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TRAFFIC DOESN'T SLOW LAKERS ON THE COURT ONTARIO - A sellout crowd bathed in purple and gold streamed into the arena. Sugary pop music blasted through the speakers. Vendors on the concourse hawked an assortment of food and merchandise.

Really only one thing was missing from the Lakers' lone preseason visit to the Inland area: the NBA champs themselves.

Almost three hours after boarding the team bus at their practice facility in El Segundo, the Lakers finally pulled into the parking lot at Ontario's Citizens Business Bank Arena, leaving them a mere 40 minutes to change, get taped and warm up before tip-off. The lack of prep time didn't prevent the Lakers from storming to a 13-point first-quarter lead on Tuesday night on their way to a 113-107 victory over Golden State.

"On the bus ride, there were a few shouts of 'Maybe we should play all our home games here,' those kinds of sardonic comments," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. "I think we'll take a helicopter next time."

Although Jackson recalls missing tip-off for a game in Boston during his playing days with the Knicks as a result of a snowstorm, he said this was the latest his team has arrived during his Lakers tenure. A four-car pileup added to the usual late-afternoon snarl on Highway 60, as did a small brush fire near the Highway 57 junction.

The Lakers filed off the bus as though they'd just completed a cross-country flight - Andrew Bynum wearing headphones, Jordan Farmar lugging a laptop hooked up to an iPod and Pau Gasol carrying a thick book.

Asked how his team's pregame routine would change as a result of the late arrival, Jackson said, "You just shortchange the talk you'd normally give them. It's just going to be 'Strap them on, pull up your jocks and let's go.' "

If Ontario's new arena lacked the pervasive fresh paint odor of a year ago when the Lakers christened it with an exhibition victory, it still boasted 10,410 fans happy not to have to make the drive to Staples Center. The lively crowd was treated to another superb night from Bynum (20 points, nine rebounds), the return of Lamar Odom (16 points) from a lower right leg contusion and a memorable battle between Kobe Bryant and Stephen Jackson.

The last time the Warriors and Lakers squared off in the preseason, Jackson stormed to the locker room and didn't return after picking up a technical and five first-quarter fouls trying to guard Bryant. The disgruntled swingman later publicly lashed out at Bryant, telling reporters he's "not a fan" of Kobe, accusing him of playing dirty and suggesting "If it came down to a real fight, I know what would happen."

"That'll motivate Kobe," Jackson said "I was wondering why he was so hyped up to start the game."

Although Bryant insisted he didn't read any of those unflattering comments, he still attacked Jackson in the post or off the dribble on the Lakers' first few possessions and showed a little extra emotion. Bryant scored 21 points on 7-for-12 shooting, glaring at Jackson after one bucket and shaking his head at him as he backpedaled down court after another.

"He always finds a reason," Ron Artest said " 'You looked at me the wrong way. All right, I'm giving you 40. You don't want to say my last name. All right, I'm giving you 40.' He's unbelievable."

Author: Fox Sports
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Added: October 22, 2009


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