From Mike Bresnahan, LA Times: Chris Duhon walked toward the Lakers’ bench during a timeout, saw a group of reporters sitting nearby and yelled at them. “Second unit!” he said, accompanying it with a wink during a solid in-game run by the Lakers’ reserves. Yes, he has read about it too. The Lakers’ backups have been anything but supportive, so inept that the starters have racked up huge minutes four weeks into the season. It’s generally unwise to count two games as a trend, but the bench wasn’t half bad over the holiday weekend. Antawn Jamison emerged for the first time this season, averaging 17.5 points and 11 rebounds against Memphis and Dallas. Jodie Meeks scored 12 points against Dallas. In a side note, third-string point guard Darius Morris has played well enough to carve out future playing time for himself when Steve Nash and Steve Blake return. Jamison, however, is the key.
From Kevin Ding, OC Register: Pau Gasol said after the Lakers’ victory Saturday night that he has tendinitis in both knees that has been “pretty bothersome.” Gasol has been wearing bands over both knees during games for a while in an attempt to control the swelling and pain. He said: “It’s something that has been lingering. So far, I’m dealing with it.” Knee pain certainly is an issue for Gasol in meeting the lofty demands of Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni to run the floor and bring energy, although Gasol managed to do exactly those things in the victory in Dallas. Gasol is coming off minimal offseason rest as the anchor of the Spanish national team that won the silver medal in the London Olympics. He said the knees didn’t bother him then, but they are now. Kobe Bryant noted after the loss in Sacramento on Wednesday that Gasol looked slow, and he had another poor game Friday in Memphis.
From Ben R, Silver Screen & Roll: We have discussed at length the past few weeks about the necessity of a coach being able to sell his system to his players, one of the more important delineations of the differences between Phil Jackson and Mike Brown, as well as Brown and Mike D’Antoni. That many of the Lakers’ ancillary players appear to be flourishing is testament to this facet. For the first time in more than year, however, we have the benefit of a coach in D’Antoni actually adept at not only the aforementioned skill, but of making the proper adjustments to adapt his system to his players, as we went from two straight games of awful production from the Lakers’ frontcourt to a very respectable output against Dallas. This is only D’Antoni’s fourth game on the job and he has disproven, at least at the moment, that he is wedded to the specific kind of system he ran with Steve Nash in Phoenix. Ultimately, coaches put their players in positions to succeed through ideal personnel groupings, using them in the correct spots on offense, and managing their minutes. As the common refrain goes, you build your system to complement your players, not the other way around. This was Brown’s error and the fact that D’Antoni was capable of making the necessary changes might strike one as a simple change, but it is an important one. The end result has been that essentially everyone, from the starters to the bench, are being involved in the flow of the offense and the highly egalitarian scoring distribution against Dallas is what you want to see from an offense supposed to rely on the ball constantly moving to the open man.
From Mark Medina, LA Daily News: There’s no one more eager for Steve Nash’s return than Kobe Bryant. The reasons are obvious. “I won’t have to bring the ball up as much. I like facilitating, but I like to score a lot more,” Bryant said. “When he comes back, he’ll make my life a lot easier.” It remains unclear when that will happen. The Lakers plan to re-evaluate Nash’s fractured left leg sometime today. Nash has yet to perform any running exercises. The guard also recently expressed doubts he’d play when the Lakers (7-7) host the Indiana Pacers (6-8) on Tuesday at Staples Center. It’s possible Bryant could find some relief since Steve Blake might play against Indiana after a lower abdominal strain kept him out for the past seven games. Bryant has shared ball-handling duties with starting point guard Darius Morris and reserve Chris Duhon. Bryant, who’s averaging a league-leading 26.9 points per game, still appears eager to score. But he’s also had at least five assists in eight of the Lakers’ 14 games. In the Lakers’ 115-89 victory Saturday over the Dallas Mavericks, Bryant took zero field-goal attempts in the first quarter in hopes of involving others early. Metta World Peace responded with 16 points.
From Ramona Shelburne, ESPN Los Angeles: Steve Nash stands a shade over 6-foot-3 when his latest hairdo is freshly combed, dresses well, has a wicked sense of humor and is one of the more socially conscious athletes in professional sports. One day he will be a Hall of Famer. For as long as he plays, he’ll be one of the best point guards in the game. But to hear the Los Angeles Lakers, particularly coach Mike D’Antoni, talk about him of late, he’s become more mythic superhero than man. “In Phoenix, we couldn’t win without him,” D’Antoni said reverentially. “Not even a game.” On Saturday evening, the Lakers won their seventh game without Nash, a 115-89 blowout of the Dallas Mavericks that stopped the bleeding after two straight buzz-killing road losses this week. But there was no celebration in the Lakers’ locker room. Relief, maybe. A few smiles, sure. But it’s become clear to all involved that we really won’t know anything about these Lakers — D’Antoni’s Lakers — until Nash, who has been out since Oct. 31 with a fractured leg, is ready to run ’em again.