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Team gets up to speed

LAKERS REPORT

November 17, 2007|Mike Bresnahan | Times Staff Writer

The Lakers' push-the-pace offense has earned two thumbs up from every player on the roster and 103.9 points a game before Friday, good for sixth in the league.

Of course, for every action there's an equal and opposite reaction -- the Lakers were tied for second in the league in turnovers with 18 a game.

Coach Phil Jackson is allowing the Lakers to freelance for several seconds before moving into the triangle offense, but he has not hidden his distaste for errant passes, careless ball-handling and the like.

The message is starting to get through to the players . . . perhaps.

"It's definitely fun," forward Lamar Odom said of the new twist to the offense. "When you're playing at a speed like that, you're going to turn it over. It's new for all of us to be playing at that tempo, but taking care of the ball is something we all have to focus on."

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Thursday was a happy day for NBA players -- it was the first official payday of the season.

In a league where the average salary is $5.4 million, Nov. 15 is a treasured day -- and treasury-like day -- for players who typically get paid a dozen times from November to April, on the 15th and 30th of each month (or the last day in February).

For undrafted rookie Coby Karl, who is making about $425,000, it was a day to remember.

His check initially didn't arrive on time because it was accidentally sent to his mother's home in Idaho. That check was canceled and a new one was issued.

"I've never seen money like that in my pocket," he said. "I'll buy some luggage for some trips and maybe some [holiday] gifts for friends and family. Instead of going into my savings this year, I can actually pay out of my checking account."

Players do not get paid during the exhibition season, although some negotiate advances in their contracts. Players also don't get paid in the playoffs, but some teams begin to receive playoff shares based on how far they go in the postseason.

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Kobe Bryant has come up with highlight material numerous times this season. The difference -- there have been a few more picture-perfect plays on defense.

Bryant had memorable blocked shots on Utah forward Andrei Kirilenko and Houston center Yao Ming.

"He's taken it upon himself to be a one-man defensive show this year," Jackson said. "It's kind of surprising to me. Maybe it was his summer in Las Vegas that did it."

Bryant, a seven-time member of the All-Defensive team, played particularly stellar defense during Team USA's run through the Olympic qualifying tournament in Las Vegas.

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Former Lakers draft pick Cheikh Samb played for Detroit in Friday's game.

Samb, a 7-foot-1 center from Senegal, was with the Lakers momentarily on draft night in 2006 before being traded to the Pistons for forward Maurice Evans. Samb was selected No. 51 overall by the Lakers.

He had two points, four rebounds and two blocked shots in 14 minutes Friday.

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mike.bresnahan@latimes.com

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