Monthly Archive for February, 2012

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Lakers 90, Sixers 95: Feb. 6 Running Diary

Below is a running diary of L.A.’s Monday evening road contest at Philly, the Lakers looking to bounce back from a tough loss in Utah, with some comments drawn from our @LakersReporter Twitter account, and a few more details in case you missed any of the action:

Lakers: Fisher, Bryant, World Peace, Gasol and Bynum
Sixers: J. Holiday, J. Meeks, A. Iguodala, L. Allen, S. Hawes

8:00 A strong Lakers start saw the road team off to a 9-2 lead after Bryant nailed a wide-open three pointer, as Evan Turner made the mistake of helping off the Philly native. Bryant had five points, and Gasol two buckets in the hot start, Kobe now only 19 points away from passing Shaquille O’Neal for fifth on the NBA’s all-time scoring list.

2:36 Philly’s bench has been terrific from a scoring standpoint all season, and Lou Williams, Evan Turner and Thad Young showed why by combining for 11 points to trail by just two at 19-17.

0:00 The quarter belonged to Kobe, however, as he totaled 14 points – including two three-pointers, from from almost Pittsburgh, it was so deep – to lead LA. to a 24-21 lead. Andrew Bynum grabbed seven rebounds inside, and John Kuester had time outs running crisply as head coach Mike Brown (suspended for making contact with an official in Utah) watched from the team hotel, likely eating special Philly cheesesteaks sent by Kobe.

7:00 Kobe didn’t exactly cool off after checking back in … he immediately drained back-to-back three-pointers, both contested, to reach 20 points on 7-of-11 FG’s, with four threes. He’d then add two free throws to get within a point of tying Shaq, and put L.A. up 36-32.

5:08 On a long pull-up two, Kobe Bryant became the fifth leading scorer in NBA history. Pretty amazing. He was up to 24 points in the game, and had the Lakers up to a five-point lead. Bryant did admit that passing Shaquille O’Neal, his former teammate, did in fact mean something special to him, just like it did when Bryant earned his fifth championship ring to surpass Shaq’s four.

0:00 L.A. couldn’t get any one of three shots in the finals seconds to go, but still took a 50-46 lead into the half, behind the 24 points from Kobe, and a collective 16 boards plus some strong low post defense from their twin 7-footers. The Sixers got 26 points off their bench to just two for L.A., but don’t let that stat deceive you too much … Philly’s scheme is designed to be of equal opportunity, and their bench players play much more than that of the Lakers, which features the talents of Bryant, Gasol and Bynum.

11:00 Bynum scored inside on LAL’s first offensive possesion, which allows us to point out that he had 10 boards in that first half, almost as much as Philly’s total of 14. Controlling the glass completely helped L.A., but Philly stayed in it thanks in part to eight Lakers turnovers and by hitting five triples.

6:34 Three consecutive turnovers … which as we mentioned was what kept Philly in the game in the first half … here got Philly into the lead, as Bryant twice gave up the ball and Philly twice scored at the other end, taking a 58-57 advantage. Minutes later, a Meeks three would give Philly its biggest lead of the game at 63-59, capping an 11-2 run for the home team.

1:00 L.A. came out of a John Kuester time out with a 8-3 run, getting good ball movement as the double teams continued to come on Kobe, as Murphy and Goudelock got threes, and Murphy a dunk from Gasol. Nonetheless, a Thad Young baseline J put Philly up 70-69 heading into the final quarter.

9:30 The Murphy/Goudelock combo continued to help, as both scored again to reach seven points apiece off the bench, and put L.A. back in front. Goudelock then nailed a tough baseline turnaround to make it a 77-74 LAL lead.

6:09 Bynum had been asserting himself on the glass throughout the evening, grabbing 18 – his second-highest total of the season – and was also getting the job done on offense, twice getting Gasol easy hoops with pretty passes, and blocking shots on D. He added an emphatic put-back dunk off Kobe’s miss, capping a 6-0 run that put his team up five.

3:23 With Philly continuing to over play Kobe, a frequent LAL play the whole year worked twice more, Kobe first feeding Gasol, who then lobbed inside to Bynum to get two free throws. Bynum made both, snapping a 5-0 Philly run that had them within two, to put L.A. up four.

0:11.0 But from that point on, Kobe missed his next four shots and turned the ball over once (a push off), while Lou Williams hit three consecutive shots to put Philly up five. Kobe finally got one to go with 1:06 to play, but after a defensive stop, missed in the lane with 32 seconds to go and Philly up three. On the other end, L.A. had Philly desperate for a shot with three seconds on the clock, but Gasol bumped Williams outside the three-point line. The Lakers weren’t in the bonus yet, but the shot clock got reset to 14 seconds (11 on the game clock), meaning L.A. had to foul. Williams made both free throws to put Philly up five, and the game was essentially over at 95-90.

L.A. was very much in the driver’s seat, not for the first time this season, but failed to execute down the stretch, and thus saw their four-game winning streak in Philadelphia snapped. They’d have two days to think about it before a Thursday evening game in Boston.

Kuester to Step In for Brown

With the news that Mike Brown will serve a 1-game suspension for making contact with an official (at Utah) on Monday in Philadelphia, the Lakers will turn to Brown’s lead assistant, John Kuester, to take over head coaching duties.

While fellow assistant coaches Chuck Person, Quin Snyder (who served as an assistant last season under Doug Collins) and Darvin Ham scout opposing teams, Person drawing the Sixers, Kuester is responsible for taking in the big picture, just like Brown.

Should Brown ever get ejected or suspended as in Philly, Kuester stays ready to step in, though he’ll still be very active particularly in drawing up offensive plays, as he does when Brown’s on the bench.

Some other notes ahead of Lakers – Sixers:

- Kobe Bryant needs to score his jersey number, 24, to pass Shaquille O’Neal as the NBA’s 5th leading scorer in history. He has played 28 games (24 starts) against his hometown Sixers, averaging 22.6 points per game.
- The Lakers have gone 14-6 in the last three Grammy trips and built momentum for the respective season’s stretch runs. In 2008-09: 6-0; 2009-10: 5-3; 2010-11: 4-3. 2012-13: 1-1 so far.
- The Lakers lead the NBA in field goal defense (opponents shooting 41.6%).
- The Sixers have six guys in double figures, the leader (Sixth Man) Louis Williams averaging only 15.1 ppg, while the vast majority of LAL points come from Bryant, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum.
- Elton Brand didn’t play in Philly’s last game due to a finger injury. We’ll have to check on him at the arena.

Lakers 87, Jazz 96: Feb. 4 Running Diary

Below is a running diary of L.A.’s Saturday evening road contest at Utah, the Lakers looking for a third straight road win to back up Friday’s win at Denver, with some comments drawn from our @LakersReporter Twitter account, and a few more details in case you missed any of the action:

Lakers: Fisher, Bryant, World Peace, Gasol and Bynum
Jazz: D. Harris, G. Hayward, J. Howard, P. Millsap, A. Jefferson

4:36 A night after grabbing a season-high 17 rebounds, Gasol grabbed his fifth of the first quarter on one end, then converted a tough and-1 from the baseline to reach seven points and give the Lakers an early 14-13 lead.

0:00 For a team that arrived at the team hotel at about 4 a.m., L.A. didn’t look too tired, getting 17 of its 25 first quarter points from Bryant and Gasol to lead by three points. Bynum also had six points, meaning a long Fisher jumper was the only hoop that didn’t come from the three best Lakers. In related news, the text question on KCAL.9 for the evening was: Who will score more points? A) Bryant + Gasol + Bynum, or B) the Patriots and Giants in the Super Bowl.

7:50 My tweet after Bynum converted a tough and-1 to put LAL up 33-29 (and before he swatted rookie Enes Kanter at the other end): After a tough and-1 from Bynum, World Peace couldn’t resist popping off the bench to emphatically kiss his biceps in tribute.

5:28 The second unit did a pretty good job for L.A., actually adding a point to the lead thanks to some internal damage from Bynum and a floater from Andrew Goudelock. The rookie did struggle a bit getting the Lakers into their offensive sets, however, which is something that Mike Brown actually expects since G-Lock has never really played PG in his life (he’s a scorer, folks).

0:00 A beautiful final play of the half allowed L.A. to hold a narrow 49-47 lead, and it involved all three stars, as Bryant passed out of a double-team to Gasol near the foul line, and the Spaniard turned to lob the ball inside to Bynum, who converted the layup. The three combined for 40 of L.A.’s 49 points.

5:33 The Jazz took their first lead since early in the contest when Al Jefferson got a jumper to go, though Bynum quickly responded by drawing a personal on the other end and converting both free throws. It was the second straight really strong game for Bynum (18 points, seven boards, two blocks) since he was announced as the Western All-Star starter at center.

3:14 “Sloppy” would be a good way to describe the third quarter for both teams, L.A. making only 3-of-14 shots, and Utah just 5-for-14, in a game knotted at 58 until two Kobe free throws gave him 15 points, three fewer than Gasol and Bynum for the game high.

0:03.0 As Utah picked it up on one end, L.A. got an answer from sub Matt Barnes, who drained a wing three off a Kobe kick out to tie the game at 67 heading into the final quarter.

8:35 Mike Brown couldn’t have been more mad after a no call in transition when Gasol appeared to be fouled, and jumped off the bench all the way over to the nearest official. He was quickly tossed out of the game, and since Utah had already been on a run, the lead grew to double digits.

6:00 Utah kept its run, led by Earl Watson off the bench, who nailed a three to push the lead to 15. But the Lakers responded fiercely, Kobe hitting back-to-back threes and Bynum’s put back eventually cutting the lead to six with about four to go.

2:29 That was as close as L.A. would get, however, the lead remaining at six as Gasol swatted Raja Bell with a second left on the shot clock … but a back breaker resulted as Jefferson managed to get a shot off and through the net with 0.6 seconds on the clock. Watson nailed another triple, further putting the game out of doubt, in what ended up as a 96-87 final.

Lakers Must Rebound Quickly for Jazz

After a bus ride at a marathoner’s pace through snowy Denver and a thorough de-icing of the team plane’s wings once the Lakers got on board, the team finally took off for Salt Lake City at about 2:30 a.m., a 93-89 road victory in the Mile High City already a thing of the past.

By the time the players were actually in their respective hotel rooms in Salt Lake City in advance of a 7 p.m. tip that evening, the clocks were showing 4 a.m., meaning L.A. would have only 15 hours between entering rooms and tipping off.

This particular back-to-back happens to be more grueling than usual due to a combination of a late national TV start (8:40 p.m. tip) and winter weather conditions, but it’s not something Derek Fisher hasn’t seen time and again in his 16th NBA season.

“I think the No. 1 step you take is mental,” Fisher explained after playing a key role in the final defensive stanza that allowed L.A. to hold on and beat the Nuggets. “You make a decision right after the game, in the Denver locker room, that you’re going to start preparing for the game in Utah. You start telling yourself that you have to figure out a way to bring the necessary energy, passion and commitment to the next night’s game, and there are no excuses.”

Utah, after all, isn’t too interested with what time the Lakers turned lights out in their hotel rooms.

“Utah could care less if we played the night before,” Fisher agreed. “We talked briefly about it as a group – making sure guys are hydrating, taking care of themselves tonight and trying to put the right things in their body so that they can respond. But it’s early in the six-game trip, this is just game No. 2 (coming up), and there’s no reason to be tired just yet.”

When the Lakers do actually take the court against Utah at 7 p.m., it may be the first time they learn who’s going to play in what has become a very beat up Jazz back court.

Regular starter at the point Devin Harris missed the team’s Thursday loss at Golden State due to a hamstring strain, and is a game-time decision who doesn’t appear too likely to play based on his comments. Regular back up point Earl Watson sprained his ankle and also missed Thursday’s game, and may also find it tough to play against L.A., leaving third stringer Jamaal Tinsley — who was actually the No. 1 pick of the D-League draft by the L.A. D-Fenders before being called into Utah’s camp and making the team — as the only sure option. Tinsley played well against the Warriors, totaling 13 assists, with nine points and six boards in 34 minutes.

The team’s regular shooting guard, Raja Bell, who has guarded Kobe Bryant so many times, has also missed the last three games due to an adductor strain, and is questionable to play as well. Gordon Hayward, who usually starts at the 3, started at the two, while Josh Howard filled in at small forward. Both played very well, totaling 40 points in nearly 40 minutes a piece. Rookie Alec Burks was the only back court sub for the Jazz; he scored seven points in 13 minutes.

Utah’s strength will remain in the front court, where Paul Millsap, Al Jefferson, Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors all see minutes, but the Lakers would certainly prefer a low post battle to the type of open court game Denver tried to play – if unsuccessfully – in the first of this back-to-back.

We’ll see how it all works out in a (very) few hours.

Lakers 93, Nuggets 89: Feb. 3 Running Diary

Below is a running diary of L.A.’s Friday evening road contest at Denver, the Lakers looking to win their second straight and third overall road game, with some comments drawn from our @LakersReporter Twitter account, and a few more details in case you missed any of the action:

Lakers: Fisher, Bryant, World Peace, Gasol and Bynum
Nuggets: T. Lawson, A. Afflalo, D. Gallinari, Nene, T. Mozgov

10:55 In his pregame media session, Nuggets coach George Karl called Andrew Bynum the league’s “best paint player,” and Bynum responded with back-to-back hoops from the paint to get L.A. off to a 4-0 start. It was his first game after being named to his first All-Star game as a starter, something he was eager to back up.

5:27 More Bynum. The second of two big dunks came off a pretty alley-oop from Kobe (three assists), getting L.A.’s center to 4-of-4 from the field for nine points. L.A.’s lead was 17-10 heading into the first time out, and in that huddle, Mike Brown emphasized the importance of his players sprinting back to the paint, not necessarily their man, in transition.

0:00 The Lakers were terrific to start the game, but after taking a 23-12 lead with 3:05 to play, allowed a 9-0 Nuggets run to close the quarter leading by only two. Al Harrington hit the final bucket, from three, reminding of his big game off the bench against L.A. back on New Years Day.

9:55 The Lakers finally got something out of Denver’s immediately doubling Bynum, the center first splitting the double to get a layup and stop an 11-0 run, then finding Jason Kapono in the corner for a long two started a quick 7-0 run to make it a 32-25 L.A. lead. Two straight makes came from Andrew Goudelock, the second round pick who has scored in double figures in three of the last four games.

4:00 The teams traded buckets for the next five minutes, until Afflalo’s wing three tied the game at 34. L.A. had missed three consecutive jump shots well short (Bryant, Gasol, Murphy), suggesting some early fatigue. The road team hadn’t played since Tuesday’s blow out win over Charlotte, so the legs were there, but sometimes it takes a bit to get one’s game legs back after a longer-than-usual lay off.

0:00 L.A. must have been pleased to hold Denver to only 41 points in the half, despite allowing six in the final minute, since they average a league-best 105 points per game, and took a 44-41 lead on a Goudelock floater (which he told me pregame he’s been taking and practicing since high school).

10:01 The Nuggets took their first lead of the evening on a Gallinari three, the team’s 3rd, and a Mozgov layup, though may have lost their Russian center for the evening as he rolled his left ankle coming down from the layup. Bryant continued his slow shooting night, missing twice to fall to just 2-of-12 from the field, and this after his 6-for-28 shooting night on New Years Day in this building.

2:20 Led by an effective defense, L.A. re-opened the lead it enjoyed for most of the first half, getting its first three-pointer from Troy Murphy (they’d been 0-for-7) and then another from way downtown, Goudelock hitting his first of the evening to put L.A. up 66-60. Denver would chop off two points before the break, but L.A. held a four-point lead nonetheless.

8:35 Another Goudelock bucket, plus Bynum’s reverse hoop and 1-of-2 free throws kept the Lakers in control, up 77-71 as crunch time approached.

5:17 A bizarre stretch for L.A. saw two bad calls on the sideline result first in a lost possession, then a T on Barnes for swinging his elbows on offense, with the ball, even though no contact was made with Rudy Fernandez. Denver cut the lead to as few as two when Harrington hit a three, but Bynum responded with consecutive dunks.

4:15 Make that back-to-back Harrington 3′s, the second cutting L.A.’s lead to just one at 84-83. The Lakers had controlled the entire game, and just when it was trending the other way, who but Metta World Peace (who’d just missed his third and fourth FT’s of the game) would answer with a three?

0:47.2 Stay with us here, folks: L.A. made the key plays it needed down the stretch, getting two stops around a corner two from Fisher that kept the lead at four with 47.2 seconds left, when World Peace came up with a key steal in the final minute. But just when it appeared L.A. had the game wrapped up, Bynum getting a low post catch from Bryant after Denver overplayed No. 24, nothing was called when Nene hit Bynum’s arm, and Denver was awarded possession after the ball went out of bounds off L.A. Regardless, World Peace played great D on Al Harrington, trying to tie the game for the Nuggets when down two, and Matt Barnes secured the rebound with under a second to play. He made two foul shots at the other end to make the final score L.A. 93, Denver 89, a tough road win for the Lakers to start off the 6-game Grammy trip.

We’ll see you in Utah tomorrow night.

Bryant Named Player of the Month

Kobe Bryant was named Western Conference Player of the Month for games played in December and January, after leading the league in scoring (30.0 ppg) and adding 6.1 rebounds and 5.5 assists for the 13-9 Lakers.

Bryant is no stranger to the award, earning it for the 14th time in his career, matching the number of times he’s been selected as a Western All-Star, the latest of which occurred on Thursday evening. Kobe was also named NBA Player of the Month for December of 2000, a year before the award was divided into respective conferences for the 2001-02 season.

Bryant’s previous Western Conference Player of the Month awards came in March 2011, December 2009, January 2009, December 2008, April 2008, February 2008, March of 2007, December 2006, April 2006, January 2006, March 2004, January 2003 and November 2001.

Some other milestones have come this season for the Black Mamba, who on January 1st at Denver became the youngest player in NBA history to score 28,000 points. In a victory over Phoenix on January 10th, Bryant went off for an NBA season-high 48 points, beginning a scoring spree of four straight 40+ point games. He also etched his name further into Lakers lore, surpassing Jerry West as the Lakers franchise leader in free throws made on January 28th at Milwaukee, and shooting past Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the franchise leader in field goals made on the following night in Minnesota.

Bryant also earned two Western Conference Player of the Week awards in January, an honor he’s now claimed 30 times.

Bryant & Bynum: All-Star Starters

Kobe Bryant has now been named a Western Conference All Star starter more times (14) than Phil Jackson has accepted championship rings as a player and a coach (13), and far more times than the rest of his fellow Western All Stars combined (8).

Bryant led all Western players in fan votes, which is nothing new, as he’s been elected a starter in the game every year except for his rookie season (1996-97), and in 1999 when the lockout prevented the game. But for the first time, one of Bryant’s fellow starters will be teammate Andrew Bynum, who led all Western centers in votes.

“I can’t wait to go, it’s going to be exciting, and I’m looking forward to it,” said Bynum. “The fans are pushing you, and it’s not left up to someone else. That’s great.”

In 18 starts after missing the first four games due to a suspension, Bynum has averaged 16.5 points on team-best 54.8 percent shooting, while leading the Lakers with 12.1 rebounds and 1.89 blocks per game in 34.3 minutes a night. He ranks third in the NBA in rebounding, sixth in field goal percentage and 10th in blocks.

“I’m in a good system, I’m getting the ball a lot more, and without (Lamar) Odom here, I’m getting more minutes,” he explained. Yes, Bynum’s minutes are way up. Last season, he played only 27.8 per game, a difference of 6.8 an evening, improving the average for his career to 24.8.

Speaking of minutes played … despite being in his 16th NBA season, and having already played more playoff minutes than any basketball player ever, Bryant ranked second in minutes per game until Tuesday’s blowout win over Charlotte allowed him to sit for the fourth quarter. He now ranks fourth at 38.0 per night behind relative youngsters Kevin Love, Marc Gasol and Monta Ellis.

And he’s making the most of the increased court time. In those 38 minutes, Bryant is leading the NBA in scoring 30.0 points per game, the most he’s posted since 2006-07, along with 6.1 rebounds and 5.4 assists (both his most since 2007-08).

“It’s ridiculous, but obviously, he’s the best player in the game, so he’s going to make it every year,” said Bynum, reflecting on how well Bryant’s playing this season and all of his All Star trips. Indeed, while Bryant expects to be there, and will continue to be for the foreseeable future (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar holds the record with 18 appearances), the first one is always the most special.

“It feels great,” Bynum continued. “I want to continue to progress, and let my game expand. It makes me a lot more confident – definitely feel a lot more confident.”

This will be the first time that Bynum has ever even attended All-Star weekend since entering the league in 2005. In the past, he’s done things as random as gone to an Air Force base, where he looked into the cockpit but decided not to get in since “the eject thing was live.” Fair enough. While we’re not so sure his 7-foot, 285-pound frame would fit in the plane, Bynum said he wouldn’t be too worried about potential danger.

“If you can’t trust the Navy, who can you trust?”

The only remaining question in Los Angeles about the All Star game is whether or not Pau Gasol will make his fourth consecutive trip, and fifth of his career. Kevin Durant and Blake Griffin have claimed the starting forward slots, leaving Gasol — an All-NBA second teamer last season — looking for a vote from the coaches, just like Finals MVP Dirk Nowitzki or Tim Duncan, and guys having excellent years LaMarcus Aldridge, Kevin Love and Paul Millsap.

Bynum said that there’s absolutely no question that Gasol (16.3 points, 9.5 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.23 blocks) deserves to go, but that L.A.’s win total might make it tough to have three Lakers in the mix.

Either way, there will be two Lakers in the starting line up for the first time since Kobe and Shaquille O’Neal in 2004.

2/2/12 Injury Update: Steve Blake

Lakers point guard Steve Blake, who has been out since Jan. 11 after suffering a costochaondral fracture (fracture of the cartilage that connects the rib to the sternum), was cleared for running on a treadmill by doctors on Tuesday prior to L.A.’s win over Charlotte.

Blake’s healing is progressing at the normal, expected pace, and there remains no specific timetable for his return. The team originally suspected that he’d be out for 3-4 weeks from the original incident, which actually occurred on Jan. 10 vs. Phoenix and was aggravated at Utah the next night.

Blake will join the team on the 6-game Grammy trip for which they take flight on Thursday afternoon.

With Offense Clicking, 3′s Starting to Drop

Coming out of a 3-game losing streak to Miami, Orlando and Indiana, the Lakers were the NBA’s worst 3-point shooting team, making about a fourth of their attempts (26.4 percent), about the percentage that Jack Nicholson and Denzel Washington might convert from their courtside seats (OK, not really).

Despite the presence of marksman like free agent signings Troy Murphy and Jason Kapono, and veterans who’ve proven the ability to knock down the three like Kobe Bryant, Derek Fisher and Matt Barnes, this wasn’t shocking. After all, it’s clear that the truncated training camp, a complete lack of practice time due to the NBA’s busiest early-season schedule (18 games in 28 days) and new rotations that had players unsure about where they’d be getting their shots was making an impact not just on the 3-point shooting, but on the offense itself.

But after that narrow loss to the Pacers on Jan. 22, the schedule slowed down for the first time, L.A. playing “only” four games in the next nine days (winning three), which allowed head coach Mike Brown to run some contact practices for the first time since camp. He acknowledged that time to iron things out in practice has led directly to a more effective offense.

“It has to do with execution, just a better feel and a comfort level,” said Brown after Wednesday’s practice, then using his backup 4 as an example. “Less than two weeks ago, Troy (Murphy) was lost as a brand new puppy dog out there, and finally we had two or three contact practices and now it’s to a point where we’re able to teach in a live setting, stop it, redo it four or five times if we have to and it’s paid off for us.”

Take the example of 3-point shooting in the last four contests:

- vs. Charlotte: 12-of-26 (Murphy 4-of-4, bench 10-of-14, Kobe 2-for-2 before nine straight misses)
- at Minnesota: 8-for-19 (Kobe 5-for-9, Murphy 2-for-3)
- at Milwaukee: 6-for-19 (Kobe 1-for-5, Goudelock 3-for-5)
- vs Clippers: 8-for-16 (Fisher 3-of-4)

That’s a total of 34-for-80, or 42.5 percent, which would rank first in the NBA, just ahead of Boston’s 41.5 percent. Due to the uber-slow shooting start, L.A. still has a long way to go, but has already jumped four spots in the past week to rank 26th at 29.4 percent from three.

Brown’s best shooter thus far has been Murphy, a career 39 percent triple sniper who at 6-10 with a quick, direct release almost always gets a good look off. This season, he’s connected on 11 of his 23 attempts to lead the team at 47.8 percent, boosted by that 4-of-4 . Close behind is rookie Andrew Goudelock, who displayed crazy range throughout his career at College of Charleston and has made 10-of-23 triples for L.A. (43.5 percent), helping him reach double figures in scoring off the bench in three of the last four games.

On Wednesday’s “Mason and Ireland” show on 710 ESPN, Murphy said that part of the reason he’s gotten good looks of late is that Goudelock has proven adept at running the pick and roll. Since opponents have to respect Goudelock’s shot, he’s been able to draw an extra defender, and then dish off to an open Murphy, who is quite good at popping off the screen to free himself for a three.

Still more open threes have been created by any one of three Lakers stars who draw double teams, though Andrew Bynum’s ability to do so with a second unit filled with shooters (Goudelock, Murphy, Kapono and Barnes) could be of particular use to L.A., a bit like Orlando tries to operate around Dwight Howard.

Brown figures that the more continuity his players gain being on the court together, the better this aspect of the offense can be. If so, L.A. won’t be ranking 26th in the NBA from 3-point range for much longer.