YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections


Lakers look a little thin in scrimmage

Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol show why they are All-Stars, but some others are going to have to step up.

December 16, 2011|By Mike Bresnahan
  • Lakers forward Pau Gasol, left, and point guard Kobe Bryant performed well in a team scrimmage on Friday.
Lakers forward Pau Gasol, left, and point guard Kobe Bryant performed well… (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles…)

The Lakers tried to move forward with an planned intrasquad scrimmage, providing reminders why they might still be an elite team but also lending weight to the big question: Who exactly are they?

Kobe Bryant was smooth and Pau Gasol scored from inside and out, but the Lakers' roster seemed so thin without Lamar Odom and Shannon Brown on the second unit.

Bryant, Gasol and Andrew Bynum each had 14 points Friday in front of 6,568 fans that filled up about two-thirds of USC's Galen Center.

Steve Blake and Matt Barnes were also on the first team, while the second team consisted of Metta World Peace, Luke Walton, Josh McRoberts, Jason Kapono and rookie guard Darius Morris.

Derek Fisher, 37, took part in pre-scrimmage drills but was held out of the actual event.

This much is known eight days before the season opener: Kapono must make a lot of three-pointers and Devin Ebanks must take a huge step if the Lakers are to account for the loss of Odom and Brown, who combined for 23.1 points a game last season.

"At different times, we had different people step up," Lakers Coach Mike Brown said. "Obviously, Kapono, we brought him here to shoot the ball.

"Devin Ebanks, being 6-foot-9 and young and long and athletic, it's great to see him not be afraid and step up and take the right shots. I don't think he forced anything. I thought he let it come to him. If he's out there with that starting group, that's what he's going to have to do because I won't call a play for him."

Kapono, 31, made four of nine three-point attempts. Ebanks, in his second season, made four of six shots and scored 12 points.

World Peace was hit and miss as he continued to play his way into basketball shape. He missed a three-point attempt, then made one. Then he missed an off-balance turnaround in the post then but made one a few minutes later over Bryant.

"We used to post him [up] a lot in Indiana, and that's what we're going to do here with that second unit," said Brown, who was an assistant with the Pacers when World Peace played there earlier in his career.

In a sign of the times, longtime Lakers public-address announcer Lawrence Tanter said for the first time, "Metta World Peeeeace." Fans loved it.

In another sign of the times, fans booed when Tanter announced that the Clippers were the opponent in an exhibition opener Monday at Staples Center.

The Battle of L.A. will be analyzed throughout the season, but the Lakers offered some reminders of how they won two of the last three NBA championships.

Gasol hit effortlessly from the outside numerous times and also completed a three-point play after getting fouled on a left-handed hook shot.

Bynum also looked solid, burying a jumper from the top of the key and then completing a three-point play after getting fouled on an up-and-under move.

The starters were ahead at the end of the first quarter, 27-13, before coaches mixed up the teams the rest of the afternoon.

Bryant did not talk to reporters after the scrimmage. His wife, Vanessa, filed divorce papers earlier in the day in Orange County. Kobe and Vanessa Bryant released a joint statement in which they asked for privacy "during this most difficult time."

Roster movement?

Veteran guard Baron Davis became a free agent Friday after none of the teams under the salary cap put in a bid to claim him. He can now sign with any team, and the Lakers and New York Knicks will look into his health before taking any further steps.

Davis was bothered by a bad back in recent years and did not take part in training camp. His agent told various media outlets that Davis would be sidelined several weeks because of back pain.

"I've known Baron forever," said a longtime acquaintance who asked not to be identified. "All he's ever wanted to do was be a Laker."

Davis was waived Wednesday by Cleveland, which must still pay him $28.7 million, though it will not count against the Cavaliers' salary cap. The Lakers could offer him only the veteran's minimum of $1.4 million.

Davis, 32, went to Santa Monica Crossroads High and UCLA. He also played parts of the last three seasons with the Clippers, averaging 13.1 points and 6.7 assists last season for the Clippers and Cleveland.

The Lakers did not use their amnesty clause to waive a player before Friday's deadline. They can still use it before next season or the 2013-14 season.

The Lakers would still have to pay an "amnestied" player but wouldn't have to fork over additional luxury taxes on his salary.

The Lakers also did not use a $5.2-million traded-player exception they received last December by sending Sasha Vujacic to New Jersey for now-retired forward Joe Smith. The exception expired Friday.

The Lakers still have an $8.9-million trade-player exception they obtained last Sunday in the Odom trade. It expires next December.

Los Angeles Times Articles