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Wednesday, November 24, 2010
The McTen: Lakers Looking Bullish

By Dave McMenamin

Here are your 10 additional things to take away from the Lakers98-91 win over the Chicago Bulls Tuesday ...

1
The Lakers 13th win on the season was decided by a three-minute flurry in the fourth quarter.

With 8:13 remaining in the fourth, the Bulls led by two, 81-79. With 4:58 remaining in the fourth, the Bulls trailed by 12. What happened exactly in that three minutes and 15 seconds?

The Killer B's, that's what. With a little Kobe Bryant sprinkled in. (Bryant has already opted out of the club, telling reporters earlier in the season, "My 'B' stands for 'Black Mamba.'" So it was kind of like Spiderman joining the X-Men for a fight or something.)

Shannon Brown hit a 3. Matt Barnes hit a 3 and two free throws. Steve Blake hit two 3s. Bryant added a fadeaway jumper. When the damage was done the Lakers had scored 14 points while only allowing two Derrick Rose free throws on the other end.

"We have a deep bench full of guys capable of starting on any ballclub, so we expect this from them," Bryant said.

Until that surge by L.A., it had been a back-and-forth game all night.

2
As long as Brown keeps shooting the way he's been shooting, he'll occupy one of these 10 slots after every game.

The fifth-year guard had 21 points against Chicago, tying a season high, and 18 of them came in the first half. He went 5-for-10 from 3-point range and 7-for-14 overall, which actually lowered his shooting percentages in both categories (a sign of just how hot he has been this year).

"[In the past] Shannon had a little hesitation about whether he should shoot or drive and he’s got so much patience right now, he’s real comfortable taking the shot and believes it and we’re encouraging him when it feels right to shoot that ball," Jackson said. "Otherwise, he’s got such a great drive, teams have to play back off him a little bit because of his speed."

Brown, who boosted his season tally to 27-for-59 from 3-point range (50.9 percent), said it's been a long time since he can remember being in this kind of zone.

"Probably in grammar school," Brown said. "We didn't even have a 3-point line in grammar school so I was just shooting it from wherever, hoping it would go in."
3
With so many different players making big plays during crunch time for the Lakers these days, Jackson was asked if it was a good problem to have so many able contributors to choose from when putting five players on the floor to close out a game.

"Yes, it is," Jackson said. "In fact, I thought about Fish, thought about Lamar a couple times in that stretch where we had a little bit of lull," Jackson said. "But those [other] guys had done the job and needed to finish that game off."

4
The win earned the team a well-deserved break over the next two days. Seen on the white board in the locker room describing the upcoming agenda was, "Therapy: Physical, Mental & Spiritual" for Wednesday (along with a mandate for players who logged less than 15 minutes in the game to show up for a practice) and for Thursday,"Turkey Trot," followed by an 8 p.m. flight to Salt Lake City for Friday's game against the Jazz.

5
The "Turkey Trot" is an annual light-hearted practice that Jackson holds as a team-building exercise for his squads.

"Instead of having a serious practice, we have a fun practice," Jackson said. "We have a practice in which there's a lot of levity and we still try to get something accomplished because that's part of what we do whenever we take the court, but it changes up -- we put our bigs at guards and our guards at centers and we let them play roles they never get to play but they still have to work it out in the offense."

Last year the smalls beat the bigs 145-100 and led by more than 60 at one point.

"Guards always kick their [butts]," Bryant said. "The bigs haven't won a game since we've been doing it the last 10 years. They haven't won one."

6
Phil Jackson has already been inducted to the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass. But, on the occasion of the two teams he has coached matching up, he was asked which team he would have chosen to enter the hall as a member of, as if they did it like they do in Cooperstown, N.Y.

"I wouldn’t pick," Jackson said. "I just wouldn’t do that."

Jackson said he doesn't identify with any team he's been a part of any more than the other.

"You have an affection for the time you spent there," Jackson said. "The fans are still there and you hope the teams do well."

While talking about the subject, Jackson might have provided more proof that this truly is his "Last Stand" as a NBA head coach. He pointed out that he spent 11 years with the Knicks as a player, and 11 years with the Bulls as an assistant and then head coach. And what number season is Jackson's 2010-11 campaign with the Lakers? Bingo. No. 11. You just know Phil loves that kind of symmetry.

7
Got to catch up with Bulls assistant coach Ed Pinckney before the game. Believe it or not, I used to play pickup hoops with "Easy E" back when he was an assistant at Villanova University and I spent my summers working as a counselor at college basketball camps up and down the East coast, including at Nova's, which is literally a few blocks away from where I grew up. Last season Pinckney worked as a color commentator for the Philadelphia 76ers so he got to witness the regrettable reunion with the Sixers and Allen Iverson firsthand. Pinckney, who has played and coached overseas and knows the finicky expectations of owners, coaches and general managers in foreign leagues quite well, did not have much faith in Iverson's fledgling career in Turkey. "I say he's home by Christmas," Pinckney said.

8
You pretty much know what you're going to get in the No. 8 spot of this thing if you're a regular reader. Yes, links to other stories I wrote that night. Here's an Andrew Bynum update which is 100 percent good news, so if it comes around to you at the Thanksgiving table and you can't think of anything on Thursday to be thankful for, you can store this news in the back of your mind as something you can share with the folks at home. Also, PJax had a lot to say about the Miami Heat before the game. The most interesting part for me was probably how he acknowledged the part of the villain that the Heat are being framed as right now. "I think a lot of people are looking at that kind of hoping things go wrong," Jackson said.

9
Quotes of the night: "He's on his way to one of those awards, you know?" -- Lamar Odom on Shannon Brown's dual qualifications for Sixth Man and Most Improved Player this season.

"It's the same system. It's the same thing I saw in Houston and Boston and here. I think the rule is: anybody but. That's their defensive philosophy." -- Kobe Bryant on Chicago head coach Tom Thibodeau's defense against him.

"You know? I agree." -- Bryant on his opinion of Michael Jordan recently saying that out of all the players in the league, Bryant possesses a competitiveness and passion for the game that is the closest to what Jordan had when he played.

10
Stats of the night: Ron Artest scored just two points on 1-of-8 shooting, marking the fifth straight game he has scored less than 10 points. During the stretch, Artest has averaged just 3.8 points on 30.8 percent shooting. The Lakers have won all five of those games. In the Lakers only two losses this season, Artest averaged 15.5 points. Artest is now averaging 8.7 points for the season, the lowest of his 12-year career. His previous low was 11.0 -- last season with L.A. ... Derek Fisher finished 0-for-6 against Chicago, two games after going 5-for-5 against Minnesota ... Despite a 3-for-10 showing from the field, Gasol had a +/- of +11, the highest of any Lakers player on the night.

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