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Pau Gasol still playing well with other Lakers

LAKERS FYI

The 7-footer again is paired with Chris Kaman, who is listed as the center in the Lakers' 104-86 exhibition loss to Sacramento.

October 10, 2013|By Ben Bolch

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LAS VEGAS -- For years, Pau Gasol often ceded the area around the basket to Andrew Bynum. Then Gasol did the same for Dwight Howard.

It was widely believed that Gasol's time as the Lakers' primary center had finally come this season.

Maybe not.

Gasol and Chris Kaman were paired together in the starting lineup for a second consecutive game Thursday night, with Kaman listed as the center. It's a trend that could continue all the way into the regular season.

"We're going to play that way and ride it for a while and see what happens," said Lakers Coach Mike D'Antoni.

Gasol and Kaman were an effective duo for spurts of the Lakers' 104-86 exhibition loss to the Sacramento Kings at MGM Grand Garden Arena, displaying a dynamic skill set that suggested there is enough room on the court for both 7-footers.

Gasol twice fed Kaman with alley-oop passes that resulted in layups … in the game's first seven minutes. Kaman was constantly in motion, knowing Gasol's proclivity for finding teammates in favorable spots.

"Pau makes it easy for everybody because he's such a good passer and playmaker for other people," said Kaman, who finished with 12 points and six rebounds to complement Gasol's 13 points, five rebounds and five assists.

Gasol and Kaman each showed the ability to make plays in the post and on the perimeter. Gasol sank a couple of hook shots and a 20-foot jumper. Kaman pulled up for a 17-footer and later powered into the lane for a dunk.

Jodie Meeks led the Lakers with 19 points.

Chinese excursion

Having reached the midpoint of their preseason schedule, the Lakers still have a long way to go.

Literally.

The team departs Friday for an eight-day trip to China that will include an outing to the Great Wall and a pair of exhibition games against the Golden State Warriors in Shanghai and Beijing.

"The bonding and all that is supposedly good," D'Antoni said on the eve of his team's nearly 13-hour charter flight. "I'd rather bond at home, but if we can bond over there, we'll bond over there."

D'Antoni learned how much of a sensation Kobe Bryant was in China during opening ceremonies for the Beijing Olympics in 2008 when the United States contingent of athletes strolled around the stadium.

"All you could hear was 'Kobe! Kobe! Kobe!'" said D'Antoni, an assistant coach for the U.S. men's basketball team. "That was pretty cool. I think it really ticked off LeBron [James] and those other guys. He'd go, 'Wait, am I mincemeat?'"

Etc.

Steve Nash left the game against the Kings in the first quarter with a sore left ankle and did not return. He said the ankle had bothered him since about a week before the start of training camp but had improved before Thursday's setback. "I feel fairly confident it shouldn't be a huge issue," Nash said. … Wesley Johnson (strained left foot) and Jordan Farmar (strained right calf) did not play.

ben.bolch@latimes.com

Twitter: @latbbolch

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