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Former Lakers athletic coordinator Alex McKechnie hired by Toronto Raptors

Alex McKechnie, who didn't have his contract renewed by the Lakers after spending eight years with the team as the athletic performance coordinator, was hired by the Toronto Raptors Thursday.

The Raptors said in a news release that McKechnie will be the team's director of sport science.

He will oversee all athletic training, rehabilitation and strength and conditioning.

McKechnie, who was first brought on board by the Lakers when Shaquille O'Neal had abdominal problems, is regarded as a leader in core training and movement integration.

-- Broderick Turner

NBA to release schedule; A look at the Lakers' schedule

Even though the NBA has locked out its players, that hasn't stopped the league from preparing to release its schedule Tuesday for the 2011-12 season.

In many ways, it's  the NBA doing business as usual.

It's being done just in case a collective bargaining agreement is reached between  owners and players and the season starts on time.

The lockout started July 1, and since then there have been no negotiations between the owners and the players, few believe the NBA will start on time this season.

Nonetheless, the Lakers and their fans will have something to look over when NBA TV broadcasts a scheduled show at 11 a.m. Pacific time Tuesday.

Under this schedule, the Lakers would open the season at Staples Center on Nov. 1 against Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and the young and athletic Oklahoma City Thunder, said league sources not authorized to speak on the subject.

Here are some other dates to chew on:

The Lakers play Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, Chris Bosh and the Heat in Miami on Dec. 8 and will face them again at home March 4.

And the Lakers will face the NBA champion Dallas Mavericks and Dirk Nowitzki, who swept Los Angeles out of the playoffs in the Western Conference semifinals, on the road Dec. 15 and at home Jan. 16 and April 15.

LA. will play the Chicago Bulls and league most valuable player Derrick Rose on Christmas Day at Staples.

The Lakers will play at Boston on Feb. 9 and host the Celtics on March 11.

 -- Broderick Turner 


Lakers offer of Lamar Odom for No. 2 pick in NBA draft rejected by Timberwolves

LamarODOM The Lakers tried to move up in Thursday's NBA draft by offering forward Lamar Odom to Minnesota for the Timberwolves' No. 2 overall pick, but Minnesota turned them down, according to two NBA officials who were not authorized to speak publicly about the trade talks.

The Lakers wanted to use the No. 2 pick to select Arizona's forward Derrick Williams, the officials said.

However, Minnesota didn't want Odom, the NBA's sixth man of the year last season, because the Timberwolves have Kevin Love at power forward and see him as part of the franchise's cornerstone.

Instead, Minnesota asked the Lakers for either Andrew Bynum or Pau Gasol -- two players the Lakers were not going to trade -- for the No. 2 draft pick. Talks broke down and the teams aren't talking anymore about a deal, the officials said.

The Lakers don't have a first-round pick in Thursday's NBA draft; their second-round draft picks are Nos. 41, 46, 56 and 58.


Minnesota Timberwolves want Andrew Bynum

Should the Lakers trade Pau Gasol to Minnesota?

 -- Broderick Turner

Photo: Lamar Odom in Game 2 of the Lakers first-round playoff series last month against Dallas. Credit: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times

Lakers assistant Frank Hamblen interested in Indiana Pacers job

Frank  Hamblen, one of Phil Jackson's top assistant coaches with the Lakers and Chicago Bulls, has been mentioned as a possible candidate to be an assistant coach with the Indiana Pacers, according to NBA officials.

Frank Vogel, who took over the Pacers job during the regular season and is the leading candidate to become the full-time coach, has been told by management that he has to change his staff and hire three new assistant coaches, according to the Indianapolis Star.

Hamblen would be interested in a job with the Pacers, according to an NBA official.

Hamblen and the rest of the Lakers' staff are not expected to be a part of new Lakers Coach Mike Brown's staff.

Hamblen was the longest-tenured assistant coach in the NBA. He spent the last 12 years with the Lakers and was a part of all five NBA champions.

Hamblen is from Terre Haute, Ind.


-- Broderick Turner

Lakers' Andrew Bynum has 'sore' knee after feeling a 'twinge' during game

Lakers center Andrew Bynum played his best game since he returned from a right knee injury that kept him out of the first 24 regular-season games, but he did have a scary moment that left his knee "sore" after he felt a "twinge" in it during the game against the Toronto Raptors on Sunday.

Bynum finished with 16 points on four-for-six shooting, eight-for-10 from the free-throw line.

He also had seven rebounds.

But after Bynum missed a left-handed hook, got the rebound and scored on a put-back with 5:27 left in a game the Lakers won, 120-110, he felt pain in the right knee he had surgery on last summer.

"Actually, my knee is a little bit sore today," Bynum said. "I kind of felt a little bit of a twinge when I double jumped when I missed the layup and I went back up with the rebound. But it will be all right. There is no swelling. I'll just ice it all the way home and it should be good."

The Lakers left Toronto after the game and were flying back to Los Angeles, expecting to land sometime Sunday night.

Bynum, who had successful arthroscopic surgery for a torn cartilage in his right knee, said he wasn't nervous about the pain in his knee.

"I have to live with it," Bynum said. "It's not going to change. So, there's nothing to be nervous about now. You just have to expect that that's going to happen. But I can't wait to start working with my trainer when we get back home so I can get a little bit of my explosion back. I feel like I can't really jump right now...As of right now, I feel like I'm kind of glued to the floor."

 -- Broderick Turner, reporting from Toronto

Kobe Bryant to play despite injured finger; Joe Smith gets in a practice

Kobe Bryant, who suffered a sprained right pinkie finger Friday night against the Philadelphia 76ers, said he will play Sunday against the Toronto Raptors despite the injury.

Bryant was injured in the first quarter of the game against the 76ers, but he continued to play.

Bryant told the media after practice Saturday that he was not going to "miss a game for a pinkie."

New Laker Joe Smith as able to get in his first practice Saturday.

Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said he might even play Smith Sunday against the Raptors.

-- Broderick Turner in Toronto



Kobe Bryant suffers sprained right pinkie finger

Kobe Bryant suffered a sprained right pinkie finger Friday night against the Philadelphia 76ers.

X-rays on the finger, taken after the Lakers' 93-81 victory, were negative.

Bryant was injured in the first quarter. He had trainer Gary Vitti tape the finger so he could continue to play.

"It was tough to hold the basketball, so it really affected it," Bryant said.

Bryant was three for 11 from the field, finishing with a season-low nine points. He was never aggressive, and said it was becasue of his painful finger.

"It was numb for about 20 minutes," Bryant said.

Bryant was asked how he injured his finger.

"Pau [Gasol] threw a bad pass," Bryant said, smiling.

Bryant  had problems with the right hand last season as well. He played most of the season with an avulsion fracture of his right index finger. But Bryant elected not to have surgery on the finger last summer, saying it would have taken too long to recover.

There were games last season in which Bryant was hit on the finger, and it left him in pain.

 -- Broderick Turner, reporting from Philadelphia


Lakers visit with President Obama, spend time with local Boys and Girls Club


Kobe Bryant has spent time with President Obama several times over the last year. Bryant was even a part of a contingent of NBA players who played a pick-up basketball game with the president last summer.

Still, when the Lakers visited with Obama at a local Boys and Girls Club in the Washington area Monday -- part of a ceremony for winning back-to-back championships -- Bryant still was in awe.

Bryant talked about how "extremely competitive" Obama is. Every one knows how competitive Bryant is, so that's something the two have in common.

"The cool thing about going to the White House is to be able to talk with people that work with him and have been around him and they talk about his resiliency and always having a positive attitude no matter what," Bryant said. "[He says], 'You are going to have setbacks, but we're still going to get to where we need to go. Even though we're going through this, ultimately we'll get there.'  I think that's  one of the characteristics that I admire the most about him."

Last year, the Lakers visited the White House after they won the championship. This time, the Lakers visited a Boys and Girls Club along with President Obama in the area as part of NBA Cares.

About 20 kids got to sit with the Lakers, who helped them write letters and put care packages together for wounded servicemen and women at Walter Reed Hospital.

Obama joked that Bryant and Derek Fisher, who have won five NBA titles with the Lakers, have been to the White House so many times after winning a championship that "they give tours themselves. And the same for Coach [Phil] Jackson," who has won 11 NBA titles as a coach.

"On the court, not too many people can do what the Los Angeles Lakers can do," Obama said.

Obama congratulated Jackson on winning his 11th NBA championship, and fifth with the Lakers.

Obama then added that "I should point out that it's still one behind the six [championships] he won the with Chicago Bulls."

Obama is a Chicago sports fan.

"Kobe said not for long," Obama said, laughing.

Obama said it has been a "long drought" since the Bulls last won an NBA championship in 1998, but he did say "as you witnessed on Friday, that my Bulls are showing some signs of life."

The Bulls defeated the Lakers in Chicago Friday night.

"I just want to congratulate all the Lakers for being one of the outstanding sports franchises in our country in our history," Obama said.

Jackson said he had some words for Obama when they met before the ceremony.

"I congratulated him on his latest compromise," Jackson said. "I told him that he's a left-hander and he should know that you have to go right to shoot. But he hit a three-pointer this time."

Jackson was referring to the tax cuts Obama has proposed.

Photo gallery: Lakers visit President Obama.

-- Broderick Turner in Washington

Photo: President Obama with the Lakers. Credit: Evan Vucci, Associated Press.


Lakers unsure when Andrew Bynum will return

Bynum_300 Andrew Bynum's return remains in a state of flux, seemingly changing by the day as he rehabilitates the right knee he had surgery on over the summer.

Last week, before the Lakers began their six-game East Coast trip, Bynum and the team said the 7-foot center would play Tuesday night in Washington, D.C. against the Wizards.

Lakers Coach Phil Jackson was asked before Sunday's game against the New Jersey Nets if Bynum still would return Tuesday.

"We're not putting anything on it until after we get through a practice Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Sunday," Jackson said. "One of those games he's going to make it."

The Tuesday game is at the Washington Wizards, Wednesday's game is at the Indiana Pacers, Friday's game is at the Philadelphia 76ers and Sunday's game that finishes the trip is at the Toronto Raptors.

There was a time when Bynum had said he would probably return Dec. 19 at Toronto.

But after a couple of  five-on-five practices, Bynum and the Lakers had moved that time up, hoping he would play Tuesday.

The plan was for Bynum to practice Saturday in New York, but it was cancelled because Lakers spent almost two hours on their bus getting from the airport in New Jersey to their hotel in New York.

The next practice is scheduled for Monday in D.C.

But that's part of meeting with President Obama at a Boys and Girls Club in the area.

It could mean that the Lakers won't get the type of practice in they need for Bynum.

"We've got to get a practice in," Bynum said. "We haven't really been able to do that. Hopefully we'll practice (Monday)."

-- Broderick Turner, reporting from East Rutherford, N.J.

Photo: Lakers center Andrew Bynum tries to block a shot by Celtics power forward Kevin Garnett in the NBA Finals last spring. Credit: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times

Lakers vs Sacramento: Lakers stop losing streak in beat-down of Kings


Lakers 113, Kings 80 (final)

The Lakers snapped their four-game losing streak with an easy victory over Sacramento on Friday night at Staples Center.

Then again, the Lakers were playing one of the worst teams in the NBA.

Sacramento dropped to 4-13 and has lost six in a row.

Pau Gasol, despite a strained left hamstring, had 16 points on six-for-eight shooting. He played just 27 minutes, none in the fourth quarter. He also finished with five assists and five rebounds.

Kobe Bryant had 22 points on nine-for-18 shooting, and he also sat out the fourth quarter, as did all the Lakers' starters.

The Lakers have three days off before they play again at home Tuesday night against the Washington Wizards.

Lakers rookie Derrick Caracter scored a career-high 10 points.


Lakers 82, Kings 52 (end of third quarter)

The Lakers, shooting 54.1% from the field, opened a 31-point lead at one point in the third.

It looked as if the Kings had quit during this time, hardly ever running any kind of offense.

By the end of the third, Kobe Bryant had scored 22 points on nine-for-18 shooting. He sat down with 2:55 left in the quarter.

Pau Gasol had scored 16 points on six-for-eight shooting, and he had five rebounds and five assists.



Lakers 52, Kings 35 (end of first half)

With Kobe Bryant scoring 16 points in the first half and Lamar Odom adding nine points and six rebounds, the Lakers opened a 17-point lead.

The Lakers shot 48.8% from the field in the first half and held  the Kings to 33.3% shooting.

Kings guard Tyreke Evans was three for eight from the field.

Lakers 21, Kings 16 (end of first quarter)

Pau Gasol was able to start Friday night despite a strained left hamstring.

He played the first nine minutes before he was replaced by rookie power forward Derrick Caracter.

Gasol had two points, zero rebounds and one assist in the first quarter.

Kobe Bryant and Lamar Odom both had six points to lead the Lakers in the first quarter.


At 6:33 p.m. Friday, Pau Gasol walked into the Lakers'  locker room, more than half an hour late for the 6 p.m. report time for players, still not certain if he was going to play against the Kings.

Gasol has been dealing with a sore left hamstring that the Lakers listed as strained.

The Lakers said he would be a game-time decision.

Gasol didn't offer any more clarity when he was approached before the game.

"I have no idea yet," Gasol said about playing. "I'm going to flip a coin."

Gasol smile and walked into the players' lounge.

As soon as Gasol entered the locker room, he stopped in Lakers Coach Phil Jackson's office for a talk.

Gasol had participated in the shootaroud earlier in the day and Jackson said then that he was hopeful that his center would play.

Either way, if Gasol does play or doesn't, rookie power forward Derrick Caracter probably will get some time.

At 6-9, Jackson said Caracter is an undersized power forward.

"The team in general has to support his presence on the floor," Jackson said. "We have to help out. He's not even a center. He's a power forward, a small power forward at that."

The Lakers probably will use Lamar Odom as the backup center at times during the game against the Kings at Staples Center.

-- Broderick Turner

Photo: Lakers guard Kobe Bryant attempts a layup against Sacramento's Donte Green, left, and Samuel Dalembert in the second quarter Friday night at Staples Center. Credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times



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