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Jackson playing lineup roulette

October 19, 2008|Broderick Turner | Times Staff Writer

It was the fourth exhibition game for the Lakers, another chance to make strides as they prepare for the regular-season opener Oct. 28 at home against the Portland Trail Blazers.

The Lakers played Regal FC Barcelona on Saturday night in the "shootout" at Staples Center and Coach Phil Jackson had a few things he wanted his team to accomplish.

"Exhibit our talent," Jackson said, smiling.

For Lakers forward Pau Gasol, the game had more meaning. He played five seasons with FC Barcelona and still lives in the Spanish city where he was born.

Gasol wanted to win the game, which the Lakers did, 108-104, before 14,572 fans. Tonight at 7:30 the Lakers will play the Toronto Raptors, who defeated the Clippers, 93-89, in the first game Saturday. Barcelona will play the Clippers today at 4:30.

Gasol, who had 13 points, entertained the Barcelona players over the weekend, but he still wanted them to taste defeat.

Kobe Bryant did his part to make sure the Lakers improved to 2-2 in the preseason by scoring 28 points on 10-for-14 shooting, and getting six steals.

Juan Carlos Navarro, Gasol's teammate on Spain's Olympic silver medal-winning team in Beijing and in the NBA last season with Memphis, was the game's leading scorer with 34 points. He made seven of 13 three-point attempts.

Bryant, Derek Fisher, Vladimir Radmanovic, Gasol and Andrew Bynum started for the Lakers on Saturday. But in the first two games, Lamar Odom and Trevor Ariza started instead of Bynum and Radmanovic.

With that in mind, Jackson was asked whether he'll have a set starting lineup this season.

"I don't know," Jackson said. "That's not a concern of mine."

It might be a concern to the players.

"It shouldn't be," Jackson said. "It's who finishes games that's important."

Asked whether his players understand that concept, Jackson said, "I don't know. But I don't care if they understand or not."

Jackson said he hasn't defined all the roles just yet. He'll spend time this week doing that after the Lakers trim their roster.

Jackson said the Lakers probably will cut their roster from 18 to the league maximum of 15 by Tuesday, or by Thursday at the latest.


Mbenga working hard

No one has told DJ Mbenga that he is assured of making the team, so he continues to work hard in practice and exhibition games.

But the coaching staff and management like Mbenga, and that is a strong indication that he probably will make the team.

"I'm just working hard, trying to do my best," Mbenga said. "Coach hasn't told me anything. I'm just going to do my best."

Mbenga signed two 10-day contracts with the Lakers last season as a free agent before he was signed for the rest of the season. He re-signed just before training camp opened, giving the team another big man.

Mbenga is one of four players the Lakers have who can play center. Bynum, Gasol and Chris Mihm are the others.

"I'm just going to see what happens," Mbenga said. "But I'm ready to go."


Around the rim

Luke Walton played in his first exhibition after missing the first three games while recovering from right ankle surgery. He was scoreless in 18 minutes, missing all four of his shots.


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