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Monday, January 14, 2008
Updated: January 15, 1:23 PM ET

By Jalen Rose
ESPN.com

(Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

Kobe Bryant launches the winning shot in overtime that sent the Lakers to their seventh straight win.

1
While Bynum Heals, Lakers Aim To Fill The Gaps

The first game the Los Angeles Lakers played after losing center Andrew Bynum for two months might be seen as a coming attraction for the Staples Center until the middle of March arrives.

Kobe Bryant will probably be doing more in the weeks ahead. Without Bynum down low, Kobe will have to take tougher shots and work harder on both ends for the Lakers' successful season to stay on track.

Bryant took 44 shots and scored a season-high 48 points in the Lakers' 123-121 overtime win Monday night on the road against the Seattle SuperSonics. It was the Lakers' seventh win in a row.

It has to affect you when you lose your 20-year-old phenom who's leading the league in field-goal percentage, having shown great promise under the coaching of a Hall of Fame center, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

While Bynum's out rehabilitating his left knee, the spotlight shines brighter on backup centers Kwame Brown and Ronny Turiaf.

This is a good opportunity for Brown, who had 10 points and 10 rebounds against the Sonics. He missed most of the season with a knee injury, having returned on Dec. 28. The fans have been getting on him, and my boy Stephen A. Smith has been getting on him. He hasn't played confident basketball.

He's had better times. He was productive in the last couple of games of the Phoenix playoff series last season, which I got to see up close from my spot on the Suns bench.

He's in a contract year. The best thing that can happen is he holds down the fort, and when Bynum comes back, you have two big centers you can send out there.

Turiaf, who fouled out with 14 points and two rebounds against Seattle, has big shoes to fill anytime he goes out there and competes with 7-footers. I've always liked his love of the game.

Anybody else out there who could help? Chris Webber is one player the Lakers could consider bringing in. You always think bringing in Webber would be a good move, but when you have a winning situation already, you have to keep all the factors in mind. Right now, it looks like my old Michigan teammate has an opportunity to sit back and see what happens across the league, and pick the situation that's just right for him.

Some might suggest that this two-month break is good for a young player like Bynum, saving him from the wear and tear of the 82-game season.

I disagree. When you're 20, you can play at 6 in the morning, 7 at night, any time. You can dunk at the shootaround, at the game, any time. When you get older, you appreciate what you could do as a young man. Fortunately for Bynum, this isn't one of those knee injuries that knocks him out for a full season. I don't see anything getting in the way of him getting back in form for the playoffs.

While Bynum is out, I think the Lakers will find a way to play .500. Look for Kobe to find a way to stay afloat, just as the Lakers did against the Sonics.

And when the playoffs roll around, I wouldn't be surprised to see them in the top five in the West seedings. One of the effects of losing Bynum could be hurting their chance at homecourt advantage by getting one of the top four playoffs seeds. Even if they don't get the homecourt advantage, this could end up being a team that nobody wants to play, having Kobe and Phil Jackson on the bench. And a promising center in the middle.

ESPN analyst Jalen Rose is a regular Daily Dime contributor. For more about Jalen, visit his Web site: JalenRose.com.

Dimes Past: January 1 | 3 | 4 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12-13 | 14

2
Kobe's A Bynum Believer

By J.A. Adande | ESPN.com
Kobe Bryant's 48 points in the Lakers' 123-121 overtime victory against the SuperSonics weren't the most remarkable part of his evening. We've seen him go for 40-plus before -- 86 times prior to Monday night, to be precise.

The newsworthy part came afterward, in an on-court interview with KCAL TV, in which he talked about injured center Andrew Bynum. Bryant called Bynum a "terrific, terrific player," then dropped this quote: "We're a championship-caliber team when he's in the lineup."

For Bryant to speak of these Lakers in championship terms, now that's significant. It was an unexpected bit of good news on the same day the Lakers learned Bynum will miss the next eight weeks while recovering from the knee injury he suffered Sunday night against Memphis.

Throughout their strong start to the season, Bryant was cautious with his praise, reserving judgment. While Lakers fans said, "See?!", Bryant's remarks were more wait-and-see. Now, halfway through the season, Bynum apparently has shown enough for Bryant to use the c-word. It makes you wonder if his eyes are no longer wandering, if he thinks the most realistic place to satisfy all of his wants and needs is his current address.

Read the full Adande column

3
Finding Good Players On Bad Teams

By Eric Karabell | ESPN Fantasy Games

Al Jefferson might be the best fantasy player to star on a really horrible team in a while, maybe ever. Those nasty 1972-73 76ers didn't have a 20-10 guy, that's for sure. Our old pal Fred Carter, who used to write for ESPN.com when I was NBA editor, was the best player on that team, scoring 20 points per game. He used to tell me stories about that season and how laughable things had become.

If there was fantasy hoops back then, Carter would have been owned, as well as Leroy Ellis, who was Wilt Chamberlain's backup with the 69-13 Lakers in 1971-72, as he averaged a double-double. But there wasn't much else. How about on those horrible 11-71 Denver Nuggets of 1997-98? Former Celtics forward Eric Williams averaged 19.8 points, LaPhonso Ellis was serviceable at 14 and 7, but man, that was a bad team. Jefferson, meanwhile, is the No. 33 name on the ESPN Player Rater.

See the full Karabell blog

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What To Watch For

Tuesday night: NBA Coast to Coast, 9 p.m., ESPN2; NBA Fastbreak, 12:20 a.m., ESPN

Wednesday night: Bulls-Heat, 7 p.m. ESPN2; NBA Fastbreak 12:20 a.m., ESPN

Thursday night: Cavs-Spurs, 8 p.m., ESPN Radio

Friday night: Blazers-Heat, 7 p.m., ESPN; Warriors-Bulls, 9:30 p.m., ESPN; NBA Fastbreak, 1:30 a.m., ESPN

All times Eastern

Standings & Results

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Extreme Behavior

Monday's Best
Gerald Wallace, Bobcats forward: Goes for 40 points, eight rebounds and five assists in the 119-116 win over the Nuggets. Wallace is averaging 29.8 points in the past eight games.


Monday's Worst
Richard Jefferson, Nets forward: Shoots 2-for-11 en route to nine points in the 99-73 loss to Portland. Vince Carter (2-for-9, 10 points) wasn't much better.


Quote of the Night
"As much as we preach defense, offensively I think we've hit a little snag."
-- Celtics guard Ray Allen, whose team failed to score more than 86 points in going 1-3 over its last four games.

See how all 139 players fared

-- Andrew Ayres

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NBA Video Channel

Boston falls to Washington for third loss in four games.

Watch highlights of every NBA game




7

No Raptor Rapture

ESPN Research

When facing the Raptors on Tuesday (7:30 ET), the Pistons come in having won two straight and three of their last four games against Toronto. The Pistons have an eight-game win streak at home against the Raptors. The last time the Raptors won in Detroit was in April, 2003.

Vince Carter, Rafer Alston and reserve Pistons guard Lindsey Hunter were all a part of that Raptors team led by Lenny Wilkins. Danny Manning was even playing for the Pistons and ESPN's very own Rick Carlisle was the Pistons coach.

Pistons Last 8 Home Games vs Raptors
Category Pistons Raptors
Wins 8 0
PPG 98.8 87.6
FG pct 44.9 41.3
3-pt FG pct 33.1 28.8

8

Toughest Juice

(AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

After making big shots and free throws down the stretch, Caron Butler soaks in the Wizards' second straight win over the Celtics.

9

Good Company

Lisa Brooks
ESPN Research
Before he went down with a knee injury Sunday, Lakers center Andrew Bynum was averaging 13.1 points, 10.2 rebounds, and shooting 63.6 percent from the field in 35 games this season.

The only Lakers to average those numbers for a season were Wilt Chamberlain and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

Average Double-Double and 60 Percent From The Field Single Season, Lakers History
Player Pts Reb FG%
71-72 Chamberlain 14.8 19.2 .649
72-73 Chamberlain 13.2 18.6 .727
79-80 Abdul-Jabbar 24.8 10.8 .604

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