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Being on TNT Not Exactly Dynamite

April 08, 2006|Mike Bresnahan | Times Staff Writer

PHOENIX — Laker Coach Phil Jackson has devoted plenty of time to tweaking the referees, Dallas Maverick owner Mark Cuban, and the referees again (and again) for good measure.

He turned his attention to another target: TV.

The Lakers have played the second game of TNT's Thursday night doubleheader eight times this season. They are almost always late nights -- the second game of the doubleheader often starts later than expected, and the TV timeouts are excruciatingly long. The Lakers have then followed TNT Thursdays with a game the next day on five occasions.

The Lakers' 110-108 overtime loss to Denver ended at 11:50 p.m. Thursday in Colorado. The Lakers then boarded their charter jet to Phoenix, arriving at 3 a.m.

"There's games you lose to attrition to the NBA scheduling. It's as simple as that," Jackson said. "We don't like to think the NBA Thursday night's going to be that way, but it hasn't been easy to do. It hasn't really worked out well, especially for the teams in the West that have to play the late game."

The Lakers are 4-4 on TNT Thursdays and 1-4 in games the next day.


The Lakers apparently did not roll out all their tricks Friday against the Suns, a possible first-round opponent if the Lakers make the playoffs.

"I'll hold my secret weapon out -- Von Wafer," Jackson said jokingly.

Wafer, a rookie, actually will be sent back down to the Development League soon, Jackson said. Wafer averaged eight points in eight games last month with the Fort Worth Flyers.

"They have playoffs coming up," Jackson said. "We'd like him to have that experience too, if he has the chance."


Jackson demoted the members of the media from their usual place in the "fifth estate," as he likes to say, when asked about the tight race for the most-valuable-player award.

"Just from the questions I get from the sundry 15th estate -- you've moved down a few notches -- I would say they're having a hard time making up their mind," Jackson said. "I don't think Shaq's in the running, though."


There's always this approach to playing against Kobe Bryant:

"When you play Kobe, you got to pray before the game and just hope he has a bad shooting game, a bad game," Denver forward Reggie Evans said after the Nuggets' overtime victory. "That's the only thing we can do to stop the man. You're not going to stop him."

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