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LAKERS REPORT

Jackson sees no easy way out

January 04, 2008|Mike Bresnahan | Times Staff Writer

The Lakers play six of their next seven games against teams with losing records, an obvious stretch to pad their record as they gradually recover from the shellacking by Boston on Sunday.

Maybe.

A similar string of games last season would have sent them running into the hills, screaming about the surprising toughness of the Charlotte Bobcats or the remarkable ruthlessness of the Milwaukee Bucks (both teams swept them).

The Lakers definitely had their troubles with losing teams a year ago, also getting swept by New York and managing to lose two of three against Portland. Not to mention their bland 2-2 mark against Memphis, which finished with the league's worst record (22-60).

It's never a good thing to be under .500 against sub-.500 teams, so please excuse Coach Phil Jackson when the topic of a breezy couple of weeks is brought up.

"Don't put that thought in their heads," he said Thursday, feigning disgust.

The Lakers (19-11) begin their turn at an allegedly easy part of the schedule tonight at home against Philadelphia (14-18). Then comes Indiana (15-18), a quick two-game trip to Memphis (9-22) and New Orleans (21-11), home games against Milwaukee (12-19) and Memphis, and a road game at Seattle (9-22).

Piece of cake, no?

Again, don't ask Jackson.

"We last year notoriously were not effective against teams under .500," he said. "I don't like to look at things that way right now. I'm trying to keep these young players on an even keel so that they play hard every game."

The players didn't seem to want to peer too far into the future either.

"We've had a tough schedule this first quarter of the season or whatever it was," Kobe Bryant said. "We've had some heavy hitters. The important thing for us is to really focus on one game and try to build energy for the team every single game."

Forward Vladimir Radmanovic sprained his right ankle during Thursday's practice. He is day to day. . . . Ronny Turiaf will probably start tonight in place of Lamar Odom, who is serving a one-game suspension for a flagrant foul on Boston guard Ray Allen. Turiaf is averaging 6.2 points and 3.7 rebounds a game, although he hasn't played more than 13 minutes in a game since Dec. 13 against San Antonio.

TONIGHT

vs. Philadelphia, 7:30, FSN West

Site -- Staples Center.

Radio -- 570, 1330.

Records -- Lakers 19-11, 76ers 14-18.

Record vs. 76ers -- 1-0.

Update -- Andrew Bynum was dominant in the Lakers' 106-101 victory Dec. 21 in Philadelphia, scoring 24 points on 10-for-11 shooting and taking 11 rebounds. The 76ers have been playing better since losing to the Lakers, winning four of five before falling Wednesday in Utah, 110-107. This is the fifth game of a six-game trip for the 76ers.

mike.bresnahan@latimes.com

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