Lakers win, but it’s more of the pain
Kobe Bryant and Andrew Bynum watched Tuesday’s game from the locker room.
It wasn’t long before they were joined by Jordan Farmar.
The reserve guard left in the second quarter because of a strained left hamstring, another injury issue for the Lakers to address as the playoffs come closer to arriving.
The Lakers held off the Sacramento Kings, 106-100, at Staples Center and moved within a game of Orlando for the league’s second-best record with one game remaining.
But nobody seemed to care about that.
The upcoming first-round matchup against Oklahoma City was a talking point, as was Farmar.
It’s not that the Lakers will fail to function without Farmar’s 7.3 points a game, but the last thing they want is more people in the trainer’s room this late in the season.
Bryant sat out Tuesday because of a broken right index finger and has also been bothered by a sore right knee. Bynum also skipped the game, his 12th in a row because of a strained left Achilles’ tendon.
Bryant is expected to play in the playoff opener and Bynum remains resolute that he’ll be there too, but it’s unclear if Farmar will make it back in time, thinning an already shaky batch of reserves.
“We don’t like injuries at all,” Pau Gasol said. “I feel bad for Jordan. Hopefully it won’t be too bad, but I had two strained hamstrings this year and it’s just tough. We’re trying to get Andrew back and we’re trying to get Kobe as healthy as possible. It’s hard, but it’s part of the game.”
Farmar was injured when he landed after a dunk. His status is day-to-day.
Gasol had 28 points, Shannon Brown had 24 and the Lakers’ reserves actually played well against Sacramento.
Gasol continued his solid push in recent games, making 12 of 15 shots and taking eight rebounds.
Brown, starting in Bryant’s place, made 10 of 19 shots and seemed to shake off the torn ligament and bone bruise in his right thumb that had bothered him for weeks.
Sasha Vujacic had 13 points off the bench and Luke Walton had nine.
But Lamar Odom had five points on one-for-four shooting and Ron Artest had two points on one-for-seven shooting, neither looking particularly sharp.
Most of the chatter was about Oklahoma City, understandably, though Coach Phil Jackson wasn’t in a talkative mood when asked what he initially thought after the Lakers realized they’d be playing the Thunder.
“Pass the salt and pepper, please,” he said, smiling.
He apparently had a late dinner Monday.
He later said the younger, faster Thunder could give the Lakers some problems.
“They’re very quick,” he said. “They have foot speed on us and we’re going to have to have good transition, take care of the ball well, do those type of things.”
Jackson also launched the first round of mind games, making sure everybody knew that Thunder forward Kevin Durant was averaging a league-high 10.3 free-throw attempts a game.
“I think a lot of the referees are treating him like a superstar,” Jackson said. “He gets to the line easily and often. He’s got the ability to create fouls. That’s a big part of scoring, to get to the foul line.”
The Lakers swept the regular-season series against the Kings for the first time since 1997-98 and were helped when rookie-of-the year candidate Tyreke Evans was ejected in the third quarter for complaining about a non-call after he scored.
In other news, the Lakers (57-24) hold the tiebreaker with Orlando (58-23) and would clinch the NBA’s second-best record if they win tonight against the Clippers and Orlando loses against Philadelphia.
Until then, they’ll try not to lose anybody else to injury.