has been able to share with us at least some idea of what has happened to our friend. And at least tonight, I have no doubt that we feel nothing but love for Rick and we are glad that we know him. I hope that this can reach him, and while I am scared for Rick, I really am feeling the love for everybody here on the blog.
(33) JAMIE SWEET - Rick, get well, find strength in the love expressed frmo your family and friends and from everyone here on the Blog who has shared in your insights. Besides, the Laker season is best enjoyed in good health!
(34) MCLYNE – I couldn't have said a better prayer for Rick. So, I'll just say AMEN as well.
(35) NBA4EVER - The great blogger Rick please get well soon! GO LAKERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
(36) CHICNSTU - Please add me also.. Rick you are missed here at the blog. Get well soon Sir.
(37) LEWSTRS - Rick Friedman -I'm sorry to hear the new of your illness...Please know that your are in our thoughts and prayers...Get well soon and come back...otherwise we will have to call the RCOTD award...the 'justanothermambafan award'...
(38) FAN OF THE MAMBA - Rick my prayers are with you, be strong my brother.
(39) LAKERSUNSHINE - Rick, get well soon. I love to read your posts, and look forward to reading many more
(40) PURPLE HEART - please add me to the RF recovery bandwagon. Rick, may God's healing hand touch you and restore your body to tremendous health. Keep the faith!!

The Lakers have a VASTLY IMPROVED BENCH compared to last year.

Think about it:

Guards:

1. Shannon Brown - much improved skills, can shoot the three-pointer, extremely athletic.

2. Steve Black - absolutely top-flight point guard skills and talent, clutch and one of the best 3-point shooters, excellent defense, long.

Small Forward:

3. Matt Barnes - excellent and aggressive defender, aggressive on offense.

Power Forward:

4. Lamar Odom - enough said.

Center:

5. Theo Ratliff - veteran, knows how to play the game, great shot-blocker, can defend - is better than any other recent center in memory.

The bench has STARTER-QUALITY, RELIABLE, VETERAN players.


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