Some Lakers are getting less playing time
The 7-0 Lakers are the last undefeated team in the NBA. They're drawing attention for their inspired defensive play, as well as their skillful second unit, which chips away at an opponent's lead or pads what the Lakers' starters have left behind.
Coach Phil Jackson's biggest change at the start of this season was turning starter Lamar Odom into the second unit's anchor. The biggest surprise has been the blossoming of forward Trevor Ariza, whose size and athleticism make him a dangerous defender off the bench.
Jackson basically uses a rotation of 10 players. That translates into a dramatic reduction in playing time for some players -- notably Luke Walton, who is averaging about 20 fewer minutes a game.
The reduced playing time could keep players' legs fresh for the playoffs and improve the team's chances of again playing its way into the NBA Finals.
Player Minutes per game this season; MPG during 07-08 season
Kobe Bryant 34.3 38.9
Vladimir Radmanovic 22.6 22.8
Pau Gasol 34.7 34.0
Andrew Bynum 29.4 28.8
Derek Fisher 27.0 27.4
Lamar Odom 26.8 37.9
Trevor Ariza 22.5 17.9
Sasha Vujacic 13.6 17.7
Jordan Farmar 21.0 20.6
Luke Walton 3.7 23.4
-- Barry Stavro
Photo: Los Angeles Lakers forwards Lamar Odom, left, and Trevor Ariza celebrate after Ariza scored the go-ahead dunk during the second half of a NBA game against the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday in Dallas. Los Angeles won 106-99. Credit: Associate Press / Matt Slocum.