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Lakers' Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Phil Jackson and Derek Fisher dissect the team's recent struggles

Lakers guard Kobe Bryant entered the media scrum Monday with a testy and determined attitude. It was likely similar to his attitude at a team meeting Saturday, where recent struggles were discussed and Bryant said later he had some choice words for his teammates.

But, despite the Lakers closing out a winless three-game trip Sunday with a 96-94 loss to Orlando, Bryant had a positive spin for reporters Monday after practice at the Lakers' facility in El Segundo, though he wasn't particularly in a mood to talk. (He was late to team warmups against Orlando due to an upset stomach, and though he felt "a lot better," he said, "I’m getting a stomach virus now with all these questions.") Still, he explained why he felt encouraged in spite of the Lakers' latest loss. 

"We played well enough to win," he said. "You got games sometimes where you play hard and lose the ballgame. We lost to a quality team. We played hard."

That's not making the situation any easier for the Lakers, whom Bryant described as "upset" and a "little edgy." They suffered their first three-game losing streak since Jan. 23-27, 2008, not too long before the team acquired forward Pau Gasol. And though overall records would indicate the Lakers (46-18) stand to win Tuesday night's contest against Toronto (32-29), the team lost to the Raptors last month, 106-105. The Lakers could be looking at their first four-game losing streak since April 2007. 

Some may be worried about the Lakers’ offense after their recent performance on the road, but Bryant is more upbeat.

"We’re getting really good looks; they just didn’t fall for us," said Bryant, who scored a team-high 34 points on only 12-of-30 shooting against Orlando. "That’ll happen. You can’t hang your hat on that. That’s not going to get it done. Defensively, we get it done. Yesterday, we shot a bad percentage from the field and still held them to 40% from the field. That gave us a chance to win the game."

Gasol didn't share the enthusiasm. "I think the ball has got to move more," he said Monday.

Gasol scored 20 points against Orlando after a four-game stretch in which he averaged only about 12 points per contest. "That will give us a better rhythm, better looks, easier shots."

As I’ve noted before, I don’t think you can blame Bryant for the offensive lapses in the last eight games since he returned to playing after suffering a sprained left ankle. I also mentioned specifically that the Lakers had looks against Orlando, but the offensive options were pretty limited because of the team's poor shooting. But I'll also agree with Gasol that ball movement can always improve the offense, especially with the team's low percentage numbers in the last two losses (36.3% against Charlotte and 37.5% against Orlando)

As for the does-Kobe-shoot-too-much debate, Lakers Coach Phil Jackson has mixed feelings. On the one hand, he said, after teammates discussed Bryant’s shooting in the second quarter, the “team game” picked up, and the Lakers were looking better in the first half. On the other hand, when it came to the fourth quarter, Jackson said, Bryant’s shooting was warranted. He chalked up 16 needed points in the final period.

Said Jackson: "He got his rhythm in the fourth quarter where I thought he really had some great shots to help us win the game. But they didn't [all] go in."

Jackson's mixed assessment of Bryant didn't mean he was the guilty party on offense. The Zen Master said it appeared more opponents were leaving the perimeter open, mainly to forward Ron Artest, who shot a woeful two of 10 from the field against Orlando. Though Gasol finished with 20 points against Orlando, Jackson said the lack of an inside game probably was due to the team trying to avoid turnovers after averaging 18 in road losses to Miami and Charlotte.

"One of the things we don’t like to have happen is turnovers when the ball goes inside," Jackson said. "We had a couple of those yesterday where execution things are creating problems with us in having the ball inside. We want security."

Amid the debate surrounding the Lakers' current struggles, veteran guard Derek Fisher reminded fans that the "sky is not falling." The Lakers (46-18) hold a 2 1/2-game lead over Dallas (44-21), a 3 1/2-game edge over Denver (42-21) and a five-game cushion over Utah (40-22) in the Western Conference.

"We’ve still done it right 46 times and we haven’t done it right 18 times," Fisher said. "That’s still a pretty good percentage. We’ll keep fighting to get better."

And that's something all the Lakers can agree on.

Jackson: "I think adversity is one of the best things that can happen to a team."

Bryant: "You have these peaks and valleys. The important thing is you have to put your foot on the gas, and you have to go."

Gasol: "The hardest part will come on the last stretch of the season and the playoffs. That’s where we’re going to really tighten up and be at our best."

-- Mark Medina

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LA Guy,

You are missing something that is actually the important thing of the exchange. The important part is Kobe didn't flinch. In exactly the same situation, you would have flinched, fell back and tripped over your own two feet. And wound up on you butt right there in front of a national audience.

Just like the rest of us.

Barnes had already been overly aggressive towards Kobe (or you) at that point. There is no way a normal human being would have anticipated that the pass was over his shoulder (from right to left, past Kobe's face, in Kobe's perspective -- just like the 3D analysis CLEARLY shows).

Just to be safe, especially in the case where Barnes' cross-face, over-the-shoulder pass went errant (a HIGH possibility for a journeyman, no-name, nobody, NBA scrub of a player), every one else on the planet would have flinched. Some, would have flinched, then punched the guy right out.

He could have claimed later, while picking up his teeth, that he was, "only faking a pass over the shoulder, and that he wasn't going to hit anyone in the face!"

Those other video perspectives clearly shows the ball within four inches of Kobe's face (which is the very point you hang your hat on, saying a direct, towards Kobe's face action would have actually touched his nose). That distance is below the margin for error for normal humans to flinch.

Every play that game Beatle Bash? Even when you KNOW a punch is coming, people flinch. All the time.

Kobe is a G.

The caption should be, "I was hoping that you hit me, then I woulda gotten a free punch!"

Barnes' subtle slight of hand is pro'lly the reason he isn't suspended. But, that does in no way diminish the mental toughness on display by one Kobe Bean Bryant.

Besides, playground rules stipulate that if a guy doesn't flinch, you either have to go through with it and hit him, or be branded as a punk. Just like a gunslinger who draws his weapon and doesn't fire.

Could you imagine the juice Barnes' would have gotten had Kobe made any reaction at all? Instead, he looks like a blowhard -- all bark and no bite. Of COURSE he was all respectful after the game.

Read, "The Art of War." This was Barnes' attempt as saving face.

--FEARless

John K,

Excellent narrative. It is even slightly incongruous with your nature. I can't imagine you doing anything with deliberate introspection. That goes against your grain. But, that also makes your prose ever so much more compelling.

I can dig it.

Plus, there was even a moral to the story. Classic!

--FEARless

@TROLL MAN, I don't think you are a Troll at all. You know what? I think you are a dyed in the wool Laker Fanatic. At least I hope so, because I find myself agreeing with most of your post. OK FOLKS DON'T ATTACK MAMBA24 ALL AT ONCE NOW!

BTW, there were no game winners during the stretch when Kobe was out.

Good post, ouchhhhhhhhh,

--FEARless

Posted by: FEARless | March 08, 2010 at 03:48 PM

Did you even watch those games?.. there was no need for game winners , the Lakers won by double digits. The only game that came down to a final game winning buzzer beatin' shot was the celtics game, and there is no guarantee we win that game EVEN if Kobe takes the last shot(see Orlando game).

Don't get me wrong, this isnt meant as a anti-Kobe comment. I'm just tired of the nonsense being posted on here.

Did anyone see DHoward after game 5 of the Finals? He didnt go to the lockeroom and cry after the game, he sat courtside and watched the presentation of the O'Brien trophy to OUR World Champion Lakers. Do you think that wasnt in the back of the Magics head on Sunday? They didnt need a haircut to remind them of the painfull loss, it was deep inside them. They played with passion and won. We did have a chance to pull out a victory but failed. Kobe is our best player , but he wont win them all for us. We need to play as a team and build on the intensity they displayed on Sunday.

Wearin' the Ring

Easy to get the feeling from interviews, this is a group of ring wearin' vets that have been there done that and know something about the process. That knowledge has maybe slowed them a step? Rounded the edge off their regular season intensity? Maybe given them a false sense of security?

When you're wearin' the ring, you get the benefit of the doubt until you get bounced or not. It's about the playoffs and everyone knows it. Other teams need to worry about how they stack up and use the regular season to establish it. Ring wearers know. 'Till they jump up the 1st round, relax and enjoy.

This blog is blessed with an unusually high number of people who both love the Lakers and are exceptionally good writers. Some also have interesting backgrounds and life experiences that they weave into their comments. It's a moveable feast. So enjoy. Posted by: CornerJ | March 09, 2010 at 07:44 AM

And you CornerJ are one of those exceptional people. Kudos to a Blog Cornerstone!

ChicNstu,

(BTW, probably the best alias on the blog) Kobe is still hitting about 60% on game winners this season. Better than his overall shooting, and better than even Pau's overall shooting. So, though there are no guarantees in the Celtics game, hindsight only works on probabilities. So far this season, the Lakers most reliable offensive weapon has been Kobe's game winners or game tying shots.

This reality does not support your argument.

The Lakers have far more blowouts with Kobe in the lineup than with Kobe out of the lineup. Plus, the only blowouts this season against quality opponents happened with Kobe in the lineup.

This reality doesn't support your argument, either.

The problem with your argument, is that it has no statistical relevance. Five games is just too small a sample size. You are bound to stick you neck out on a position only to have to eat crow when Kobe hoists another Larry O'Brian over his head.

FEARless

Soooo, are we blaming Kobe for our 46-18 record? Best in the West, by the way!
This continuing saga of it's all Kobe's fault might hold some water if this were GRADE SCHOOL ball, but these are Pro's (at least I think). That 4-1 record without Kobe, is that comparable to the 3 game losing streak of the Cavs a while back is LeBron's fault?
In case you weren't watching Kobe passed to WIDE OPEN Ron, CLANK, WIDE OPEN Fish, CLANK, WIDE OPEN Farmar, CLA, opps, AIRBALL! If he's passing the ball, MAKE THE SHOT! Any of those go in, we win!

ChicNstu,

(I just LOVE writing that). Let me be clear; if you are getting tired of people posting nonsense on this blog, you must also include anyone who has made a conclusion based on a measly five game sample.

Especially a stretch where there were mitigating circumstances that stacked the cards in the Lakers favor, such as (but not limited to):

1) Missing star players on the opposing teams
2) The team as constructed not having been scouted
3) The proximity to the All-Star break
4) The relative lack of quality of the opponents themselves
5) The knowledge that their was to be no savior
6) An apparent early understanding that the offense would be less efficient and less productive (it was)

These factors and others make the sample much too unreliable to draw conclusions. Do you also disparage those comments as well?

Do you instead preach a wait-and-see attitude, which is the only non-nonsense conclusion to draw?

--FEARless

FEARless - I responded on the original post, but suffice it to say that I think your hero worship is going too far. Trying to pretend that a very talented, very hard-working son of privilege is any tougher than even the average tough-guy on the streets of LA, much less thousands of other athletes (say football players, hockey players, boxers, UFC fighters, etc) who show more on a daily basis is just laughable. Heck, WWF guys have to be tougher on a daily basis, KNOWING they will be hit. Kobe isn't some sort of special icon because he didn't duck on a pass that wasn't going towards his face on a play where he knew that Barnes never would have done a thing.

Don't you think there's a reason that no one in the NBA has even thought about punishing Barnes? No fine, no suspension, not even a discussion. The idea is a joke, because Barnes didn't do anything that would warrant it.

KobeBryant,


"Gasol didn't share in the enthusiasm. "I think the ball has got to move more," he said Monday.

Gasol scored 20 points against Orlando after a four-game stretch in which he averaged only about 12 points per contest. "That will give us a better rhythm, better looks, easier shots."


Can you diggggggg it!!!


Who would not want a better rhythm, better looks and better shots???


The answer is Kobe Bryant.


He wants the team to depend on him, this is why he takes the rhythm out, nobody gets a better looks and Kobe is the only one that can make tough shots.


Kobe does what he does, because he wants to be UP THERE with nobody except himself. Not even his teammates. He IS WRONG!!!


It is his teammates who can put him UP there!

Well, here you go.

Cavs inside: Shaq-.566 Lakers inside: Drew-.564
Vare-.563 Gaso-.514
Hick-.556 Odom-.460

3-PT: Gibson-.479 3-PT: Artest-.376
Parker-.447 Fisher-.358
MoWil-.415 Brown-.323

I wonder if Kobe would like passing the ball to the Cavs shooters!?! No wonder LBJ piles up the assists!

FEARless

ChicNstu did not have a comment for you. actually s/he had a jab at me

"Good post, ouchhhhhhhhh,"

do not worry, s/he does not get it. your your above line had anything to do with the comment you made. s/he was the only one who did not get my joke about being a drag queen, transgender in my response to Mamba24 when i asked him if i have the right to post if i'm not a jock or a thug. i wanted to point out his homophobic comment because he attacked my screen name: just another "index" swish.

anyway, ChicnStu is good for administrative and archiving jobs, like posting links to the game.

Hey LA Guy! Ya man, toughness! That's what it is!

I tell ya, the hero worship has gone to far, right man? Ya! Ben Rothelisberger, the epitome of tough, from a hardworking steel town like Pittsburgh, gets by assaulting young co-ed females is sickening isn't it? I'm right there with you man.

We should stop giving any person, of privilege or of the fake tough veneer like a Steeler QB (c'mon, who's tougher and of the streets than that) any pass, right?

I will follow your lead in equalizing all rights and punishments for real crimes, for children of privelege, children of the streets, children of the corn, childrens everywhere.

LA guy and The sun god, the 2 tough LA guys together! YA!

BTW, don't remember these teammates complaining last season when Kobe played the exact same way to their CHAMPIONSHIP. That's what we are, WE ARE CHAMPIONS!

Fearless,

I'm sorry if i come across the wrong way. I wasnt attacking you or Kobe. I was simply saying that Kobe taking the final shot wont always be a W at the end of the game. Nor do i think we are a better team without Kobe, as i stated "Kobe is our best player" in my post. I do hope he does hoist up the Larry O' and the MVP trophy, ive been a big fan of his since was became a Laker.

Peace

GO LAKERS!

ive been a big fan of his since he became a Laker.*

ouchhhhhhh. was that you that i responded to(just another swish index)? I didnt recognize you in drag.

My apologies to you as well.

BTW, don't remember these teammates complaining last season when Kobe played the exact same way to their CHAMPIONSHIP. That's what we are, WE ARE CHAMPIONS! Posted by: DJ | March 09, 2010 at 10:21 AM

NOW THAT'S WHAT I'M TALKING ABOUT!!

hey guys a new post is up

MM

DJ,

you wrote: BTW, don't remember these teammates complaining last season when Kobe played the exact same way to their CHAMPIONSHIP.

my response: Pau won the European championship this past summer
after winning the NBA championship. I believe that he believes his
value has gone up.

Well, here you go.

DJ WROTE:

*****Cavs inside: Shaq-.566 Lakers inside: Drew-.564
Vare-.563 Gaso-.514
Hick-.556 Odom-.460

3-PT: Gibson-.479 3-PT: Artest-.376
Parker-.447 Fisher-.358
MoWil-.415 Brown-.323

I wonder if Kobe would like passing the ball to the Cavs shooters!?! No wonder LBJ piles up the assists!*****

------------------------------------------------------------------------------

DJ,

Good use of stats, but you're missing one thing.

Lebron's trusts his teammates and his teammates feel this and know this.
Thus, their higher shooting percentage.

Kobe doesn't trust teammates. HIS teammates feel this and know this.
Thus, their lower shooting percentage.

TRUST is everything in sports.

Kobe doesn't trust teammates. HIS teammates feel this and know this.
Thus, their lower shooting percentage.

TRUST is everything in sports.

Posted by: Curry | March 09, 2010 at 11:16 AM


TRUST just like RESPECT is earned and not given. STOP this CRAP.

I'm tired of hearing about Kobe trusting his teammates. How about his teammates trusting themselves? How about some of those teammates concentrating and burying a wide open shot? PJ alluded to the fact that teams are slacking off Artest. As a ballplayer, you have got to feel INSULTED when a team decides you are a weak link and that they can afford to leave you open. You've got to step and bury those open shots. That's the way the game is played.

Bronxlakerfan - ignore DJ's cherry-picked stats. Look at this:

Laker fg% over the last 3 years (not counting Kobe): 46%, 48%, 48%

Cav fg% over the last 3 years (not counting Lebron): 48%, 46%, 43%


Until this year, Kobe's teammates were training shots better than Lebron's teammates were...and Lebron was still passing the ball and trusting his teammates more. In fact, Kobe's teammates have shot better than Lebron's teammates in EVERY year that Lebron has been in the league until this year. Yet Lebron has had more assists than Kobe every single year. Figure that one out.

LA Guy

"Until this year, Kobe's teammates were training shots better than Lebron's teammates were...and Lebron was still passing the ball and trusting his teammates more. In fact, Kobe's teammates have shot better than Lebron's teammates in EVERY year that Lebron has been in the league until this year. Yet Lebron has had more assists than Kobe every single year. Figure that one out."

Run a Kobe-iso at the top of the key and make Lebron run the triangle every single play. Who do you think will have a higher APG?

I think with the taunting foul not called with Barnes fake passing the ball to Kobe's face was punk. I think Kobe did a great job of not flinching but in hindsight it happened so fast I would have loved to see move towards the ball and let it hit him in the forehead. Flagrant foul would have to have been called.

Thanks for your sharing my friend

As my opinion ,The Pal Gasol is the key of win

At present, All play good job expect for Derek Fisher

Pau Gasol is the X Reason of Lakers

If He play well, Laker will win


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