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LAKERS FYI

Lakers Coach Phil Jackson says 'guys are tired,' but that's common

'It's just the sway and swing of the year,' he says, while adding he is troubled the team has been 'outworked' in the last two games, both losses.

March 03, 2009|Broderick Turner

The Lakers have played 60 games this season, most of them at a high level, good enough for the best record in the NBA at 48-12.

But there has been some slippage in their play the last two games, losses on the road in Denver and Phoenix, and the Lakers' defense was lacking.

Lakers Coach Phil Jackson noted after practice Monday that the "guys are tired" from an intense, grueling season that eventually takes a toll on every team.

"It's just the sway and swing of the year," Jackson said. "My real problem with our performances the last two games was I thought teams outworked us. And that's something that you can't have."

The Lakers have 22 regular-season games left, enough time to collect themselves and find the resolve to push through the rest of the season.

"Obviously, fatigue is a factor during the season," said Pau Gasol, who was named the Western Conference's player of the month for February for helping the Lakers to a 11-2 record in that period, averaging 20.9 points on 58.6% shooting and 10.9 rebounds.

"At some point you notice it more than others. It's not an excuse, but you kind of feel it, everybody feels it. We can't afford any more slips. That's just the way it is."

The Lakers play only twice more this week, tonight against the Memphis Grizzlies at Staples Center and Friday night at home against the Minnesota Timberwolves.

That should help in allowing the Lakers the time to recover mentally and physically before they play 10 of their next 13 games on the road.

"We're going to need a rested team as we go through," Jackson said.

Something in reserve

Frequently when Jackson has his second unit on the court, Gasol plays with the group, although it has struggled in recent games.

Gasol said the reserves, a strong unit that has been considered one of the best in the NBA, need to understand their roles.

"Some nights points are going to be needed," Gasol said. "It's a matter of understanding that and just doing what's best for the team and sacrificing yourself sometime, which some players are more willing to do and for some players it's a little harder for them to understand."

Dental update

Kobe Bryant, who had one of his front teeth loosened after he was elbowed in the mouth by Phoenix's Leandro Barbosa in the third quarter of Sunday's game, saw the team dentist after the team arrived in Los Angeles that night.

He had a splint placed across his two front teeth. Bryant will play tonight, but he probably won't wear the splint during the game.

Mihm sidelined

Former Lakers center Chris Mihm will not play tonight against his old team because of persistent ankle pain.

Mihm, traded from the Lakers to Memphis almost two weeks ago, has been consulting ankle specialists and has not practiced or played for the Grizzlies.

The Lakers paid a large majority of Mihm's remaining salary when he was traded -- about $800,000 -- but they will save money on the deal because his full salary of $2.5 million will not count against their luxury-tax threshold, sparing them a $2.5-million luxury-tax charge on his contract at the end of the season.

Mihm was sent to the Grizzlies for a 2013 second-round pick that would become the Lakers' property only if Memphis finished with one of the top five records in the 2012-13 season.

Mihm has had surgery on his right ankle twice in the last three years.

Etc.

Jackson said the Lakers "definitely" will talk about acquiring free-agent forwards Drew Gooden and Joe Smith and guard Luther Head.

But reports are that Gooden, bought out by Sacramento, may sign with San Antonio and Smith, bought out by Oklahoma City, will sign with Cleveland.

The Lakers, who have 14 players on their roster, one short of the league maximum, already have five guards and probably won't need to sign Head.

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Times staff writer Mike Bresnahan contributed to this report.

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broderick.turner@latimes.com

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