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Jackson considers changes

Lakers coach may be ready to alter his lineup after the team's fifth consecutive loss, 108-92, to the 76ers.

March 10, 2007|Mike Bresnahan | Times Staff Writer

PHILADELPHIA — Strangely enough, it started with the Lakers arriving later than planned because of overflow traffic from the Philadelphia Flower Show.

Five hours later, the bloom had fallen so far off their roses that another submissive loss came and went, a winless road trip became official, and Coach Phil Jackson was left to ponder future lineup changes.

The score was as good a place as any to begin, a 108-92 loss Friday to the Philadelphia 76ers at Wachovia Center. That it contributed to another five-game losing streak -- the Lakers' second such skid in a month -- was merely collateral damage for a team that has lost 11 of 14 and fallen to 33-30 overall, its fewest games over .500 since mid-November.

Even more telling: The Lakers have to go 12-7 the rest of the way simply to match last season's 45-37 record.

Another loss to a sub-.500 Eastern Conference team was enough to make Jackson pause for a seeming eternity when asked if changes are in the cards. The culprits were starters Andrew Bynum and Smush Parker, neither of whom made a mark Friday.

Bynum had two points, five rebounds and missed all four of his shots in 33 minutes. Parker continued his wildly inconsistent play, scoring four points on two-for-eight shooting in 28 minutes.

Changes, anyone?

"Maybe," Jackson finally said.

Maybe?

"Andrew didn't get anything accomplished out there tonight," Jackson said. "Andrew needs a break. He needs just to get off the front line and get out of that enemy fire for a while."

Kwame Brown, Bynum's likely replacement in the short term, had 11 points, 10 rebounds and four assists.

Shammond Williams was significantly more impressive than Parker, scoring 14 points on five-for-seven shooting and going turnover-free with two assists in 20 minutes.

"He played well tonight," Jackson said. "He ran out of gas in the second half. I was hoping Smush could go in there and pick it up, but he has trouble re-setting himself after he doesn't get going."

Good news for the Lakers: They finally get to go home after losing to Phoenix, Minnesota, Milwaukee and Philadelphia. Bad news for the Lakers: Dallas, the team with the best record in the league, will be waiting for a Sunday night game.

It's possible the Lakers will get back Ronny Turiaf if his sore back has abated by then. Less likely, Luke Walton will be ready, although Thursday in Denver is the targeted date for his return.

Either way, the Lakers fell to 0-4 without Lamar Odom. Looking further down the road, Vladimir Radmanovic is still at least a month from returning and Chris Mihm remains a longshot to return this season.

In other words, help is not on the way.

Kobe Bryant tried to do it by himself in his first game since a one-game suspension for striking Minnesota guard Marko Jaric in the face. He started off well enough, with 21 points on nine-for-13 shooting as the Lakers took a 57-51 halftime lead.

But he cooled considerably, finishing with 30 points on 12-for-27 shooting and also collecting another rough play, elbowing 76ers forward Kyle Korver in the jaw while dribbling upcourt in the second quarter. No foul was called.

Bryant scolded his teammates during their double-overtime loss to Minnesota, but he looked more calm on the court Friday.

"We don't have guys out there that know the intricacies of the offense," Bryant said with the slightest trace of resignation. "This late in the season, teams are going to overplay you and are going to do things to make you go deeper into your offense. That's when you need that experience from guys who have been in the system to counteract that."

And with that, the Lakers fell down, again. What was once the story of the season -- the Lakers were 26-13 after a mid-January victory in San Antonio -- has become a bouquet of wilting flowers.

"There's a lot of guys that are challenged in a position where they're not able to answer the challenge right now," Jackson said. "Our players wilted underneath that pressure."

*

mike.bresnahan@latimes.com

*

Begin text of infobox

In decline

As the injuries pile up, so have the Lakers' losses:

Month Record

October/November 10-5

December 10-6

January 8-7

February 5-7

March 0-5

Source: NBA

Los Angeles Times

*

KEYS TO THE GAME

* Kobe Bryant made nine of 13 shots in the first half but only three of 14 in the second half on the way to a quiet 30 points.

* Philadelphia point guard Andre Miller drove at will on the Lakers, finishing with 23 points and eight assists.

* Two Lakers starters struggled notably. Andrew Bynum had two points, five rebounds and four turnovers in 33 minutes. Smush Parker had four points on two-for-eight shooting.

-- MIKE BRESNAHAN

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