Lakers march toward history

RYAN WOLSTAT, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:59 PM ET

Everybody went into the season talking about the Miami Heat and how great it would be.

Apparently, that inspired the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers to remind the world that they still are the team to beat.

The Lakers crushed Portland by 25 points on Sunday, running their record to 7-0.

It is the fifth time in 25 years that the Lakers have started 7-0--no other team has done that more than twice over that span.

With imposing big man Andrew Bynum battling injuries once again, Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom have stepped up. Gasol had a triple double on Sunday and is off to the most dominating start of his career.

Odom is averaging 16 points and 11 rebounds per game after spending most of last season as a reserve.

Gasol told ESPN the team isn't specifically trying to top the premier record of all-time -- Chicago's 72-10 1995-96 squad that was helmed by current Lakers coach Phil Jackson.

"We go game by game," Gasol said. "We really don't talk about going for the best record. We just try to deal with the everyday situations. So far we're doing good."

Indeed, the Lakers lead the NBA in points per game (114.0), three point percentage (45%) and efficiency and are near the top in many other categories.

Jackson said these Lakers aren't as good defensively as those Bulls, but admitted that offensively, not a lot separates the two teams.

The scary thing is, with Bynum's return not too far off, the Lakers could get even better. Gasol is already having his way with opponents and not many teams have an answer for Bynum, a seven-footer with great offensive instincts.

Even with superstar Kobe Bryant still at less than 100%, L.A. is the class of the NBA.

They are capable defenders, have one of the best closers in the game in Bryant and are bigger, smarter and deeper than any other squad.

With dates against lowly Minnesota, surprising but injury-hampered Denver and Steve Nash- led Phoenix on the schedule this week (only the Denver match being a road affair), it is highly likely the Lakers will check in at 10-0 after the first three weeks of the season.

DOWN GOES VINCE

Hands up everybody that is surprised that ex-Raptor Vince Carter is injured again with a bruised hip and knee.

That said, this time it isn't really Carter's fault that he got hurt on Saturday night after slipping on a wet spot while playing against the Bobcats in Charlotte.

Carter's coach, Stan Van Gundy lost it after the play, which came late in the game.

"We got a guy hurt simply because they wouldn't dry a damn wet spot," Van Gundy told reporters.

"When a player goes down they're supposed to do it. They didn't care. That's ridiculous. I'm just ticked off."

AROUND THE RIM

Houston has passed on signing big man Erick Dampier who also has been strongly connected to the Raptors, as well as the Heat, Bulls and Suns ... The Utah Jazz and head coach Jerry Sloan are expected to come to terms soon on a contract extension. Sloan is in his 23rd year coaching the team -- by far the longest tenure in professional sports. "It's pretty much done, as far as that's concerned," Sloan told NBA.com. Sloan is 68 and in the last season of his contract ... Celtics centre Shaquille O'Neal travelled with the team to Oklahoma City on Sunday, but was inactive. He is expected to play sometime during Boston's four-game road trip. O'Neal has a bruised right knee ... Brandon Rush might be going from the outhouse to the penthouse. The Indiana guard looked to be out of the rotation after getting himself suspended, but now, thanks to the poor play of Mike Dunleavy, might get into the starting lineup on Tuesday ... Looking not so happy to be there, Allen Iverson arrived in Turkey on Monday to kick off his stint with Turkish club Besiktas. Whether or not he will have to attend practice while there is yet to be determined ... Wizards swing-man Josh Howard has been cleared to participate in contact drills and should be able to return to the lineup sometime next month. Howard has not played since surgery on his knee in March.

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