The Lakers have lost 8 of their 11 games on the road this season and have a somewhat mediocre record of 14-10. Still, whenever the Purple and Gold comes to town, there is a buzz among fans and players.
"It's always exciting to play the Lakers," said center Spencer Hawes, a thought echoed by teammate Elton Brand this morning after the team's shootaround.
Brand, who missed Saturday's win in Atlanta due to a sprained thumb, said that it was still hurting him this morning and that he hoped after he warmed up tonight and "the adrenaline starts pumping" that he would be able to play. Moments later, though, coach Doug Collins stated that Brand will be out tonight and that Lavoy Allen would once again be in the starting lineup.
Hawes, who had missed 10-straight games with a strained Achilles' before returning for 32 minutes on Saturday, said he has been feeling fine and was OK with the extended minutes he played in his return.
"I feel good. It's nice not having to come back and have back-to-back (games) and have a day in between to rest," he said. "We'll get it warmed up and do it all over again."
Hawes scored 14 points in his return, while fellow center Nikola Vucevic scored a career-high 15 in his first extensive action since missing time with a strained quad. During parts of that Atlanta game, Hawes and Vucevic saw time together on the floor.
"I told coach early in the season when we were practicing that I wanted to get some time out there playing Nik," Hawes said. "You can play off of him with his ability to pass and shoot the ball is fun. I think tonight, especially with their matchup that they bring forward, we're going to see more of that."
When asked about Bryant, Collins almost immediately brought up one of his former players, whom he considers the best of all time.
"I went to the Olympic practices one day and I closed my eyes and I was listening and it was like I was listening to Michael Jordan out there," said Collins of Bryant. "When Kobe was practicing, the things that he was saying, all the chatter...I just smiled. It's interesting how those guys (Jordan and Bryant) separate themselves from others. I've seen him do things that you just shake your head at, marvel at. He's an amazing player. I admire him."
More to come.