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Bryant ready for a vacation

February 12, 2009|Broderick Turner

SALT LAKE CITY — The question caused Kobe Bryant to pause.

He was asked about his feelings of having Shaquille O'Neal as a teammate again on the Western Conference All-Star team.

The two last were teammates in 2004, when the Lakers lost in the NBA Finals to the Detroit Pistons. Soon after, O'Neal was shipped off to the Miami Heat in a trade before he was acquired by the Phoenix Suns last season.

"Are you kidding me?" Bryant responded. "I haven't given it any thought. It's going to be a fun little vacation for me."

When media day is held Friday in Phoenix, Bryant and O'Neal probably will be asked about their past dealings often.

"Ask Phil about it. Don't ask me about it," Bryant said.

Lakers Coach Phil Jackson coached both players and was happy to address the Bryant and O'Neal reunion.

"They'll have a lot of fun. There will be a lot of jocularity because that's what Shaq is about," Jackson said. "On the court, we'll run screen rolls for them."

Derek Fisher, a teammate of O'Neal and Bryant for eight years, figured it would be a loose atmosphere for both of them. "Both guys have accomplished a great deal since 2004," Fisher said. "If they can't have a good time at the All-Star game, then I'll take one of their places. That's how I feel about that."

Odom finding his game

Lamar Odom sounds more at ease now that he is starting again.

His game has taken on a more aggressive tone since Andrew Bynum went down because of a torn ligament in his right knee seven games ago.

To hear Odom talk, he seems to be at peace with how to play the game.

And it was evident again Wednesday night against the Utah Jazz, when Odom collected a season-high in rebounds for the third consecutive game, when he produced his third straight double-double, 19 points and 19 rebounds.

"I'm just going out there and playing, meditating before the game, put myself in the moment," Odom said. "That's allowing me just to make play after play after play. If I don't make a play, I try to erase it. I feel good about my game."

Minutes hard to get

Sometime after the All-Star break, Jackson will see if he can find a way to use his two new players, Adam Morrison and Shannon Brown, both of whom were acquired from the Charlotte Bobcats for Vladimir Radmanovic.

The problem is that Jackson already has a set rotation and a deep bench, one many consider the best in the NBA.

Morrison was activated for Wednesday night's game but didn't play.

"His shooting ability makes for end-of-quarter opportunities like that, that he might get a shot in an open-floor situation where a breakdown might happen and guys hit him for a shot," Jackson said. "Those are things that right now we think he could help us with.

"We're trying to play four guards and Shannon is the fifth wheel in that situation. As we start to play, we'll see how he works out with those guys."


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