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LAKERS FYI

To rest or not to rest?

That's the question for the Lakers, who probably won't catch Cavaliers but are trying to stay ahead of Celtics and Magic.

April 02, 2009|Mike Bresnahan

MILWAUKEE — Rest or press onward?

The Lakers are in a strange spot, probably out of the running for the league's best record, but not quite in the clear as far as fending off Boston and Orlando for the second-best record.

Despite the fatigue that seeped into the team the last three games, the Lakers still need to maintain their position in the standings in case they make the NBA Finals and find the Celtics or Magic as an opponent.

"We just don't want to loosen up so much that Boston and Orlando, they also pass us by," Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said.

The Lakers (59-16) have seven games left in the regular season. They are 2 1/2 games behind Cleveland, 2 1/2 games ahead of Boston and 3 1/2 games ahead of Orlando.

Still, they wouldn't mind sneaking in a game or two of rest for starters Pau Gasol, Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher.

Gasol played almost 43 minutes Wednesday against Milwaukee, par for the course for him these days.

"You think?" he said with a trace of sarcasm. "I've been playing quite a bit since Andrew [Bynum] went down. I'm happy to be out there. I like to play and don't like to be sitting on the bench, but at some point, we need to get a little rest, especially when the schedule's so tough."

Then there's the other viewpoint, courtesy of Bryant, who played 38 minutes against the Bucks and doesn't seem to care if he's able to sit out a game or two.

"I don't worry about it," he said. "Lace them up and play. Don't think about resting or nothing like that. Just think about playing."

He doesn't need a break after playing all 75 of the Lakers' games so far?

"Break for what?" he said. "People spend their hard-earned money to come watch us play, I'm going to play."

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mike.bresnahan@latimes.com

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