From Janis Carr, OC Register: Lakers coach Phil Jackson said before Friday’s game that if a player is scoring as many points as shots attempted then that player is taking too many shots. He didn’t name names. He didn’t have to. During the Lakers’ four-game losing streak, Kobe Bryant and Ron Artest have not been efficient shooters. n those games, Bryant took 103 shots, making just 43 field goals. His best outing was in the Lakers’ loss to Utah when he was 10 of 21 and finished with 31 points. During that same span, Artest’s shot selection drew Jackson’s ire at times as he went 11 for 28. Derek Fisher fits into that misfiring category as well, missing 19 of 28 shots.
From Mark Heisler, LA Times: What dream season was that again? Amid the gnashing of teeth/jubilation at Miami’s woes, the NBA’s most eagerly-awaited season ever is wandering off script. Take the ballyhooed Christmas Heat-Lakers game, with tickets offered online for as much as $27,000. . . . If they played today, it would be the No. 4 team in the East vs. the No. 4 team in the West. So much for the Finals Preview angle. Fortunately for the NBA, as the Heat season turns into Animal House on Steroids, the league doesn’t need Miami in the Finals.
From Karen Krouse, NYTimes: Taking charges or giving bruises comes naturally to Lakers guard Derek Fisher. Yet the physical contact he made with the Sacramento Kings’ Francisco Garcia on the court Friday night went against his every competitive impulse. It came during warm-ups before the second half of the Lakers’ 113-80 victory and took the form of a handshake, preceded by an exchange of small talk with Garcia, a sixth-year reserve. Earlier, at the Lakers’ practice center in El Segundo, Fisher, the president of the N.B.A. players union, said: “It’s been something new to have to open myself to guys on opposing teams. I’m looking to kind of beat you up and beat your team, so I’m not necessarily interested in making sure you have my phone number and e-mail address when I see you at the game.
From Wondahbap, Silver Screen and Roll: Following such a crappy week of Lakers play, I was tempted to not even name a Player of the Week. It’s hard to pick someone who stood out when the Lakers went 1-3, with the lone win coming against the pathetic Sacramento Kings. A team so bad, they have now lost 12 out of their last 13 games. This Lakers squad is supremely talented, deep and experienced. Every team experiences ups and downs throughout the course of an 82-game season, but I’m hard pressed to find any excuse why they should ever lose four (three this week, and one against Utah last Friday) games in a row. Never mind to the likes of Indiana, Memphis and Houston. No disrespect to those teams, but they aren’t exactly Murderer’s Row.
From Dave McMenamin, ESPNLA: Los Angeles Lakers center Andrew Bynum made his season debut in a full court, 5-on-5 scrimmage after undergoing surgery on his right knee more than four months ago. Just the fact that Bynum was able to make it through the scrimmage was more significant than how he fared. “He said he tired, which is natural,” Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. “That’s going to happen. “He said there was just one moment where he had a little twinge [of pain], but other than that, he was OK.” The Lakers will take the day off Sunday and see how Bynum’s body responds in the next practice Monday.
From Brian Kamenetzky, Land O’ Lakers: Friday, the Lakers got back on a winning path, cruising past the Kings at Staples. It was a good night for Pau Gasol on a few levels: He was six-for-eight from the floor, good for 16 points to which he added five boards and five assists, plus three blocks, over a hair under 27 minutes, a light load his injured left hamstring desperately needed. After the game, Gasol seemed more excited talking about his pre-game reunion with Isabelle Shattuck, the teenage girl whose extensive spinal surgery he observed early last summer. Both of Gasol’s parents are in medicine and he went to medical school before settling on this whole basketball thing, so Pau’s interest comes honestly. If you happened to miss it, the story from ESPN.com’s Tom Friend is a great read and worth a look (or re-read/re-look, for that matter), as is the photo gallery originally running with it.
From Billy Witz, Fox Sports: If there were a soundtrack to Matt Barnes career, it would be Johnny Cash’s “I’ve Been Everywhere, Man.” When Barnes signed a two-year deal with the Lakers last summer – one year with an option, naturally – they became his eighth team in eight years, after his professional career started in the D-League when he finished at UCLA. In addition to his itinerant ways, Barnes has built a reputation as a hard-edged player whom some ascribe to his days as a high school All-American receiver growing up in Sacramento. He went through a spring practice at UCLA, and considered trying out for NFL clubs when his basketball career took off.