Lakers guard Kobe Bryant steals the ball from Warriors guard Monta Ellis. (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles…)
Wow, a road game.
Forgive the Lakers if their tray tables weren't in the upright position when their plane took off for tonight's game at Golden State. They haven't done a lot of this traveling thing.
This is only their second road game in 24 days, part of a staggeringly friendly early part of the schedule that hands them 17 of their first 21 games at Staples Center.
They are typically dealt a schedule front-loaded with home games because Staples Center kicks them out in late January and early February for the Grammy Awards.
This, however, is ridiculous.
"It's really weird," Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said Friday. "Feast and famine, so to speak. One time or another, you're going to have to go out on the road and do it."
It'll catch up to them eventually but not quite yet.
After tonight, the Lakers (11-3) don't play on the road again until a Dec. 12 game in Utah.
That doesn't mean their road games, however few so far, aren't meaningful to them yet.
"We like to win on the road as much as we like to win at home, maybe more," Jackson said. "A victory on the road, we always say, is worth 1 1/2 games."
The players don't seem to mind the imbalance. Ask them again in January when they're two-thirds the way through a nine-game road trip, but they're fine now with practically all their games at Staples Center.
"This is a good time to be home," forward Lamar Odom said. "A lot of teams have to play on the road during the holidays. We're lucky and fortunate that we got to stay home with our friends and family."
The Warriors (5-9) don't match up well with the Lakers, though the Lakers will have to adjust to a run-and-gun offense averaging 109.3 points a game, second-most in the NBA.
Guard Monta Ellis scored 34, 37 and 42 points in his last three games, against good competition too: Portland, Dallas and San Antonio.
The Lakers will put Kobe Bryant on Ellis, Jackson said.
The Lakers' second unit figured to improve when Andrew Bynum returned to the lineup and Odom was relegated again to reserve status.
But the backups were backed into a corner Tuesday against New York, allowing a 23-point lead to get trimmed quickly to 14, forcing Jackson to put the starters back into the game.
"I always tell the second group when we have games where we go up 15 or 20, it's important for us to play well, especially for Kobe and Pau [Gasol] and Derek [Fisher], so they can stay out of the game," Odom said.
The reserves weren't exactly clapping each other on the back after that effort.
"We talked right after the game was over," Odom said. "Sometimes it's a little volatile because your adrenaline is still flowing, but I think the point got across. We know how we need to play. We have to move the ball. No matter if you score or not, our defense as a team and our communication as a team has to be a lot better."