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Lakers trying new combinations in China

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BEIJING (AP) - With an injured Kobe Bryant on the bench, the Los Angeles Lakers will be looking at different player combinations when they play the Golden State Warriors.

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``We have guys competing for jobs,'' Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni said at practice Monday. ``They're trying to earn jobs. So it's a hard time for these players but they're doing well.''

The Lakers play two exhibition games against the Warriors: in Beijing on Tuesday and in Shanghai on Friday.

Although he made the trip to China, Bryant is expected to be out for much of the season with a torn Achilles tendon and an ailing right knee.

The China trip is part of the NBA's Global Games, an effort to promote the league's global brand. The league played its first international game when Washington visited Maccabi Tel Aviv in Israel in 1978. By the end of this season, the NBA will have played nearly 150 of them, including 18 during the regular season.

Pau Gasol said the Lakers have enough on offense to make up for Bryant's absence.

``It's just a matter of having everybody else healthy so we have as many guys as possible to be able to make up for Kobe's absence,'' he said.

Golden State guard Stephen Curry knows that with Gasol and Steve Nash the Lakers can pose plenty of trouble.

``They don't have Kobe and probably won't for a little bit, but they've still got a lot of talent,'' Curry said.

Bryant is one of the most popular NBA players in China and was the focus of media attention at Monday's practice. Amid questions about his teammates and his latest signature shoe design, he looked back to last season when the Lakers struggled with injuries and were swept by San Antonio in the first round of the playoffs.

``I think it was an unfortunate year,'' Bryant said. ``We got so many injuries, decimated with injuries. But ... we're looking forward to getting back out there this year and making up for lost time.''

AP NEWS
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The Associated Press
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