It has been a season in which the Lakers' bench has been uplifting, a unit that provides effort and energy.
That was not the case Saturday against the Miami Heat.
But there were circumstances that led to the Lakers reserves not being a factor during a 96-80 loss to the Heat on Christmas Day at Staples Center.
At least that's what Coach Phil Jackson said.
Jackson pointed out that Ron Artest got into foul trouble early in the first quarter, which threw off the rotations.
Jackson pointed out that Kobe Bryant insisted on starting the second quarter with the reserves, something that rarely happens. And that, too, threw off the rotations.
It meant that reserves Matt Barnes, Steve Blake, Shannon Brown and Andrew Bynum never were able to find their rhythm.
"They never really got out there as a unit," Jackson said. "Matt had to come in early and play for Ron. Ron, I thought, took himself out of the ballgame almost in the first three minutes by fouls that weren't corresponding to the game.… Then Matt had to play the whole first quarter, so it kind of changed the rotation for those guys a little bit.
"So I think that affected them. And Kobe wanted back in with that group. I let him go back in to play, so that changed kind of the focus of that group. That focus is a lot about Shannon, about Matt and moving the ball and getting things happening. It changed a little bit."
Artest picked up his first foul 23 seconds into the game.
He got his second foul about a minute later, forcing Barnes to enter the game with 9:26 left in the first quarter.
When the second quarter started, Bryant was on the court with reserves Bynum, Blake and Brown, as well as starter Lamar Odom.
"Sometimes you've got to play through that," said Brown, who had 10 points on three-for-nine shooting. "In a game like this, Kobe is not going to want to come out of the game, no matter what. We've got to play smarter. Ron has got to play smarter and not get easy, dumb fouls, or whatever you want to call them.... But it did mess up our rotations a little bit, but there's no reason or no excuse to come out and do what we did."
Barnes scored two points on one-for-four shooting.
Blake missed all five of his shots.
Bynum had six points and five rebounds.
"I played eight minutes and then I didn't play again until garbage time," said Barnes, who played 9:26 in the first quarter and didn't play again until there was 6:13 left, with the Lakers trailing by 16 points.
"We have confidence in everybody who is out on the court," Barnes continued. "Our bench has been good this year. No one from the bench really got a role tonight. We pressed on the starters tonight. They did all they could do. But we've got to get a better effort off the bench no matter if we're in there for 40 seconds or 40 minutes."
Brown admitted the bench's rhythm was "thrown off a little bit" with the change in the rotation.
"But that's still no excuses for what happened out there," he said. "We mix up the teams in practice and we play with each other. So no matter who is in, we're supposed to go out there and be able to play together and keep that rhythm going."