The McTen: Magic break L.A.'s road momentum

February, 13, 2011
2/13/11
7:57
PM PT
McMenamin By Dave McMenamin
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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Here are your 10 additional things to take away from the Lakers' 89-75 road loss to the Orlando Magic on Sunday ...

1

For as good as the Lakers looked on defense through their 4-o start to the road trip, they looked equally bad on offense against Orlando.

Los Angeles scored a season-low 75 points -- dipping below the 79-point clunker they put up in a home loss to Milwaukee -- and shot just 39.3 percent for the game.

The Lakers were outscored in all four quarters -- by three in the first, by one in the second, by three in the third and bottoming out by being outscored by seven in the fourth while just shooting 5-of-19 (26.3 percent) in the period.

"We just didn’t move the ball enough as a team," Lamar Odom said. "We didn’t really get the shots I don’t think that we wanted throughout the game."

Odom's thoughts were echoed by the rest of the Lakers.

"Offensively, we just weren’t there. We decided to go one-on-one. Every time we do that, that’s what happens to us," said Andrew Bynum, the only L.A. player to shoot better than 50 percent (8-of-15) for the game. "Dribble, dribble, dribble and then force up a shot. We can’t do that. We don’t win that way."

The Lakers scored the fewest points since putting up 75 against Oklahoma City on March 26 of last season and the fewest they've ever scored in Orlando, finishing well below the 84 they scored in O-Town in March of 1997.

"We can have much better flow for the game," Lakers head coach Phil Jackson said. "That’s really the thing that we’re unhappy about."

Kobe Bryant who was 8-of-18 for the game, taking the bulk of his attempts from the outside, took some of the blame off L.A.'s offense (that Bynum also described as "stagnate") and credited the Magic's defense.

"I think they did a great job defensively," Bryant said. "I think they tried to keep us on the perimeter as much as possible and take contested shots. I think when our bigs got their looks down low, they were physical with them, tried to make them take tough shots as well and crowd them. They did a great job defensively."

Odom, however, could not stomach L.A.'s effort.

"We didn’t really make the team beat us," Odom said. "They didn’t really have to fight hard enough to beat us. It kind of leaves you a little sick sometimes."

2

Bynum played great, finishing with 17 points, nine rebounds and a block but he was outpaced by Orlando's Dwight Howard who had 31, 13 and three on 13-of-16 shooting (with six dunks).

"The stuff we could eliminate was the stuff going to the rim -- lobs," Bynum said. "We got to get to his body. The key was his dunks … we can’t let him do that. We have to make him work for all those baskets."

Bryant even gave Howard a new nickname: "[He was] like a Transformer."

During the course of Bynum and Howard's battles down low, Bynum bumped his bruised left knee into Howard's and limped up and down the court for several possessions. But the sixth-year center was able to play through it.

"We bumped knees but I’m OK," Bynum said. "I put ice on it. It’s not a problem. It was quick, the pain went away."

3

The now imperfect road trip rolls on to Charlotte on Monday where the Lakers will play a Bobcats team they've lost to the last seven of the last nine times they've played them.

Bryant was asked what the Lakers needed to do to get back on track and try to finish their seven-game trip at 6-1.

"Just win a game in Charlotte," Bryant said. "I don’t think we’ve won a game there in like five years."

It's actually been three years since L.A. won at Time Warner Cable Arena, but the point remains that even though the Bobcats have a 23-31 record, they're anything but an easy out.

"I told the players that since they took part in the day off [Sunday], maybe [Monday] we can get after Charlotte and redeem ourselves against them," Jackson said.

4

It was the Lakers first game at the beautiful, brand-new Amway Center which opened at the start of the 2010-11 season.

"This is a great facility," Bryant said. "It may be the best in the league."

While the arena certainly looked great, it didn't treat the Lakers' shooters all that well. On top of the struggles from the field detailed above, L.A. shot just 7-of-15 from the foul line, converting on a season-low 46.7 percent of their supposed freebies.

The Lakers did not practice at the arena Saturday and because of the early tip-off did not have a shootaround Sunday morning.

Jackson theorized the Lakers just struggled with the learning curve of learning the sight lines of a new place to play.

"I think the depth of this arena is really kind of a difficulty for guys to get used to the first time in the building," Jackson said.

5

While the rest of this teammates missed free throws, Bryant did not even take one.

It was the first time Bryant had zero free throw attempts since March 24, 2010 against San Antonio.

"I was too far away from the basket today. I was too far away and I tried to facilitate a little too much," Bryant explained. "I should have been a little bit more aggressive getting to the post a little bit more. But, I’ll make that adjustment next time."

The lack of free throws wasn't the only oddity in Bryant's game Sunday. With 3:43 remaining in the fourth quarter and the Lakers trailing by 15 points, Bryant went to the bench, his day done.

Asked if it was a decision by Jackson to cut the team's losses and save Bryant's legs for the second leg of back-to-back games tomorrow in Charlotte, Bryant merely answered, "Probably."

So, was it Bryant's choice to come out or Jackson's call?

"What does that question have anything to do with tomorrow?" Bryant questioned back tersely before adding facetiously, "Yes, I subbed myself out."

Asked if he was disappointed to throw in the towel and watch the end of the game from the bench, Bryant continued the sarcasm.

"I was mortified."

6

Tip-off for the game was 3:30 p.m. ET which felt like 12:30 p.m. PT for any Lakers on the trip whose bodies haven't adjusted to the time change nine days into this 13-day road trip. For whatever reason, the Lakers have looked sluggish on Sundays, going 3-5 in their last eight Sunday games this season.

"We’re better than we showed today but Sundays have been a factor for us, no doubt about it," said Jackson.

Three of those five losses were early starts, but Shannon Brown said that shouldn't affect L.A. because the Lakers' regular practice time begins at 10 a.m.

"You can’t really say it’s the morning time because we practice harder sometimes than we play," Brown said. "It’s more mental if anything."

Lamar Odom refused to use it as an excuse.

"I don’t care if we play at nine in the morning or nine at night, we should just play better," Odom said.

7

Last year when the Lakers played in Orlando, Matt Barnes famously faked throwing a pass at Bryant's face during an inbounds pass and Bryant didn't flinch. The two tussled throughout the game and Bryant ended up pursuing Barnes to join the Lakers as a free agent in the offseason because of the toughness he showed.

Barnes did not make the trip, staying back to rehab his right knee that's kept him out of the lineup since Jan. 7 when he suffered a torn lateral meniscus.

Barnes has kept upbeat, posting injury updates to his Twitter account (@Matt_Barnes22) regularly, like this tweet he had on Saturday: "Very good day. Sprinted on the court full speed w/no pain. Bout a sec&half of my healthy pace. Gotta Keep Grindn!!!"

Jackson doesn't use Twitter, but he has embraced technology to keep in touch with his backup small forward.

"We text a couple times, he and I," Jackson said. "He’s the only player really I’ve ever text with but it’s something where I can really keep in touch with Matt while we’re on the road."

Jackson said the plan is for Barnes to return to the practice court with the Lakers following the All-Star break.

"We hope he can practice at some basis when we get back," Jackson said. "It may not be a full scrimmage yet, but we hope he can practice. He’s on the court doing some shooting now as we go through this week so hopefully by next Monday he can do some [more] things."

8

Seen in the locker room: While Luke Walton was getting dressed after the game he noticed an extra iPhone on the floor by his seat. Walton picked up the phone and toggled the screen hoping to figure out who it belonged to. "He doesn't have a pass code set?!" Walton asked incredulously. "He's got to be a rookie." About a minute later Devin Ebanks came back to where Walton was sitting looking for his cell phone that he left behind.

9

Quote of the night: "The showers are warm. And there’s usually more than two." -- Jackson on the difference in today's modern NBA arenas with the facilities he used to play in.

10

Stats of the night: Orlando outrebounded L.A. 46-34 ... The Lakers were called for two defensive three-second technical violations ... The Lakers only had eight turnovers to the Magic's 17, but had eight more field goal attempts but four less field goal makes, sealing their fate.

Dave McMenamin covers the Lakers for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Follow him on Twitter.

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Kobe Bryant
PTS AST STL MIN
22.3 5.6 1.3 34.5
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsJ. Hill 8.0
AssistsK. Bryant 5.6
StealsR. Price 1.6
BlocksE. Davis 1.3