Wednesday, May 5, 2010
Lakers watching Walton closley
By Dave McMemanin and Ramona Shelburne ESPNLosAngeles.com
LOS ANGELES -- How long his aching back -- which caused him to miss 33 games this season -- holds up is anyone's guess. But for now Lakers forward Luke Walton says he's healthy enough to give the team whatever it needs from him during these playoffs.
"It feels good. It kind of was our game plan to have it feeling good this year and hopefully it'll stay feeling like this and hopefully I'll keep playing," said Walton, who is expected to play a larger role in this series than he did in the Lakers first-round series victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder.
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"We're still really cautious as far as what I do in practice and that type of stuff. Like when we're up 30 against Oklahoma City, [coach Phil Jackson] didn't play me at all. Not because it was hurting, just to be cautious."
Walton's playmaking ability, versatility and ability to defend the Jazz's physical offensive players such as Paul Millsap and even Carlos Boozer make him important for the Lakers' rotation in this series. Jackson said he had to balance the Lakers' need for Walton's skill set with preserving his health as the team looks to make another deep playoff run.
"Luke's a player we're watching really closely in his activity level," Jackson said. "How much activity, even practices as we go through this season. What's the best thing for him in a game.
"This is a series that we feel he's very good at defending the type of players they have, and he can help us out."
Big on the boards
The Lakers controlled the glass 58-40 on Tuesday, continuing their streak of winning all six playoff games they've played this postseason when they won the battle of the boards.
Andrew Bynum pulled down a career-playoff high 14 of them, but he was actually bested by two teammates. Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom pulled down 15 boards apiece. It was the seventh time in eight games this postseason Gasol grabbed double-digit rebounds and it was the second time in two games against Utah that Odom surpassed the 10-board plateau.
"Their rebounding tonight was just something we could not handle," Utah coach Jerry Sloan said. "We outrebounded them on the offense [19-18], but could not keep up with them on the defense [40-21]."
It kind of wasn't fair to give Jackson two whole days to come up with an answer. Not when the question was about what he thought of Kobe Bryant's now infamously strange photo shoot with the Los Angeles Times Magazine.
"Remember that movie, 'Where's Roger Rabbit?' "Jackson said, smiling before he even got to the punch line. "You remember that villain who was in there [Judge Doom], it kind of looked like that villain."
Incidentally, the movie in question was titled "Who Framed Roger Rabbit."