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Gasol-Bynum pairing needs work

October 10, 2008|Mike Bresnahan | Times Staff Writer

FRESNO -- So this is why there's an exhibition season.

The Lakers were thumped by the Clippers, 107-80, a more noteworthy event if the game actually counted, though there were still concerns on the Lakers' side after their second exhibition.

Mainly, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum weren't effective together in the front court Thursday at Save Mart Center.

The Lakers were outplayed by the undermanned Clippers during the nine awkward minutes Gasol and Bynum were in the lineup at the same time. Gasol had four points and Bynum one point during that stretch, though it wasn't from lack of trying.

On one play, Gasol tried to pass to Bynum for an alley-oop dunk, but the ball bounced off the front of the rim.

It all came with Clippers power forward Marcus Camby sidelined because of recent flu-like symptoms. Bynum and Gasol went up primarily against Chris Kaman and Tim Thomas.

"We have to figure out how we're going to do [this] together," Gasol said. "We have to bring more intensity out there and bring more intimidation -- dominate more in rebounds and stuff. We lose speed, but we should gain in strength and size."

Bynum finished with six points and nine rebounds in 21 minutes.

Gasol had 12 points and one rebound in 16 minutes.

When Gasol was the first of the two to get position down low, Bynum drifted too far from the basket, a point the Lakers will try to clean up.

Bynum again sat at the start of the game, though he started the third quarter in place of Trevor Ariza.

Lamar Odom continued his slow start, going scoreless with one assist and three turnovers in 16 minutes.

Lakers Coach Phil Jackson declined to specify which players he thought played poorly Thursday night.

"I'm not naming names," he said.

When asked about Odom, Jackson said he wasn't concerned.

"He'll find his way," he said.

That other skirmish

Forget Jackson vs. Odom, if only for a day.

There's another battle in the exhibition season, this one at the end of the Lakers' bench.

Coby Karl, DJ Mbenga and rookie Joe Crawford are fighting for a roster spot . . . perhaps.

The Lakers already have 13 players they'll take into the regular season, and they haven't decided if they'll carry another player on their roster, which means Karl, Mbenga and Crawford might not be with them this season.

The Lakers have carried the league-maximum 15 players the last few years, but they hope to maintain flexibility by carrying only 13 or 14 this season. Not to mention that they're already several million dollars over the luxury-tax threshold, which means more taxes if they decide to keep Karl, Mbenga or Crawford.

Final cuts will take place by Oct. 27. (Undrafted rookies Brandon Heath and CJ Giles are also on the Lakers' training camp roster, though they are considered longshots to make the team.)

Karl averaged 1.8 points in 17 games as an undrafted rookie last season. An undrafted rookie before last season, he has the advantage of a full year's experience in the Lakers' system.

"I feel confident that I belong here," he said. "It's a long month of proving yourself. It's a long career of doing that. Last year helped, getting to know the players and the system and the coaches."

Mbenga averaged 2.5 points in 26 games after being picked up by the Lakers midway through last season, though free agent Josh Powell has had a bigger impact down low in the exhibition season.

Crawford, who played at Kentucky, was the third-to-last pick in this year's draft and faced long odds simply by being selected that late.

The 13 players the Lakers plan to take into the regular season are Kobe Bryant, Derek Fisher, Jordan Farmar, Luke Walton, Vladimir Radmanovic, Sasha Vujacic, Chris Mihm, Sun Yue, Odom, Bynum, Gasol, Ariza and Powell.

The Lakers like the energy under the boards supplied by Powell, who averaged 5.5 points and 5.2 rebounds in 64 games with the Clippers last season.

Sun, who has been battling mononucleosis, could end up playing for the Lakers' Development League affiliate, the D-Fenders.

Injury update

Vujacic did not make the trip for Thursday's game because of soreness in his sprained left ankle. He practiced Wednesday but felt pain afterward and went for an MRI exam Thursday. Test results are expected to be released today.

Sun had been held out of the team's first exhibition, but he played eight scoreless minutes against the Clippers.


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