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Lakers' road trip starts with a little less help

The Lakers begin a stretch of three road games in four days in Milwaukee. They won't have backup center Theo Ratliff, who will have arthroscopic surgery on his left knee Tuesday.

November 15, 2010|By Mike Bresnahan

It could be worse for the Lakers. They were blitzed by Phoenix but missed the blizzard in the Midwest.

They got together Monday morning for practice at their training facility, a rare occurrence on a travel day in which they flew four hours, but Sunday night left that kind of aftertaste.

They had plenty of things to practice as they prepared for a three-game trip to Milwaukee, Detroit and Minnesota, the latter getting pasted by snow over the weekend.

There's one thing for sure about this excursion.

"It's a cold one," Kobe Bryant said, trying to smile in the aftermath of getting pummeled by the Suns' three-point barrage Sunday.

The Lakers were still shaking their heads long after the final three-pointer had been dropped on them, and they picked up some somber injury news Monday when it was determined that backup center Theo Ratliff would undergo arthroscopic surgery Tuesday to see what was causing soreness in his left knee.

The Lakers declined to estimate how long Ratliff, 37, would be sidelined, reserving judgment on a timetable until after the procedure. He was averaging only 0.3 points and 1.6 rebounds in 8.4 minutes a game.

Lamar Odom had an MRI exam Monday morning and was determined to have a bone bruise in his right foot. He played 42 minutes Sunday and complained of a burning sensation in the top of his foot, but was expected to be available Tuesday against Milwaukee. Steve Blake (intestinal flu) will also be able to play.

The level of competition won't be great over the next few games, seeing how Milwaukee (5-5) has the best record of the three, followed by Detroit (4-6) and Minnesota (3-9).

But the Lakers (8-2) seem to be tired of trying to fatten up at Staples Center, their home-to-road ratio an imbalanced seven to three so far.

"I'm looking forward for us to get on the road," Bryant said. "I think it'll be good for us."

The Lakers were almost part of history Sunday, the Suns one made three-pointer from tying an NBA record after hitting 22 of 40 in a 121-116 victory.

The Lakers, losers of two consecutive games thanks to a leaky defense that allowed 33 fourth-quarter points Thursday in Denver, have dropped three in a row only once since acquiring Pau Gasol in February 2008. It happened last March on a three-game trip to Miami, Charlotte and Orlando.

None of the crowds on this trip will rival Oklahoma City or Boston, but Lakers Coach Phil Jackson tried to compliment them anyway, in particular a small section of boisterous fans at Bucks games.

"Milwaukee has a real exciting home audience there, kind of like a soccer crowd," he said. "Detroit's been an empty Palace for the last couple years on their home court, but we'll see how that goes. Minnesota had a wonderful comeback against New York the other night and they had home-court advantage obviously."

One thing's for sure. The Lakers won't see anybody launch 40 three-point shots the rest of this week.

"You want a team to settle for 40 during a game. Obviously when they make 22 of them, it gives you problems because that's a lot of points," Gasol said. "Most of them were contested so they made some tough shots."

It wasn't all bad

One of the things the Lakers did well Sunday against the undersized Suns was attacking the basket, outscoring them by 40 down low.

"They had 68 points from the paint," Suns Coach Alvin Gentry said. "I think Phil's done pretty good as a coach over the years, so I think he's got a pretty good handle on what his team is good at and what they're not. When you have more rings than you've got fingers, I think you're pretty good."

Gasol made 12 of 17 shots and Odom made 10 of 18.

Both the Suns and Lakers seemed to acknowledge it was more of a 48-minute hot streak than atrocious Lakers defense, not that the Lakers were slapping themselves on the back for a job well done.

They could have been quicker in getting to the Suns' shooters and done a better job of "running them off shots," Odom said.

"But they shot the ball well," he said, summarizing everything with three words. "They beat us."

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