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LAKERS FYI

Lakers are content not to chase 72 victories

Coach Phil Jackson says it's too hard for a team on the West Coast to try to match the Chicago Bulls' record for wins in a season. If one team can do, Jackson says, it's the Miami Heat.

November 11, 2010|By Broderick Turner and Mike Bresnahan

Reporting from Denver — The Lakers won't be chasing regular-season immortality if Phil Jackson gets his way.

Despite the Lakers' strong start, their coach swatted down the idea of challenging the 72-10 record of the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls.

The travel's too difficult for a West Coast team, Jackson said, continuing his long-standing belief that a team in the Central Time Zone has the best shot because its flights are often shorter than teams on either coast.

He also mentioned the age of the Lakers. Nine of their 14 players are at least 30 years old.

"We have a team that's an older team," Jackson said Thursday. "We don't have to push for that. That's not what's important about our season.

"Everything just has to break perfect for that to happen. Plus a team has to be very, very resilient and very, very capable of filling in for one another at multiple positions."

Jackson, who coached the Bulls during that record-setting season, mentioned one team that might eventually break the 70-victory plateau.

"I think this Miami team could," he said. "I mean, they are talented enough to do that. They may not be deep enough yet or have all their persons in place. … If they stay together, they have a good chance. They have a very talented team."

Jackson spoke before the Heat lost to the Boston Celtics on Thursday and fell to 5-4.

The Lakers seemed fine with not pursuing history from now until April.

"Last year, we wanted to," forward Ron Artest said. "That was something we thought we could have done last year, but Pau [Gasol] was hurt, so we just said, hey, let's just play for the big picture. Now, we're definitely playing for the big picture. We've got 'Drew [ Andrew Bynum] hurt."

Kobe Bryant, for his part, smiled when told that Jackson didn't want to go after the regular-season record … but that Miami might someday do it.

"You know Phil says stuff," he said. "Don't wrap me up into that. ... He said it. He stands by it."

Bryant said he knew the historical questions would be coming.

In fact, he bet Chip Schaefer, the Lakers' athletic performance director, how long it would take before the Lakers were asked about record-setting possibilities.

Who won the bet?

"He did," Bryant said of Schaefer, a trainer on the Bulls team that set the record. "He predicted after 7-0 and I predicted after 8-0. It started off after 7-0, so he won."

New positions?

Jackson isn't sure what to call a potential platoon at backup small forward with Matt Barnes and Luke Walton.

Barnes will get most of the minutes when Artest checks out of a game, but Jackson apparently likes Walton's slightly thicker frame in certain situations.

"Luke's our power small forward and Matt's our speedy small forward," he said.

Walton is listed at 6 feet 8, 235 pounds, Barnes is 6-7, 226 pounds.

broderick.turner@latimes.com

mike.bresnahan@latimes.com

twitter.com/BA_Turner

twitter.com/Mike_Bresnahan

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