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LAKERS FYI

Jordan Farmar shows improvement

He is setting up the offense, shooting better and playing effective defense. That means more minutes for the reserve point guard.

December 09, 2009|By Broderick Turner

The signs indicate that things have begun to click for Lakers reserve guard Jordan Farmar.

In recent games Farmar has resisted the temptation to go right back and score on his opposing point guard who attacked him, as he has done for his career, to the dismay of the Lakers' coaching staff.

Instead, Farmar has pulled back and set up the offense. He has settled the Lakers' second team down and looked to be a facilitator. There also has been improvement in his defense.

"I'm just more at peace, really, with my job and my role right now at this stage of my career," Farmar, 23, said recently. "In the future things may change. I may get more of an opportunity, but I'm here to try and help this team win a championship."

For the season, Farmar is playing 17.7 minutes and averaging 6.8 points on 40.8% shooting. In his last five games, he is averaging 19.4 minutes and 10.8 points on 56.7% shooting.

"He's playing better on the offensive end and on the defensive end," assistant coach Brian Shaw said. "I think a lot of it is just a direct result of putting more effort into it. I'd still like to see him pick up the opposing team's point guards a little bit more consistently [on defense]."

There were moments earlier this season when Farmar wasn't getting the minutes, when he sat for long stretches. Against Oklahoma City, he played eight minutes.

But lately Farmar, a four-year veteran, has changed his approach. "That's my job, to direct traffic, to run the offense," he said.

Farmar is in the final year of a contract that pays him $1.9 million. He was disillusioned when the Lakers didn't offer him a contract extension before the season, meaning he'll be a restricted free agent this summer.

"I think Jordan got kind of a second wind this season - even though it's early - in realizing he's got to be aggressive out there and he's got to do things that exhibit his skills," Coach Phil Jackson said.

Lakers' practice lively

Shannon Brown stood at the free-throw line with seven seconds left during a scrimmage Tuesday, his second team holding one-point lead over Kobe Bryant's first team. Before Brown shot his free throw, Bryant pointed to blood on Brown's forearm.

Brown wiped it away, but it was Bryant's way of trying to freeze Brown.

It worked. Brown missed the free throws, leaving the game still in doubt.

The first team of Bryant, Farmar, Derek Fisher, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum called a timeout and huddled up next to Jackson.

Bryant got the ball, squared up and drilled a jumper over Sasha Vujacic, giving the first team a 45-44 victory.

"The second team was talking a lot of trash," Bryant said. "They had a 13-point lead with four minutes to go and somehow found a way to lose it. Good."

Walton gets the mike

Lakers radio color commentator Mychal Thompson will miss two games because his mother, Marriett, 87, died in his native Bahamas. Thompson will be at tonight's game against the Jazz at Staples Center, but will miss Friday night's game here against Minnesota and Saturday night's game in Utah to attend funeral services in the Bahamas.

Thompson will be replaced by injured forward Luke Walton, who has been out with a back injury. Thompson expects to be back for the Lakers game in Chicago Tuesday.

Also, Lakers television commentator Stu Lantz will miss six games from Dec. 11-20 because his wife, Linda, is having surgery. "Hot" Rod Hundley, who retired after 35 seasons as the voice of the Jazz, will replace Lantz.

broderick.turner@latimes.com

twitter.com/BA_Turner

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