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Personally, Coach Prefers Balance

Times Staff Writer

Phil Jackson marveled at Kobe Bryant’s 55 points Friday against the Washington Wizards, which was pretty much the reaction of anyone else who watched him work his magic in the presence of Michael Jordan.

“A great personal achievement,” the Laker coach said Saturday, a day after Bryant made 15 of 29 shots, including nine of 13 from beyond the three-point arc, in 41 spellbinding minutes against the Wizards. “Fun for the fans, fun to watch.”

Jackson then crinkled his nose.

There would be more to his appraisal of Bryant’s game.

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“As far as our team goes,” Jackson continued, “it’s not great for our team.”

Too much one-on-one play, as far as Jackson was concerned. Too many trips in which Bryant was the one and only option, and that’s not what Jackson wants to see as the Lakers head into their final 10-game stretch of the regular season.

After all, the tuneups are nearing an end.

“I don’t think it’s doing anything for our team,” he said. “It’s getting us through the games, basically. It takes everybody else out of our offense.”

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Jackson doesn’t mind Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal combining for 60 points, but what troubles him are the all-too-frequent games when the rest of the team produces 30 or 35 points. He would much rather see 60 from Bryant and O’Neal and, say, 50 from the others.

“I don’t mind that,” he said with a shrug. “We have a lot of guys who will defer [to Bryant and O’Neal]. It’s part of the structure of our team.”

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With 10 games to play, the Lakers are all but resigned to starting the playoffs on the road. They were three games behind fourth-place Portland and fifth-place Minnesota and one behind sixth-place Utah after Friday.

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“The odds are not favorable,” Jackson said of the possibility of moving to fourth and securing home-court advantage for the opening round. “We can’t be disappointed if it doesn’t happen.”

The Lakers have three sets of games on consecutive nights still to play, including tonight at Seattle and Monday against Memphis at Staples Center. They also play Thursday at Dallas and Friday at Memphis and close the regular season April 15 at home against Denver and April 16 at Golden State.

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TONIGHT

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at Seattle, 6, Channel 9

Site -- KeyArena.

Radio -- KLAC (570), KWKW (1330), KIRN (670).

Records -- Lakers 42-30, SuperSonics 34-37.

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Record vs. SuperSonics -- 2-1.

Update -- After only three games as the home team at Staples Center in the last three weeks, the Lakers hit the road again. The Lakers have won three in a row and eight of 12 games during that grueling stretch. They have five games remaining on the road and five left at home.


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