Off to a hot start? Not exactly

Bresnahan is a Times staff writer.

The Lakers lead the league in scoring. Just think if they were actually making shots.

They’re averaging 105.8 points a game but shooting 43.5%, a lowly 21st in the league going into Saturday’s games.

It’s so bad that Phil Jackson smiled when asked if the Lakers would be rusty after another three-day break between games.

“We’re shooting the ball so well, it doesn’t even matter right now,” he said dryly.

They’re lucky they’re not shooting themselves in the foot.

The culprits are many.

Andrew Bynum is shooting only 44.4% after a 63.6% effort last season. Derek Fisher is shooting 36.6% and Sasha Vujacic only 31.8%. Pau Gasol is making 45.2% of his shots, a 6% drop from his career percentage.


Kobe Bryant, a 45.3% career shooter, is only slightly off stride, making 44.6%.

Jackson didn’t seem overly concerned.

“I haven’t really looked at stats, and probably won’t until we get close to 20 games,” Jackson said.

Then again, there’s really only one stat that counts. The Lakers are 4-0 this season.

“Those are the percentages that we like the best,” Fisher said.

Test from Artest

Portland was supposed to be a good challenge for the Lakers. Then came a 96-76 opening-night blowout.

Now the Lakers get their latest “challenge game” tonight against Houston, which is 4-2 after adding Ron Artest during the off-season.

Jackson has long been an admirer of Artest, who has been rumored to be heading to the Lakers in various trade scenarios over the years, none of which ever materialized.

“He’s a stopper,” Jackson said. “They had a guy that was a stopper in [Shane] Battier, who was a really good defensive player. This just gives them another guy that can go out and take a load off of Tracy McGrady and let him concentrate on his scoring. Ronnie likes to score too, so he does something at both ends of the court for them.”

Artest, acquired from Sacramento in a five-player deal during the off-season, makes $7.4 million this season but will become a free agent in July at age 29. He is averaging 17 points and 5.5 rebounds a game with Houston.


Battier has not played yet this season because of inflammation in his left foot.


Former Lakers guards Tierre Brown and Smush Parker were taken in the first round of the Development League draft.

Brown went eighth overall to the Anaheim Arsenal and Parker went 12th overall to the Rio Grande Valley Vipers. It is not known if they will play for those teams.

Brown has played overseas and in the Development League since spending the 2004-05 season with the Lakers. Parker did not earn an NBA job last month after playing the exhibition season with the Denver Nuggets.