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The Lakers look hungry — and that could be bad news for rivals

Their triple-overtime win against Phoenix may signal that the team is hitting its stride.

March 23, 2011|By Mike Bresnahan
  • Forward Ron Artest did his part helping the Lakers pull off a 139-137 triple-overtime victory Tuesday over the Phoenix Suns.
Forward Ron Artest did his part helping the Lakers pull off a 139-137 triple-overtime… (Gary A. Vasquez / U.S. Presswire )

Lamar Odom presumably got his pancakes. Maybe Phil Jackson finally got some sleep.

The Lakers were told to stay home Wednesday, a much-deserved rest after their first triple-overtime game in Los Angeles since 1969.

Even though the Phoenix Suns came in with a mediocre 35-33 record and managed to rip through a 21-point deficit, the Lakers were dramatic, even convincing, with their win-at-all-costs mindset without Andrew Bynum.

Lakers 139, Phoenix 137, triple overtime.

"My takeaway from all of that is the rest of the NBA needs to get ready," TNT analyst Chris Webber said. "We always talk about Kobe [Bryant] is old, we talk about everything else. You can talk about the roller coaster this year, but these guys are for real and the NBA needs to take note."

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When Bynum comes back Friday against the Clippers, he better expect to carry a huge burden.

Odom played 55 minutes against Phoenix and wanted breakfast food afterward. Pau Gasol played 52 minutes. Bryant and Ron Artest each played 48. Derek Fisher played 46 minutes.

Odom had a right to be hungry. His playing time was the most for the Lakers since Nick Van Exel logged 56 minutes in a double-overtime victory over Sacramento in March 1995.

Throughout the Lakers' locker room, fatigue battled satisfaction.

Bryant talked to the media long enough to express amusement at Artest's on-court antics and make a case for Odom as the NBA's top sixth man. Then he headed for the exit.

Photos: Lakers vs. Suns

Jackson seemed tired too, saying it was past his bedtime.

He was in playoff mode during the game, though, using only his five starters for the final 20 minutes and 24 seconds, including all three overtimes. No substitutes at all.

The game didn't want to end. The Lakers' season seems to be just beginning.

"They're rolling," former Lakers forward Robert Horry said in a phone interview. "It's impressive that they've only lost one game since the All-Star break, especially since it's an old team like that jelling down the stretch. People don't realize it's hard to get motivated, it's hard to find the energy to get up for those [early-season] games, especially when you go so long the previous season."

Horry was part of three Lakers championships in the early 2000s. He understood what Jackson was doing with the starters.

"Him and his mind games," he said, chuckling. "He likes to see mentally strong teams. He's got to get them sharp. I think that was a good test for him to say, 'Hey, let's see what kind of stamina they've got.' "

They had enough to move to 13-1 since losing to Cleveland.

Now they get back Bynum, who was averaging 13 points, 13.7 rebounds and 2.7 blocked shots in his last 10 games before his two-game suspension for a flagrant foul.

"I think the thing with him is confidence," Horry said. "When you keep getting hurt, it feels like, 'I always have bad luck.' He's starting to get his confidence up.

"They're only going to get as far as he takes them. Everybody else, Kobe and Pau, you know what they're going to do. Some days [Bynum] comes out and he's going to be a beast. Some days he plays like a 12-year-old. He needs to keep being a man."

Ebanks getting close

Rookie forward Devin Ebanks has increased his shooting regimen and might return to practice next week after sitting out the last three weeks because of a stress fracture in his lower left leg.

Ebanks will undergo medical exams within the next few days and begin practicing soon if cleared. He is averaging 3.1 points and 5.9 minutes in 20 games this season.

Times staff writer Broderick Turner contributed to this report.

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