Welcome rest day for Lakers after hectic start
Updated: 2011-12-29 17:32
Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant (L) and Pau Gasol (R) of Spain walk towards the bench for a time out after losing possession of the ball against the Chicago Bulls during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles, Dec 25, 2011. [Photo/Agencies]
With egos badly bruised after losing their first two games of the regular season, the Los Angeles Lakers enjoyed a rare day off on Wednesday having avoided their first 0-3 start since 1978.
The 16-time NBA champions were beaten 88-87 by the Chicago Bulls in their season opener then 100-91 by the Sacramento Kings before returning to winning ways with a 96-71 romp at home to the Utah Jazz on Tuesday.
Three games crammed into three hectic days at least ended on a winning note after many Lakers fans despaired while watching their team squander an 11-point lead against the Bulls and then look worryingly old and slow against the younger, faster Kings.
New Lakers coach Mike Brown was delighted to watch his players finally earn him a win and he rewarded them with a day off, their first since training began on Dec 9.
"I feel good about my team, I feel good about the process we're going through right now," Brown told reporters.
"It's helping me to see what kind of character we have while we're learning."
Los Angeles Lakers fans, one wearing a shirt asking to trade NBA commissioner David Stern (R), dance during a stop in play against the Chicago Bulls during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles, Dec 25, 2011. [Photo/Agencies]
The Lakers have been perennial championship contenders in recent years with All-Star guard Kobe Bryant and Spanish forward Pau Gasol leading the way but their fans were hardly encouraged by the moves made, or not made, during the offseason.
Inspirational coach Phil Jackson retired and disgruntled forward Lamar Odom, the league's best bench player last season, asked to be traded to the NBA champion Dallas Mavericks.
Odom had felt more than slighted when he and Gasol were part of a three-club deal that would have brought four-time All-Star Chris Paul to the Lakers, only for that trade to be blocked by the NBA.
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