Lakers a 'long shot' to catch Spurs

Updated: March 30, 2011, 2:26 AM ET
By Dave McMenamin | ESPNLosAngeles.com

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Two days after becoming the Los Angeles Lakers' all-time leader in games played, passing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's mark of 1,093, Kobe Bryant strengthened his unofficial lead on most practices missed this season as he sat out Tuesday's.

Derek Fisher was given the day off too, although he stuck around to get some shots up, as the team went through a "light" practice, according to Lakers coach Phil Jackson. The Lakers have another day to get work in before Thursday's matchup with the Dallas Mavericks in a battle for the No. 2 seed in the West. The Lakers currently lead the Mavericks by one game.

[+] EnlargeLakers V. Spurs
Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE/Getty ImagesLakers coach Phil Jackson didn't give his team much of a chance to catch the West-leading Spurs, but he said the Lakers will still try.

The Lakers were off on Monday and idle days have been good for them lately outside of providing an opportunity for rehab and recovery. Just more than a week ago, Los Angeles moved ahead of Dallas for the No. 2 seed on an off day and on Monday came within 3.5 games of the San Antonio Spurs for the No. 1 seed as the Spurs lost to Portland -- as Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili sat because of injury -- to drop their fourth straight game.

"It's still a real long shot," Jackson said of the possibility of overtaking the Spurs for the top seed in the West with just nine games left to play. "They only have to win a couple games here [down the stretch] and we have to go perfect. So it's real difficult to see that [happening]."

The Mavs game marks the beginning of the Lakers' final march through the regular season when they'll play nine games in just 14 days.

While the key battle will be fought for playoff seeding Thursday, the undercard bout should be interesting as Lamar Odom and Jason Terry will be on the court together showing off their importance to their teams as two of the top candidates for the NBA's Sixth Man of the Year Award.

"I guess it's the impact the player has on the team," Jackson said. "Lamar has so many areas that he's valuable -- assists, rebounds -- besides his scoring. It's hard to compare them."

Odom is averaging 14.3 points, 8.7 rebounds and 3.0 assists while playing 39 of his 73 games off the bench this season. Terry is averaging 16.4 points, 1.9 rebounds and 4.2 assists while coming off the bench in 63 of the 73 games he's played.

Odom, who was the No. 4 pick in the 1999 NBA draft and has started 677 of the 820 games he's played in this 12-year career, said that the fact that his name is even being mentioned in the conversation for the award comes as a shock.

"It's something in my wildest dreams I didn't think that I would ever win the Sixth Man of the Year Award because I'd always be a starter," Odom said. "I would love to win the award, but for the fans of L.A. Every time I get going in the game and hear the crowd, they pick me up a little bit. It's for them."

"If I do win it, the night I win it, I'll probably leave in on the scorer's table just to kind of let the fans know it's for them and to thank them."

The sixth man award is voted on by a panel of approximately 125 journalists who cover the NBA at the season's end and will be presented to the winner sometime during the first couple rounds of the playoffs.

Fisher the flopper?

As president of the National Basketball Players Association, Fisher has a certain clout among his peers around the league. But that doesn't mean they like how he plays. Sports Illustrated ran a player's poll this week, asking 152 participants, "Who is the best flopper in the game?" Fisher received 6 percent of the votes. The top vote-getter was Cleveland's Anderson Varejao (22 percent), followed by Ginobili (18 percent) and Houston's Luis Scola (7 percent) and Kevin Martin (5 percent).

"Fish takes the contact. He does draw and sell offensive fouls," Jackson said. "We're happy he does what he does. We want more guys to set up and do that better."

Fisher is tied for fifth in the NBA this season with 45 offensive fouls drawn. Ginobili is close behind with 42. Phoenix's Grant Hill leads all players with 59.

"Ginobili had one [charge drawn] the other night that was really an interesting one that he actually, I think, hurt himself on that was kind of one of those plays that [makes] you wonder," Jackson said. "He went down like it was a TKO. He really went down hard. There are some players that are just really good at selling it."

Ebanks still out; Caracter sent down

Lakers rookie forward Devin Ebanks underwent a MRI on Monday to examine the stress fracture in his left leg that has kept him sidelined since early March. It was determined he'll be out at least another three weeks with the injury.

"I feel fine," Ebanks said. "I guess it's one of those things where it's not ready yet. Just got to wait it out."

Ebanks, a second-round draft pick out of West Virginia, is averaging 3.1 points, 1.4 rebounds and 5.9 minutes in 20 games this season. If he needs the full three weeks to recover, he will be available shortly after the Lakers begin their first round playoff series.

The Lakers also announced Monday that their other rookie, Derrick Caracter, will be sent back to the Bakersfield Jam of the D-League.

Caracter is averaging 2.0 points and 1.1 rebounds in 5.3 minutes on the season.

West clutch on the golf course

The Lakers spent part of their off day Monday at Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades hosting a charity golf tournament.

Lakers legend Jerry West stole the show as he aced the 138-yard 16th hole.

"I heard he plays pretty often and that was his fourth hole-in-one of his career," Pau Gasol said. "He's very competitive, as we all know."

The event raised more than $200,000 for the Lakers Youth Foundation, $8,000 of which came from an auction for West's autographed hole-in-one golf ball.

Dave McMenamin covers the Lakers for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Follow him on Twitter. Micah J. Adams of ESPN Stats & Information contributed to this report.

Dave McMenamin

ESPNLosAngeles.com

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