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Jackson lives in moment

January 10, 2007|Mike Bresnahan | Times Staff Writer

MEMPHIS, TENN. — Phil Jackson isn't exactly chasing 1,000 victories.

He's having fun with a team that has been cruising for most of the season, but he won't look too far past next season, the last year of his three-year, $30-million contract.

He became the fastest NBA coach to amass 900 career victories after Sunday's win over Dallas, but another 100 is a lot for him to comprehend.

"Jeez, if it was just one season, I could think about it," he said. "Can you win 82 games next year?"

Lakers owner Jerry Buss gave Jackson, 61, the equivalent of a blank check before the season, saying that, "if he wants to coach longer, then we'll certainly want to have him."

Jackson could choose not to coach next season, but he is thoroughly enjoying a majority of what has unfolded before him this season (not including Tuesday's incomprehensible loss to lowly Memphis).

His hip-replacement surgery has been rated a success, even though he still undergoes physical therapy two or three times a week, and he probably will have his other hip replaced after the season, further increasing his long-term comfort level.

Another season after next could be possible, but, as usual, Jackson just won't look much beyond today.

"How well can I provide the energy that a coach has to provide?" he asked contemplatively. "Hopefully, this team continues to grow."


The Lakers are planning on Lamar Odom's return before their eight-game trip that begins Jan. 30 in New York.

Sidelined since Dec. 12 because of a sprained right knee, Odom has begun shooting and doing individual drills.

"Right now, he's right at a real critical stage, where now he's starting to do on-court work and moving around, shooting jump shots and doing some slides," Jackson said. "Now it's, 'What happens?' Does he recover on a daily basis? Does he get swelling?"

Ideally, Jackson wants Odom to begin practicing with the team during a period where they have three days between games, Jan. 23-25.

"There's no disappointment," Jackson said. "We're just watching him progress. We're happy that we think he's going to be back inside of this month and that we can count on him to be back and help us when he gets back, and at that time, we'll rejoice at his return."

The Lakers are 9-6 since Odom was injured.

"We miss him a lot," Kobe Bryant said. "We're not the most talented team in the league. A lot of things that we do, we rely on our offense. When he's out there playing, that steps our talent level up tremendously because now you've got two players who can handle the basketball."


at Houston, 5:30 PST, Channel 9

Site -- Toyota Center.

Radio -- 570; 1330.

Records -- Lakers 23-12; Rockets 22-13.

Record vs. Rockets -- 2-0.

Update -- The Rockets are 6-2 since center Yao Ming was sidelined because of a broken bone in his leg. He is out at least six more weeks. Tracy McGrady is averaging 34.3 points in the last six games.

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