Friday , Mar , 16 , 2007 C.Y. Ellis

Lakers are falling fast

(Sports Network) – The Los Angeles Lakers are struggling at the wrong time
of the season. They have dropped seven in a row and 13 of their last 16 games
overall.

The Lakers (33-32) are tied with the Denver Nuggets for No. 6 in the Western
Conference playoff race. They are 3 1/2 games ahead of the Golden State
Warriors and the Clippers and four games in front of the Minnesota
Timberwolves.

Superstar Kobe Bryant, who has scored 25 or more points in 14 straight
games, leads the Lakers in scoring (29.1 ppg) and assists (5.6 apg),
while forward Lamar Odom, who is second on the team in scoring (16.3
ppg), is averaging a team-best 9.4 rebounds per game.

The Lakers, who will host the Nuggets on April 3rd, are scheduled to host 10
of their final 17 games this season. They will play the Timberwolves and
Warriors once and the Clippers two more times this season.

The struggling Lakers try to put the brakes on their seven-game losing streak
when they welcome the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday to the Staples Center.
This is the third and final meeting of the season between the clubs. Portland
won the two previous contests. The Trail Blazers defeated the Lakers on
November 8th at the Rose Garden and on February 21st at the Staples Center.
Portland has won three of the last four contests in the series.

On Thursday, Linas Kleiza scored a career-high 29 points on 10-of-13 shooting
as the Nuggets sent the Lakers to their seventh straight defeat, 113-86, at
the Pepsi Center.

Bryant registered 25 points and nine assists in the loss for the Lakers, while
Luke Walton and Odom returned to the lineup for the Lakers.

Head coach Phil Jackson was fined $50,000 on Thursday for his public
criticisms of the NBA. Jackson claimed a “witch hunt” was going on against
Bryant by the league. The superstar was the recent recipient of a pair of one-
game suspensions for hitting players in the face with his hand and elbow.

With the loss to Denver, Jackson was dealt a seventh straight loss for the
first time in his 16-year NBA coaching career.

The Lakers are 20-11 as the host this season. They will host Kevin Garnett and
the Timberwolves on Sunday.

LAL