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It's time for Lakers to rest and refocus

Most of the team is on a break until Monday because of the All-Star game. Coaches remind players of what's ahead.

February 13, 2009|Broderick Turner

Someone from the Lakers' staff wrote a message on the grease board inside of the team's locker room Wednesday night with reminders of what lies ahead.

It was very matter-of-fact, something to get their attention after a tough loss to the Utah Jazz at EnergySolutions Arena.

"30 more . . . 42-10 . . . 1 p.m. Monday."

The 30 is how many games the Lakers have left in the regular season. The 42-10 is the Lakers' record, which is the best in the NBA. And 1 p.m. Monday is when they all must reconvene for practice.

The Lakers have played their last game before breaking for this weekend's All-Star game in Phoenix.

Most of their players, with the exception of All-Stars Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol, have four days off before they practice again. The Lakers play their first game of the second half Tuesday night against the Atlanta Hawks at Staples Center.

During this down time, Lakers Coach Phil Jackson instructed his players to relax, to take their minds off basketball, to rest and recover.

"Just have a good time," Jackson said. "Enjoy, relax a little bit and get healthy. Just stay away from basketball for a couple of days."

The attrition of playing eight games in 13 days, with seven of them on the road, finally appeared to take a toll on the Lakers against the Jazz.

"Yeah, we need to rest," Lamar Odom said. "I'm beat up. It's a long season. The grind doesn't stop. I'll do my maintenance during the All-Star break and get in the gym and shoot some free throws."

Besides Bryant and Gasol, who will play for the West in the All-Star game Sunday, Jackson and his staff will coach the West All-Stars.

Derek Fisher is the president of the NBA Players' Assn. and he will attend meetings in Phoenix.

Trevor Ariza and Jordan Farmar are the team's player representatives and will also be in Phoenix for meetings.

"Sure they want us to relax and have fun," Ariza said. "But I don't think we can have fun. . . . Well, I can't have fun losing like we just lost. You try to forget about it. . . . But I'm going to go get in the gym."

The Lakers were on such a high, after a 6-0 trip that included wins at Boston and Cleveland, that losing in Salt Lake left some of them on a downer.

Still, the Lakers are an NBA-best 18-6 on the road.

"I hate losing," Ariza said. "I don't care who it's to or what it's in. I just don't like to lose. Like if my brother beats me in checkers or something, I'm looking to fight him."

Said Odom: "We expect to win every game we play. . . . So it makes you think about the games you let slip away."

Bryant smiled when told how his young teammates felt about losing.

"It's good that they have that spirit, that competitive spirit," Bryant said. "But not to take a loss and hold on to it too long. You can't get too hard on yourself because then you don't play your best basketball."

Fisher has seen how the Lakers endured after losing center Andrew Bynum to a torn medial collateral ligament in his right knee and yet kept winning.

"I guess like anything else when you're trying to climb to the top, sometimes you slip and you stumble a little bit," Fisher said. "The difference in the teams and the people that become champions is that they get back up and keep climbing and keep moving. I think we're learning how to do that."


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