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LAKERS FYI

Christmas Day matchup between Lakers and Heat has loads of star power

With a cast of big names, including Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Phil Jackson and Pat Riley, there could be more focus on individuals than the teams.

December 23, 2010|By Broderick Turner

Kobe. LeBron.

Dwyane. Pau.

Phil. Pat.

The game is between the Lakers and Miami Heat on Christmas Day, but so much of the focus will be on those names.

As Derek Fisher pointed out Thursday after the Lakers practice, the NBA is all about its star power.

"Our game is built on a lot of our individual guys," Fisher said. "Stars and talent, rightfully or wrongfully, that's how it is.

"So when you have a game that has a matchup like a Kobe Bryant and a Pau Gasol and a Lamar Odom and Dwyane Wade and LeBron James and Chris Bosh, the personalities that are going to be matching up in this game, I don't know if it can get any bigger… from that standpoint — although there will be other games in this regular season that can mean more. But from a personality standpoint and a star power point, I don't know if it can get any bigger."

Even Lakers Coach Phil Jackson and Heat President Pat Riley, who built the Miami team with Wade, James and Bosh, have their star power.

As Gasol said, fans are excited about the game Saturday like it's, "Game 1 of the [NBA] Finals, it seems like, right?"

Be sure of one thing, Gasol said, the Lakers "want to win" the game.

"A game like this is definitely a game when you can send a statement," Gasol said. "Even though it's still early, you still want to make sure you beat this team and not the other way around."

So much was made of the Heat when Riley, who once coached the Lakers, put the Super Friends together, with Las Vegas oddsmakers setting Miami as the favorite to win the NBA championship — even though the Lakers are the back-to-back champions.

That has the Lakers hyped.

"You can definitely send a message to the team you are playing against and to all of the other teams watching," Odom said.

Jackson, unlike his players, refused to put a lot of importance on the Christmas game when asked how his team should view the game.

"What do you mean, how to view this game?" Jackson responded. "Like it's a championship game, like it's a playoff game? No. It's not a playoff game. It's a Christmas Day game. So, you go out there and play and play hard and enjoy the day after it's over."

Full-squad practice

The Lakers took Wednesday off but went back to practice Thursday, working hard to forget the embarrassing loss to the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday night.

By all accounts, it was a good practice because the Lakers had their full complement of players participate.

Bryant, who declined to talk to the media, practiced, as did Andrew Bynum.

"We worked intensely and that was probably one of the best days that we've had all year," Gasol said.

Jackson vs. Christmas games

Jackson was told he has been a part of Christmas Day games 26 times, either as a player or a coach.

"So I spend a lot of my life on Christmas," Jackson said, laughing. "It's something that you do and you go through it and you recognize it to be seen on national TV as an honor, yet it's an imposition in your private life."

broderick.turner@latimes.com

twitter.com/BA_Turner

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