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Hit the Road, Jack

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For the first time this season the Lakers are on a “bring the large pullman bag” road trip, six games between now and Dec. 29.

Stops include Chicago tonight (5:30 on KCAL 9); tomorrow in Minnesota (5 on KCAL 9); Friday with Tony, Paulie Walnuts, Silvio, Christopher and the gang in New Jersey (4:30 start but tape delayed by KCAL 9 until 5:30 to make sure you can get home from work in time); and the fast-getting-old holiday tradition of the Christmas day game in Miami (11:30, ABC).

Maybe a road trip is just what this team needs — on the road they won’t be distracted by fans booing pop-cultural icons during timeouts, or wondering who is sitting next to Jack Nicholson tonight (the answer last game is john McEnroe).

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That said, there are some concerns, for example the Lakers have had three stinker defensive games in a row. It’s not just that Gilbert Arenas dropped a 60 spot on the Lakers, it’s that opponents have shot 55.7% (eFG%) overall at 42.3% from three point range in the last three games against the Lakers. Play like that on the road and the next 11 days will feel like 11 weeks.

And there’s this concern heading into tonight: When the Lakers played Chicago last month they won behind 23 points and a good all-around game from Lamar Odom. They won’t be getting that tonight. Also in the first meeting of these two, the Lakers got great play from Andrew Bynum and Kwame Brown, something the pair hasn’t done in the past week or so.

Maybe some time away from home will mature the young Lakers. Or, they and we might just all get homesick.

AP Photo/ Mark Avery