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MARK HEISLER / ON THE NBA

Lakers' season is long, but Warriors' is longer

Jackson's big challenge is pacing team before playoffs, but the postseason is only a dream for Golden State.

October 31, 2010|Mark Heisler

On the bright side for the Lakers, it's finally November!

Having successfully defended seven championships, no one knows better than Phil Jackson the importance of taking it day by day and never allowing your mind to stray to spring and the postseason when the Lakers' season really starts.

On the other hand, even Jackson's mind can stray when the Lakers have to start camp earlier than they ever have to get ready to tour Europe to promote the league office Phil has such a warm relationship with. . . .

And then, the Lakers have to start the season earlier than they ever have, so they're up to Game 3 by Halloween.

"That's the thing," said Jackson before Sunday's 107-83 rout of the Golden State Warriors, or some trick-or-treaters dressed up as them.

"I mean when you're a player and you look up and say, 'Gee, it's not November yet and we're already in the season,' sometimes it really looks long."

In the good news, now they're down to November, December, January, February, March and half of April!

In other good news, the Lakers went to 3-0, polishing off the Warriors without toying with them for the customary three quarters before getting down to business.

Not that it was a surprise, with the Warriors without Stephen Curry.

On the other hand, it wouldn't have mattered Sunday if they'd had Curry and Rick Barry and Nate Thurmond in their prime.

Afterward, someone asked Coach Keith Smart about the difficult matchups.

"I guess that's why you got those banners up there," Smart said.

It's a new day for the Warriors, allegedly, with the team in the process of being sold from the Doofus Regime of Chris Cohan to Joe Lacob, a Silicon Valley venture capitalist.

Lacob's first act was to nudge Coach Don Nelson into retirement.

Nelson, a great coach for many seasons but not the last one, actually had the last laugh, having retired a year ago without announcing it.

Not that the Warriors' performance suffered, but the 112.4 points they allowed per game last season was the most in 17 years.

Opponents outrebounded them by 9.7 a game — the biggest margin in NBA history.

The miracle was they won any games, much less 26 of them.

With Smart, Nelson's fast-talking former assistant, taking over, the Warriors won their first two, outrebounding both opponents!

Of course, both games were at home, the first against Houston, with Yao Ming sitting out the second game of a back-to-back.

And the other was against the Clippers.

"They're on the schedule," Smart said of the Lakers before Sunday's game. "We've got to play 'em. No way you can avoid them....

"We're going to focus on what we do. The Lakers are going to be the Lakers. They're going to be dominant, or they're going to play great. They've got great players....

"Everything about our team is different. We didn't have the big guy, Andris [Biedrins], last year. We're looking at it as a brand new approach and not looking back to what we were, continuing to move forward. That's what I've been selling from day one."

They also have David Lee, who averaged 20 points and 11.7 rebounds playing center for the Knicks last season.

Unfortunately, he's not in New York anymore. Matched against Lamar Odom, Lee was outscored, 16-0, and outrebounded, 14-3.

Oh, and the Lakers outrebounded them by 13, just like old times!

"You have some positives out of some guys," said Smart, who obviously knew there would be nights like this.

"We got a chance [to look at] Jeremy Lin. He came in and did a good job. . . . We tried out zone, got some good mileage out of that. There were some positive things we had in this game. You have to be firing on all cylinders to beat this team."

As far as the Lakers are concerned, every journey starts with the first step, and they're already up to three!

mark.heisler@latimes.com

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