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On a dull night, the Bryants are all that glitters

October 17, 2012|Mike Bresnahan
  • Kobe Bryant made a meaningless game entertaining.
Kobe Bryant made a meaningless game entertaining. (Jae Hong / Associated Press )

The Lakers were already in midseason form, appearing 20 minutes later than scheduled for their exhibition game Tuesday.

They arrived in plenty of time for tipoff, though their pregame rituals were rushed and the product on the court didn't come close to resembling the dominance that awaits around the corner.

That's what Lakers fans hope, anyway.

The Lakers lost to Utah at Honda Center, 114-80, and are 0-4 in exhibition play, losing by an average of 23 points.

Unlike so many NBA teams, the Lakers thankfully don't come up with cheesy promotional slogans each season. (On The Rise. Time for Work. We Play Hard.)

This month's catchphrase would be a no-brainer: We Are Boring.

It will all be completely forgotten by the time the season opens Oct. 30 against Dallas, but the Lakers haven't exactly rolled through the first 16 days of their latest New Era.

It's only the exhibition season, where expectations of finesse and control are low. There were no alarms when the Lakers trailed at halftime, 52-32. Just yawns. And a lot of people staring at the very glittery shoes worn by Vanessa Bryant in her courtside seat. Very. Glittery.

Kobe Bryant had 31 points as the Lakers went without Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard. Steve Nash played the entire first quarter and did not return.

Gasol sat out because he was fatigued, Coach Mike Brown said.

Fatigued? This early in the season?

"Pau played in the Olympics and he's had a long summer, so I'm going to give him a little rest," Brown said.

Gasol has experienced early-season hamstring issues in past years. That wasn't the case Tuesday. He will play in the Lakers' next exhibition Friday against Sacramento in Las Vegas.

Howard skipped another game while slowly returning from back surgery. The Lakers have four more exhibitions.

"He's looked good from day one to me," in practice, Brown said, a reminder that the full team has yet to play a game.

The Lakers are 0-4 in exhibition play for the first time since 2000. The rest of that season turned out pretty well for them, the second of back-to-back-to-back championships.

They have never started 0-5 in exhibition play, though the Lakers' preseason record-keeping goes only as far back as 1982.

Bryant tried to keep things close, scoring the first 19 points of the third quarter for the Lakers. It didn't help.

In fact, Bryant outscored his teammates in the quarter, 23-1, but Utah led going into the fourth, 88-56. Bryant did not play again and finished with 10-for-18 shooting, four for six from three-point range.

If nothing else, he looked playoff-ready.

"Hopefully, we can get our mind out there at some point and work on our rhythm a little bit more and play together," Bryant said. "The more we play together, the better we'll get. That's the most important thing."

Antawn Jamison started in Gasol's place and had seven points on two-for-11 shooting. Metta World Peace had three points on one-for-six shooting.

Gordon Hayward scored 13 points for the Jazz, who sat only one starter, point guard Mo Williams.

Hill back soon

Reserve center-forward Jordan Hill said he would miss the rest of the exhibition season but planned to be available for the season opener.

He sustained a herniated disk in his back last week and said he was relatively pain-free Tuesday.

Hill signed a two-year, $7-million contract during the off-season to stay with the Lakers.


Times correspondent Mark Medina contributed to this report.

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