Thoughts on the Wizards
Not that the Lakers ought to take any team lightly after the events of this week- do I really need to remind you what happened?- but there's no question if they look past and/or dismiss the Wizards, the purple and gold will lose their third straight home game. Unfortunately, it's not simply a question of showing up to play. Washington may only be a 38 win team, four games over .500, but they've won eight of ten and are playing very well, having leapfrogged Toronto for the fifth spot in the E.C. while simultaneously holding off a red-hot Philly squad (no, that last part isn't a typo) and nearly catching the Cavs. Antawn Jamison and Caron Butler have been particularly good over the last couple weeks. This is no freebie.
Stuff to look for:
- The Wizards love to get the ball up and down the court, so the Lakers might want to dial things down a little from the franchise record 45 three point attempts they took on Friday. Whether they go in or not, that sort of launch-happy style puts an incredible amount of pressure on their defense.
- With that in mind, the Lakers need to find a way to establish the inside early, whether the Wizards zone them up or not. Early in the Charlotte game, Kobe spent a ton of time in the post taking advantage of the mismatches that generally come to him down there. Whether it's that, getting LO (who is still feeling like crizzle) on the block or whatever, it needs to happen. And against the zone, the Lakers need to be far more disciplined in finding the soft spots in the high post- moving themselves, and the ball, and forcing more action from the defense.
- Keep an eye on DeShawn Stevenson's beard. Lord knows what might pop out.
- Check the audio for the entire conversation, but when I asked Phil if he's seeing from the players what he would want in terms of demeanor and attitude following the Charlotte and Memphis games, he said "Not all of them," though didn't elaborate as to who might be lacking when asked.
- The process of scouting for the playoffs has started, as it's becoming at least slightly more clear which teams will match up against each other, or at least what the possibilities are. Jackson said that as a team they've suffered through some restless nights due to recent results, but realize they still control their own fate over the last few weeks of the season.
- Gasol worked out today, and seems to have come through fine. He won't play today, but is getting closer. The/a problem right now is pushing off on that ankle.
- Jackson also mentioned he apologized to DJ Mbenga, who fouled out of Friday's game in a big hurry. PJ said he missed one of Mbenga's fouls when talking to his coaches, and didn't realize Mbenga was on his fifth. Had he, Jackson said he likely would have pulled him in order to preserve Mbenga, or at least his last personal, for later in the game.
Audio: Phil Jackson- Download phil_jackson_3.30 preWAS.mp3