Lakers' toughest opponent this season: Time

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Jeff Gross/Getty Images

Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers looks to move the ball against Kevin Martin #12 of the Houston Rockets during their opening night game at Staples Center on October 26, 2010 in Los Angeles.

The NBA champion Lakers opened the new season last night at Staples Center against the Houston Rockets. Coach Phil Jackson’s team is going for its third straight title. The Miami Heat with superstar LeBron James stands in the way. But the Lakers’ toughest opponent isn’t a team; it’s time.

The Lakers need time to heal center Andrew Bynum’s right knee... time to rest Kobe Bryant’s right knee... time to rest 37-year-old Derek Fisher’s entire body. The new guys &nsAH; guard Steve Blake, swingman Matt Barnes and center Theo Ratliff &NSah; will help. They’re better than last season’s backups; they’ll give the starters more time to rest.

The schedule helps. For the first third of the season, the Lakers spend most of their time playing bad teams that didn’t make the playoffs.

Their longest and toughest road trip comes in February but ends with the All-Star break – and five days of rest time. And for the last month of the season, the Lakers play 11 games at home and only four on the road – with only one outside the Pacific Time Zone.

With a schedule like that, you’d think the NBA was trying to give the Lakers plenty of time to get ready for a playoff run to a third straight title. Time will tell – and it’s on the Lakers’ side.

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