Road tests are around the corner
Given their numerous injuries in training camp -- and the lengthy, uncertain recovery process of one particular knee -- few people thought the Lakers would get off to an 11-5 start this season.
Except the Lakers themselves.
Weeks ago, when the games still didn’t even count, Andrew Bynum said they would start out at least 15-5, Luke Walton said they could go all the way to the Western Conference finals, and, more recently, Lamar Odom shrugged after a 97-88 victory Saturday against the Clippers.
“We were a playoff team and we have a favorable schedule at home,” Odom said, “so, not [surprised] at all.”
The predictions of a quick start were a little different outside the locker room, mainly because of Kobe Bryant’s right knee and the fact that the Lakers couldn’t separate themselves from .500 last season until a late 11-3 push gave them a 45-37 regular-season record.
But this season, they are 9-2 at home, 4-0 in the Pacific Division, 2-0 against the Clippers, and light-years beyond their 7-9 start of a year ago.
Of course, Coach Phil Jackson wants to hear none of that.
“We haven’t gone on the road,” he said. “We haven’t really been in that kind of situation where we’re going to have to go out and do something on the road under duress.”
They’ll get a chance soon enough.
They have four home games in the next seven days -- Indiana, New Orleans, Atlanta and San Antonio -- before hitting the road for eight of their next 10, including intriguing tests in Houston and Dallas, and, a bit later, Miami on Dec. 25.
Odom had been prodded by Jackson before the Clippers game, put on notice for his less-than-memorable games against his former team.
He got into foul trouble Saturday but finished with 18 points, eight rebounds and no turnovers in 31 minutes.
He also made a key three-pointer with 2:08 to play that pushed the Lakers to a 90-79 lead.
“He played a good game, hit some bail-out shots that were terrific for us,” Jackson said.
Odom, as always, declined to differentiate a game against the Clippers from any others.
“It’s a division game, that’s it,” he said.
The Lakers won many of the statistical categories against the Clippers, but free-throw shooting was not one of them.
They made only 10 of 19 from the line, underscoring a season-long problem. They are 23rd in the league in free-throw percentage, making only 72.6%.
“I’m sure Coach is going to make us shoot a lot of free throws in practice [today], and if we miss them, we’ll probably have to run,” said center Kwame Brown, who made one of six against the Clippers. “We’ll make them in practice. We always do.”
vs. Indiana, 7:30, FSN West
Site -- Staples Center.
Radio -- 570, 1330.
Records -- Lakers 11-5, Pacers 9-9.
Record vs. Pacers (2005-06) -- 1-1.
Update -- The Pacers are 2-3 so far on a six-game trip and have given up an average of 110.7 points in their last three games -- a victory over Golden State and losses to Seattle and Denver.