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Gasol, Bynum get a lesson in length

Lakers' 7-footers go up against Raptors' big men O'Neal (6-11) and Bosh (6-10) in exhibition win.

October 20, 2008|Broderick Turner | Times Staff Writer

Though it was just an exhibition, there was a matchup that created some interest in the game between the Lakers and Toronto Raptors on Sunday night in the "shootout" at Staples Center.

The Lakers have the Twin Tower pair of 7-footers Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum that faced the Toronto big-man tandem of 6-10 Chris Bosh and 6-11 Jermaine O'Neal.

For the Lakers' pair that still is a work in progress, this was a gauge for them, an opportunity for Gasol and Bynum to see how they would fare against two talented frontcourt players.

"They are very good low-post players," Gasol said. "It's a challenge to guard them."

Gasol and Bynum held their own, doing their thing in helping the Lakers to a 112-89 victory.

Gasol had seven points and seven rebounds; Bynum nine points and four rebounds.

"It's great gauge," Bynum said. "There definitely are two All-Stars players on the other side. It's definitely a good test."

O'Neal is a six-time All-Star seeking to return to form after playing in only 42 games last season with Indiana because of an assortment of injuries. O'Neal, acquired by the Raptors from the Pacers in July, had 12 points and four rebounds.

Bosh is a three-time All-Star who was a member of the U.S. Olympic team that won the gold medal. He had 11 points and 11 rebounds.

"Both of those players have been All-Stars so they certainly are top-notch players in this league individually," Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said.

"How they [Bynum and Gasol] play them defensively I think is real important for us."

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High expectations

The bar was raised for the Lakers because they lost to the Boston Celtics in the NBA Finals, many predicting the Lakers to win the championship this season.

Jackson made practice changes because of those expectations.

Normally, Jackson said, he doesn't have many two-a-day practices.

But this training camp, Jackson had six two-a-day practices, the maximum allowed by the NBA.

"This year we had two-a-days and that was basically to get them back to the idea that this is hard work," Jackson said. "It's not anything you can take for granted.

"It's a very difficult process, especially going through the teams we have to go through to get to the Finals here in the West.

"The idea that home-court advantage is an important aspect through the playoffs is something that lingers in our mind."

The Lakers had home-court advantage throughout the Western Conference, but the Celtics had the best record in the NBA and had home court for the entire playoffs.

The Lakers lost Game 6 in Boston.

The goal this season is for the Lakers to secure the best record in the NBA.

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Sasha update

Lakers guard Sasha Vujacic, expected to sit out basketball activities for 10 to 14 days while he recovered from a left ankle injury, said he would practice today.

Vujacic has been diagnosed with an avulsion fracture of his ankle in which a small thin layer of the bone flaked off and embedded in the tissue.

Vujacic had hoped to return within a week, but it looks like he'll come back one day sooner than he expected.

He said his goal is to play in the final exhibition Friday against Oklahoma City so he can be ready for the season opener Oct. 28 at home against Portland.

Vujacic suffered a sprained left ankle the day training camp opened more than two weeks ago and that aggravated the avulsion fracture.

"I heal fast and tomorrow I'm going to try to do a little bit in practice and see how it goes and hopefully be able to play in the last preseason game," said Vujacic, who mentioned that he has been doing conditioning drills in the swimming pool and on the bike.

"I just want to test it."

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broderick.turner@latimes.com

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