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Can Lakers turn season around to properly honor Jerry Buss?

LAKERS FYI

It's a delicate question many are thinking amid sadness over legendary owner's death. Kobe Bryant says he hopes some use chance to get 'history lesson and understand what this franchise really is.'

February 19, 2013|By Mike Bresnahan
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It's a delicate question on so many minds.

Can the Lakers successfully turn around their disheveled season and properly dedicate it to deceased team owner Jerry Buss?

"I hope so," Kobe Bryant said Tuesday. "A lot of the guys here never had a chance to meet him, didn't really know him. Some of them are too young to really understand the impact and significance that he had.

"Hopefully now, this is a chance they can get somewhat of a history lesson and understand what this franchise really is, what this thing means … where it's come from … hopefully we can carry that out."

Sadness was still evident at the Lakers' training facility a day after Buss died of complications from an undisclosed cancer.

Bryant was in a reflective mood, thinking back on his 17 seasons with the Lakers. He couldn't suppress a smile while saying he shared the desire with Buss to "put the Celtics in the rear-view mirror."

Boston has won 17 championships, the Lakers have taken 16.

"That's something that was driving him and it's something that continues to drive me," Bryant said.

The Lakers (25-29) will have to push forward with a team that hasn't been above .500 since November. They will have to do it despite 14 more road games and an unsightly 9-18 road record. And they will probably go with a team that looks almost identical after Thursday's trade deadline.

"It's unlikely that there will be an upgrade in the talent of this team. I just don't see how that's realistic," Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak said Tuesday.

In other words, Dwight Howard is staying. He had looked so miserable at times, he had to be asked: Do you want to be traded?

"I just want to win right now, where I'm at," Howard said.

Frustration, you have company.

Lakers Coach Mike D'Antoni called this his most difficult season as a coach "by far."

"We have the pieces. It's just not fitting together," he said.

They have "reset" their season so many times. They have 28 games left. "We've 'turned the corner' 15 times so far," D'Antoni said sarcastically. "Maybe the urgency of it will keep us on the right path."

Buss memorial service

Buss will be honored at a memorial service Thursday at 3 p.m. at Nokia Theatre.

It will be open only to invited guests and televised live by Time Warner Cable SportsNet.

Many speakers are expected, including Bryant, Jerry West, Magic Johnson, Pat Riley, Phil Jackson, Shaquille O'Neal, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, James Worthy, Pau Gasol, David Stern, most or all of Buss' six adult children and AEG executive Tim Leiweke.

The Lakers also plan to wear a purple-and-gold "JB" commemorative patch on their jerseys the rest of the season.

Gasol injury update

Gasol hadn't spoken publicly since sustaining a tear in the bottom of his right foot, but he was optimistic when interviewed Tuesday.

Of greatest interest, will he be back before the end of the regular season?

"I hope so," he said. "We're on the right path."

Kupchak later said Gasol would be out another month, which would give him about a dozen games before the end of the regular season.

mike.bresnahan@latimes.com

Twitter: @Mike_Bresnahan

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