The Los Angeles Lakers last three wins have come with Bryant resting his sore left ankle, which he aggravated last week. Whether he will play in Sunday’s All-Star game is still up in the air, but the team has shown that they can still hold it down for him to recover as they prepare to defend their NBA title.
“This is a good team no matter who’s in or who’s out of the lineup,” said Lamar Odom, who had 25 points and 11 rebounds for Los Angeles. “We’ve got a lot of guys that can play.”
Pau Gasol had 22 points, 19 rebounds and five blocks and Jordan Farmar added 18 points for Los Angeles, which enters the All-Star break with the best record in the Western Conference at 41-13.
Los Angeles was also without center Andrew Bynum, who was out with a bruised right hip, yet didn’t appear to be the slightest bit short-handed.
“We’ve been playing good basketball recently. It was unfortunate that Kobe had to go out and Andrew as well,” Farmar said. “Everybody took it upon themselves to really play better basketball and play together.”
Since the end of the first quarter the Lakers had been in control. After the Jazz cut the lead to one point, the next 12 points scored by the Lakers and a 3-pointer at the buzzer by Farmar gave them a 31-18 lead.
“We finished strong,” Los Angeles coach Phil Jackson said. “We played well with the limited lineup that we had out there.”
The Lakers are 2-1 against Utah this season