The improved play of reserves Walton, Vujacic, Farmar and Turiaf has been key in the team’s success.

L.A. Times: It has been a painful process for each of them. For Luke Walton, yanked from the starting lineup. For Sasha Vujacic, yanked from the floor at the first mistake. For Jordan Farmar, yanked from the team to play in the Development League. For Ronny Turiaf, yanked from his dream life for a harrowing trip to an operating room.

Perhaps that is why this Lakers quartet has melded into such a tight, effective group off the bench, blending its talent and confidence to become, on its best nights, perhaps the league’s top second unit. Perhaps it is the sharing of hardships and disappointments that has united the players.

Or maybe it is simply their versatility. Farmar supplies the ball-handling, Vujacic the perimeter shooting, Turiaf the rebounding and inside play and Walton a little bit of everything.

While their roles sometimes tend to blur on the court, and the group, calling itself the Bench Mob, is not always on the floor together, the four are enough of a presence to cause opposing teams to realize it’s not necessarily a reason for celebration when Lamar Odom, Pau Gasol, Derek Fisher or even Kobe Bryant leaves the floor to take a breather.

“They play together pretty well within the team concept, even a little bit better as a team than the first unit,” coaching consultant Tex Winter said. “They rely on each other a little more. I think that’s what makes them effective.”

So does the change of pace.

Continue reading ‘Lakers rule from the bench’