Walton, Bynum Lead Lakers Past Old Rivals
Playing in their final preseason game before the new season, the Los Angeles Lakers came in already bit by the injury bug. But in Wednesday's 102-81 loss to the Utah Jazz, the Lakers suffered yet another setback: Kobe Bryant sprained his right wrist. Bryant, the subject of recent trade rumors, has complained all preseason about both of his knees being sore. On Wednesday night, he injured his right shooting hand attempting a jump shot against Utah's Mehmet Okur. Both Lakers coach Phil Jackson and Bryant thought it would be wise if Bryant sat out the Lakers' final preseason game against the Kings in Las Vegas Friday night.
Chris Mihm and Kwame Brown both have played sparingly this preseason, as Mihm tries to get back on track after missing all of last season because of a severe ankle sprain, while Brown tries to recover from surgeries on both an ankle and shoulder. Lamar Odom was recently ruled out of playing Opening Night Tuesday, and maybe for 2 or 3 more games thereafter. Odom himself is recovering from offseason shoulder surgery.
So the Lakers, without Bryant, took the floor Friday night ready to take on Sacramento. The Lakers proved to be too much for the Kings in this one, as they hung on for a 101-97 win. Before the game, the Kings learned that Mike Bibby tore a ligament in his left hand, forcing him out of action for a good 6-10 weeks. Quincy Douby started in place of Bibby and scored 12 points but had 0 assists. Martin, their leading scorer from last season, went 5-21 from the field and scored 22 points. But there were some bright spots for Sacramento, with Salmons chipping in 22 and Garcia going 5 for 6 from the floor and scoring 16.
Without Bryant, Jackson looked to Vujacic at SG. He went 0-8 from the floor, but it had no impact on the game. The Lakers, led by Luke Walton and Andrew Bynum, closed the first half on a 17-4 run. Bynum made his prescence felt the moment he came in, as he scored on a left handed hook shot in the lane. He then followed that with 2 more dunks in the half, with one off a beautiful feed from Turiaf. With Bynum scoring all the points for the Lakers, Walton was setting him and everyone else up for easy looks. Walton would record 8 assists, displaying his excellent floor vision that's been evident since his days at Arizona in college.
Jackson went with the lineup he plans on starting Tuesday night against Houston. A frontcourt of Walton, Turiaf, and Brown, along with Fisher and Vujacic (starting in place of Bryant) in the backcourt...Andrew Bynum celebrated his final day as a teenager Friday night...Barry Bonds was in attendance with the Maloof brothers.