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Play of the subs is sub-par again

Bench is dominated by the Pistons and Nets, but they were two more road victories.

March 29, 2009|Mike Bresnahan

ATLANTA — Second-rate, once again.

There are so few areas to criticize in a Lakers season that has trended impressively upward, but the second unit has again pumped its brakes after a couple of games of renewed vigor.

The Lakers' reserves were heavily outscored by those of the New Jersey Nets, 38-12, in a tighter-than-expected 103-95 Lakers victory Friday.

"This is a tale that's been told many times over this season, not enough that we're having a bad season, but we're just relieving our starters right now," Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said.

"We're not playing with the guys coming off the bench. They're not playing the game that we want to play."

They were last week in Chicago, providing a 27-point effort in a 117-109 victory. They did fine in Oklahoma City too, outscoring the Thunder reserves, 39-22.

But the backups began to slip Thursday in Detroit, getting outscored, 41-15. Then came Friday's stumble in New Jersey.

Jordan Farmar had three points on one-for-seven shooting. Sasha Vujacic had three points on one-for-five shooting. Luke Walton led the reserves with four points.

The second unit will get a boost when Andrew Bynum returns in April, probably with the reserves. For now, though, it's struggling.

"It's disappointing to play poorly and still win sometimes," Farmar said. "We know that we can't do that for much longer.

"It's getting to the point where every game counts. The playoffs are coming up soon."


Bryant update

The team did not practice Saturday, but Kobe Bryant received treatment for his sprained right ankle from trainer Gary Vitti and is listed as day to day, Lakers spokesman John Black said.

Bryant was injured Friday after a collision late in the first half with New Jersey guard Devin Harris. Bryant went to the locker room with 55 seconds left in the second quarter but returned to start the third quarter.

After making one of seven shots in the first half, Bryant finished the night with 14 points on five-for-19 shooting.



New Jersey Coach Lawrence Frank on Pau Gasol's baseline spin that led to a game-clinching dunk with 31.4 seconds left: "That's a legitimate post move."

Gasol finished with a season-high 36 points, along with 11 rebounds and seven assists.



Lakers today


Time: 12:30 PDT.

On the air: TV: Channel 9; Radio: 570, 1330.

Where: Philips Arena.

Records: Lakers 58-14, Hawks 42-31.

Record vs. Hawks: 1-0.

Update: The Hawks are firmly in fourth place in the Eastern Conference, well behind Cleveland, Boston and Orlando but comfortably ahead of fifth-place Miami. The Lakers defeated the Hawks last month at Staples Center, 96-83, as Pau Gasol recorded his third career triple-double by collecting 12 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists in only 31 minutes.

-- Mike Bresnahan

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