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LAKER REPORT

Trust Is the Thrust of Bryant's Theme

March 22, 2005|Mike Bresnahan | Times Staff Writer

It was just another typical day in Lakerland, where Kobe Bryant vowed to trust teammates more often, Frank Hamblen acknowledged he balked at taking the coaching job in the first place, and Lamar Odom was neither in nor out officially for Thursday's game against the Denver Nuggets, very possibly the Lakers' last stand in a rapidly unraveling season.

Odom was diagnosed with a slight labrum tear and bruised rotator cuff in his left shoulder, and is listed as day-to-day, much like the Lakers as a whole these days.

Odom will not play tonight against the Utah Jazz but hopes to be ready for the Nuggets, who are 3 1/2 games ahead of the Lakers for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

"I'm aiming for Denver," Odom said as he carried a large box of athletic shoes to his car.

Odom, who sat out Sunday's loss to the Seattle SuperSonics, was hurt Friday against the Indiana Pacers.

Meanwhile, Bryant said he would try to be more trusting a day after Hamblen said the Lakers were "out of whack" in the triangle offense because Bryant had been too aggressive in trying to get his hands on the ball.

"I'm going to trust the offense and trust my teammates and that they'll be able to get me the ball in positions where I'll be effective," Bryant said.

The coaching staff feels Bryant's over-aggressiveness has distorted the flow of the triangle and confused teammates who are still trying to digest the complex scheme.

"It's still a process where guys are trying to fit in with him and learn what he's doing," Hamblen said. "He has to be careful. He has to kind of walk a tightrope to some degree because he knows the triangle, he knows different things that they don't know yet and haven't been exposed to. You can't do things that they haven't done yet or haven't seen yet because then they're standing around scratching their head."

The predicament of the Lakers, lodged in 10th place in the West, has Hamblen scratching his head, too.

"I went through a similar situation 14,15 years ago in Milwaukee," said Hamblen, who went 23-42 with the Bucks after taking over on an interim basis in December 1991. "To be honest with you, that's one of the reasons why I balked at taking the job because I knew what was going to happen. I knew what it entailed. I've been there before and it's not a pleasant experience at times."

*

Center Vlade Divac, out since undergoing back surgery in early January, took part in a scrimmage Monday and said he was on schedule to return in the first few days of April. ... Bryant, on the Laker season: "We're rebuilding. We put together a team with a lot of young players. We lost our coaching staff. We've had injuries ... I missed 14 games. It's been a grueling season."

TONIGHT

at Utah, 6, Channel 9

Site -- Delta Center.

Radio -- 570; 1330.

Records -- Lakers 32-34; Jazz 20-46.

Record vs. Jazz -- 1-2.

Update -- Utah has lost nine consecutive games without power forward Carlos Boozer, who was averaging team highs of 17.8 points and nine rebounds before sustaining a strained right foot. Utah hasn't scored more than 100 points since a 109-102 loss to Boston on Feb. 25.

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