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LAKERS FYI

Lakers aren't watching Cavaliers ... well, maybe a little

The teams are in hot pursuit of the NBA's best record, but L.A. players insist they aren't monitoring Cleveland's scores from afar. At least, not yet.

March 23, 2009|Mike Bresnahan

CHICAGO — The Lakers aren't sneaking peeks out of the corners of their eyes. They insist they're not checking the out-of-town scoreboard to see how the Cleveland Cavaliers are faring.

But that could be coming up soon.

The Lakers (55-14) remain close to the Cavaliers (57-13) for the league's top record, important for brief bragging rights until the playoffs begin, and then home-court advantage from there on out.

Lakers coaches and players say it's too early to acknowledge watching the Cavaliers, though there are occasional breaches of secrecy.

"We're watching them, obviously, because we're right there neck and neck for the best record," guard Derek Fisher said. "That's a goal of ours, and right now they stand in our way."

More typically, a question about the Cavaliers is met by responses such as this from Kobe Bryant: "I don't really care. . . . I believe we can win anywhere. We want the best record just to say we have the best record, just for the challenge of it."

If the Lakers and Cavaliers tie, the Lakers gain home-court edge because they won both regular-season games against Cleveland.

But they also have the harder task because of their schedule: The Lakers play only five of their final 13 games at home. The Cavaliers play eight of their final 12 at home, where they are 32-1.

For now, the Lakers will watch the Cavaliers from afar . . . even if they don't admit to being interested in them.

"If their game's on, I'll watch it just for entertainment, but not really," Bryant said.

Reserves resurrected

How much did the Lakers like seeing these postgame quotes from the Chicago Bulls?

From Coach Vinny Del Negro: "Their second team bothered us."

And from guard Ben Gordon: "Their second unit is not an average second unit. They got the job done while Kobe was over there resting."

Indeed, the reserves finally made an impact in a 117-109 Lakers victory Saturday with a 21-6 run to start the fourth quarter.

Jordan Farmar broke out of a slump with 13 points, eight in the fourth quarter.

"Jordan's a kid that can play, and his season is about valleys and peaks," forward Lamar Odom said.

"It's going to happen like that. Hopefully, he's peaking right now and getting away from those valleys."

More Cavaliers, please

The chant began near the end of the fourth quarter against Chicago, another "M-V-P" chorus for Bryant in another city.

But can he beat Cavaliers forward LeBron James for the actual award honors?

Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said he wasn't sure who would get the nod.

"I haven't chosen one yet, to be honest with you," Jackson said. "I have a favorite, and that's Kobe, but I think LeBron's having some year. You have to really give him a lot of credit."

The award is determined by a vote of about 125 media members and is typically announced between the first and second rounds of the playoffs.

--

mike.bresnahan@latimes.com

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