Lakers news and NBA notes- January 4

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Just like AK does it at the rec.

There was a lot of great news coming out of Staples Center Sunday night. Start, of course, with a 131-96 win for the Lakers over a Dallas Mavericks team that beat them up good back in late October, their first "damn right, we're champions" win in some time. The Lakers, as they'd done fairly consistently earlier in the year, got off to a fast start, finishing the first quarter up 30-13, fueled in part by a bench that would produce its best game of the season. 24 points from Jordan Farmar, 66 points from the reserves in total (no, it only seemed to equal their total output for December). Everyone, as Andy points out in his postgame wrap, got into the act.

More good news: Ron Artest has been cleared to practice. Genuine, full contact rehearsal run. He'll be on the floor Monday in El Segundo, with the hope any symptoms from his Christmas concussion have gone the way of 2009. Artest wasn't sure when he'd suit up for a game, but this is obviously a solid first step. Luke Walton, out since Nov. 16 thanks to back surgery, could also return today if doctors give him the go-ahead. That's a lot of small forward coming back to the roster.

But- there's always a but, right?- the news wasn't all good, or even all-good-adjacent. Pau Gasol left the game in the first quarter with a strained left hamstring and didn't return. Certainly it served as a serious downer on an otherwise happy night. Kobe Bryant said Gasol would be fine, but ESPN LA's Beto Duran saw Gasol, who didn't speak with the media, leave the locker room with a limp. Given recent history (Gasol missed the season's first 11 games with a bum right hammy), Phil Jackson expressed concern, and rightly so. Even as someone who thought going in the Lakers needed a solid win against a quality team, Pau's injury could absolutely undo all that good feeling heading into a tough week of games.

Gasol (more specifically, Gasol's leg) will be evaluated this morning, as productivity in the L.A. area plummets due to all those people trying to work with their fingers crossed.

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