Ariza finally gets back on the court

Times Staff Writer

An unfamiliar name popped up on the Lakers’ active roster for Game 2.

Trevor Ariza, out since Jan. 20 because of a broken bone in his right foot, played Friday against San Antonio, finishing with two points and two rebounds. He entered to a loud ovation with 5:53 to play and the Lakers ahead, 88-62.

“I’m just glad he got out there and had a chance to play,” Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said. “How he is going to help us is yet to be determined. His energy out there, his ability out there is always nice to have, that kind of speed and quickness.”

A key defender, Ariza was a fixture on the Lakers’ second unit after being acquired from Orlando last November for Brian Cook and Maurice Evans. He was averaging 6.5 points, 3.5 rebounds and 18 minutes in 24 games with the Lakers.


“We had him playing Allen Iverson as a defensive guard,” during the regular season, Jackson said. “His speed is really a factor in our team speed.”

Ariza, 22, has one year and $3.1 million left on his contract, though he can opt out of it during the off-season.

To make room for Ariza, Ira Newble was placed on the Game 2 inactive list, joining Coby Karl and Andrew Bynum.



Jackson loves to needle the national TV networks for their long timeouts. Friday was no exception.

When asked about his unusual demeanor during timeouts, Jackson said he instructed players to talk among themselves for most of the timeout while he stood with assistant coaches on the court about 20 feet away.

“And then, the last 20 seconds, I just step in and we go from there,” Jackson said. “However, when it is ABC, TNT or ESPN, I don’t have to tell you that there is a much longer period of time, sometimes five to 10 minutes longer. So we try not to fall asleep on the court and get back to the huddle with some energy left so these guys haven’t dried out.”

For those that are wondering, Jackson also detailed why he conducted timeouts the way he does.


“It evolved because I had a persistent person on my staff who wanted to tell me a lot of things -- Tex Winter,” Jackson said. “So we go out on the court and get away from the rest of the huddle and the other coaches would chime in. The players are instructed to go back to the bench, get themselves settled in, get a drink, a towel, talk to their teammates about what’s going on on the court and what they can do to help each other.”