Cook, Evans return with some jabs

Times Staff Writer

Brian Cook and Maurice Evans were in the visitors’ locker room at Staples Center, happy to be back in Los Angeles but also eager to be part of a less restrictive offense, they said.

Cook and Evans are feeling their way through a different team and new surroundings since being sent to the Orlando Magic for Trevor Ariza on Nov. 20. The Magic beat the Lakers on Sunday, 104-97.

“It’s been great because I’ve got a lot more freedom here to play,” Cook said. “We’ve got the motion offense and I’ve got the beast down low.”


The beast would be center Dwight Howard, who has a way of opening things up for the shooters simply by his presence in the post.

Orlando was seventh in the league in scoring before Sunday, which was two spots below the Lakers, although Evans reiterated what Cook said.

“We’ve got so much offensive freedom out there,” Evans said. “We’re just excited to be here.”

Both players were applauded during a brief pregame video that thanked them for their contributions to the Lakers.

There were a few boos when Cook checked into the game. He averaged 6.6 points in a little more than four seasons with the Lakers.

The game went the way their brief careers with the Magic have gone so far: Evans had more points (nine) and minutes (22) than Cook (three points, nine minutes).

The Magic improved to 15-4.

“The guys are great here,” Cook said. “They’re competitive.”

Oh, and one other thing.

“There isn’t as much drama,” he said.

Then there’s the other player from that trade.

Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said it was “hard to say” how Ariza was progressing mainly because there had been no room for him so far.

“Right now, we have two units playing on the floor and they’re playing pretty well,” Jackson said before the game. “I’ll try to find him some room out there tonight because he certainly knows what’s going on on this [Orlando] team.”

Ariza ended up not playing against the Magic. He has played 14 minutes in three games with the Lakers.

Ronny Turiaf left the game Sunday because of a slight concussion after being elbowed by Howard in the fourth quarter. He had five points and five rebounds in 10 minutes. . . . Jackson said Kwame Brown would not play on a trip that begins Tuesday in Minnesota and ends Wednesday in Denver. Brown has sat out eight games because of a sprained ankle and knee. . . . Jackson on coaching against Cook and Evans: “It’s not quite like coaching against Shaq [Shaquille O’Neal], but, yes, it is [weird]. It’s the vagaries of the game.”