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Bad habit isn't breaking them

November 30, 2008|Broderick Turner | Turner is a Times staff writer.

Down 12 points to the Dallas Mavericks on Friday night, the Lakers seemingly pushed the button that sent them into overdrive.

Muddling along against the New Jersey Nets, the Lakers seemingly turned on the switch that snapped them back to life.

None of them seemed worried about what has become a frequent habit of rallying to win games after sluggish moments.

The end result is all that matters to them, and that has been win after win after win after win.

"It's good to know every game is winnable," Lamar Odom said after practice Saturday. "So we're down 10, with seven minutes left, six minutes left, we know that we can come back and win that game. Is that a position that we want to be in every game? Of course not. We want to beat the team by as many points as possible."

The Lakers are 13-1, so there really shouldn't be much to complain about, Odom said, smiling. They are not trying to win style points.

"Our goal is to win every quarter, every possession that we play," Odom said. "With that said, we want to win every game possible. Some teams you are going to get beat [by]."

So far, the only team to defeat the Lakers is the Detroit Pistons.

"If we come out flat, other teams, they probably should take advantage of us, try to like stomp us out," Odom said.

Odom slapped his hands together to indicate how opponents would like to smash the Lakers.

The Toronto Raptors (8-7) will give it a try tonight when they face the Lakers at Staples Center.

"Because of the success of our team, teams are going to be gunning for us," Odom said. "They are going to be coming out throwing their best punches. You know what I'm saying? It's not like we're sneaking up on anybody anymore. They are going to be throwing their best punches so we've got to be prepared for their best games."

The Lakers are off to their best start since the 2001-02 season, when they won 16 of their first 17 games.

"We just need to stay more focused," center Andrew Bynum said.

"We're able to turn it on with great play. So far it's been working for us, but that's not the way we need to be doing things."

Gasol a stopper?

Pau Gasol is not known as a defensive player, but he has been solid for the Lakers.

Gasol has the length to alter and block shots. He has shown himself to be athletic enough at power forward to move his feet on defense and keep his man in front of him.

"He gives us another dimension," Coach Phil Jackson said. "He's usually really good against the screen-and-roll. He can also come out and play the shooters on a certain part of the floor."

Injury update

The Lakers felt the day after Bynum played with an injured right foot was going to be a big key for the 21-year-old center.

Bynum didn't practice Saturday after playing 36 minutes Friday night against Dallas despite the foot injury, suffered Tuesday against the Nets when a small bone spur chipped off the foot, causing irritation and inflammation. But he will play tonight.

Bynum, who had 18 points and 10 rebounds in the 114-107 win over the Mavericks, said the injury felt no better, but no worse.

Chris Mihm, who missed Friday's game because of a sprained left ankle, went through some half-court drills Saturday, but nothing full court.

Jackson said the team will decide today whether Mihm can play.



Lakers tonight


Time: 6:30.

On the air: TV: Fox Sports West; Radio: 570, 1130.

Where: Staples Center.

Records: Lakers 13-1, Raptors 8-7.

Record vs. Toronto (2007-08): 2-0.

Update: Kobe Bryant needs to score 38 points tonight to become the youngest player in NBA history to reach 22,000 for his career. If Bryant does it, it would be at 30 years 99 days, just ahead of Wilt Chamberlain, who did it at 30 years 100 days. Bryant's scoring has been down this season -- he's averaging 24.5 points per game -- because the Lakers have so much offensive firepower, and he is playing fewer minutes. But it is worth remembering that Bryant did score his career high of 81 points against the Raptors on Jan. 22, 2006. Raptors center Jermaine O'Neal has sat out the last two games because of a sprained left ankle and is listed as a game-time decision. But O'Neal told the Toronto media he plans on playing tonight.

-- Broderick Turner

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