"They're doing business and you can't blame them,"… (Danny Johnston / Associated…)
The Lakers have spent plenty of time in the TV glare over the years, continually logging the maximum number of games allowed by the NBA on national TV.
But this week they got a cold, hard stare from the NBA and ESPN, which decided in conjunction to drop planned coverage of a Lakers game on ESPN against the Houston Rockets in favor of a Phoenix-Minnesota game on Jan. 8.
Stranded at the TV altar?
"They'll rue the day," Lakers Coach Mike D'Antoni said jokingly, all but shaking his fist at the sky Friday morning.
It's an unusual occurrence for the TV-friendly franchise, but the Lakers (13-16) are struggling in the win column and don't have Kobe Bryant until at least late January. On the other hand, though, this game would have been against Dwight Howard's new team in Houston.
Ratings gold! Maybe not.
"They're doing business and you can't blame them," D'Antoni said. "That's our job now, is to make them go, 'Man, we messed that up.' "
The Lakers play Utah (8-23) on Friday without Pau Gasol, who stayed in Los Angeles because of an upper-respiratory infection. Chris Kaman will take his place in the starting lineup.
ESPN and the NBA can later decide to add a Lakers game to ESPN's slate that was not originally planned for the network. A team can make a maximum of 10 appearances on ESPN per season, and this week's decision knocks the Lakers down to a scheduled nine.
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