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Lakers' Ron Artest and Phil Jackson seeking consistency throughout rest of the season

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It's been a "roller coaster ride so far," said Lakers forward Ron Artest, summing up the Lakers season. At one point, the acceleration became too much to handle.

Artest wasn't speaking specifically about his own situation, instead lumping his arrival in the offseason into "all the excitement that was around this season," with the Lakers having a strong chance to repeat their 2009 championship run.

Artest certainly fed into it, introducing himself at his introductory news conference, where he talked about things including TMZ, his idol Michael Jackson, the infamous Brawl at the Palace and, of course, joining the Lakers.

The excitement continued as the Lakers coasted through the early part of the season. They didn't suffer double-digit losses until late January, and it initially appeared the road to repeat would be as easy as taking a victory lap.

But then the reality of the 82-game season set in, the point where team success often is based on knowing how to pace through the grind rather than on winning on talent. That, of course, becomes a bigger factor when complacency kicks into gear, an attitude Artest says he felt he partially contributed to.

"It was easy. That’s how it was early. We kept saying it. I kept saying that," Artest said after practice Sunday in El Segundo. "Instead of saying we got to get better and saying we have a tough game ahead of us, we kept reflecting on the last game. That was too easy. Now we’re playing like we’re being hunted instead of playing like we’re being on top."

The standings certainly reflect that. The Lakers (48-18) lead the Western Conference by a narrow margin, holding only a three-game lead over Denver (45-21), a three-and-a-half game edge over Dallas (45-22) and six-game cushion over Utah (42-24). And that race with Cleveland for the best record? The Cavaliers (52-15) are pretty comfortable with that, making it probably the only time in history the Lakers rooted for the Boston in its game Sunday against the Cavaliers. But it was to no avail. Cleveland beat the Celtics, 104-93, and Boston has been left justifying its season by reading a column from Times columnist Bill Plaschke that criticizes the Lakers' lack of urgency. It left them thinking, at least it's not just us who are playing poorly.

And as far as the Lakers being in a tight race for playoff seedings? Artest acknowledged the reality that the Lakers could' have avoided that scenario.

"At the beginning of the season, nobody had a chance and then we gave everybody a chance," he said. "So now it’s like, 'OK, let’s go back and play the right way.' We’ll do that and we’ll be OK now. I think we’ll be OK. That last game got us moving in the right direction."

The Lakers hope that continues Monday against Golden State (18-47) after winning the last two games against Toronto and Phoenix. With 16 games remaining in the regular season, the Lakers are measuring wins beyond what it means in the standings race. They're also measuring how each game helps sharpen their development for the playoffs. Case in point, Lakers guard Kobe Bryant lauded the team's effort last week in a loss to Orlando, criticized the team's defense after bailing out the Lakers with his sixth game- winner Tuesday against Toronto and then credited the team's effort again against Phoenix.

By no means was the Lakers' victory against the Suns perfect. But the Lakers think that signature road victory at least laid the foundation. Artest is putting the goal at an undefeated streak the rest of the way. Center Andrew Bynum thinks the Lakers need to reach 60 victories. This may be lofty thinking, perhaps, but it isn't such an absurd concept when you consider Dallas went on 13-game winning streak before losing Saturday to New York. Also, Cleveland has gone 9-1 in the last 10 games and has clinched a playoff berth. And other playoff contenders in Orlando and Denver have gone 8-2 in the last 10 contests.

Then look at the remaining schedule and see how many of the contenders' remaining games are against playoff opponents: the Lakers, eight of 16; Cleveland, seven of 15; Dallas, six of 15; Denver, nine of 16 and Utah, six of 16. With the strength of schedule relatively even, games such as the Lakers' next four games against Golden State, Sacramento, Minnesota and Washington shouldn't just be gimme victories, they should be momentum builders.

It's exactly the hope Lakers Coach Phil Jackson has for his club, and we'll find out as soon as Monday night how it's executed.

-- Mark Medina

Follow the L.A. Times Lakers blog on Twitter. E-mail the Lakers blog at [email protected]

Photo: Ron Artest puts on the brakes as Suns forward-center Louis Amundson cuts off his drive in the second half Friday night. Credit: Matt York / Associated Press

 
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THE Most Valuable NBA Franchise: $$$$$$$$ THE Freakin World Champion LA Lakers
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MON. MAR. 15, 2010 - LAKERS @ WARRIORS
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http://tinyurl.com/ylc9dvd http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-rTqkjWUqdo
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THE EGGS IS JIGGLIN
Next up Golden State & what can I say, it’s a game, I hope a win and it’s away
The Lakers are finally beginning to jell, The game at Phoenix was played pretty well
Everybody got a chance to shoot, Pau’s getting a rep for being dirty to boot
Now we have 4 with their game face on, Kobe, Pau, LO & of course Ron Ron.
The team has their timing just about right, By playoff time the D will be tight
The D will be tight & the team will be well, Ugh, Ugh NBA get ready for Hell.
It’s about time your doubts should be gone, Let’s start putting those game faces on
Some teams look dangerous for 1 game, over a 7 game series they are all the same
They will play out of their heads for a game or 2, But it’s futile cause their best won’t do
They’ll try for a knockout & we won’t blink, Their Heart & Bravado will slowly sink
They had hoped they could get in a lucky shot, But all they will get is 4 and out.
Floyd Mayweather and Mannie Pacquaio, Aint got nothing on The Lakers “Y’all”
They’ll finally admit as their playoffs end, The Freaking LA Lakers are some Bad, Bad Men
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WHO ARE WE?...ALL TOGETHER NOW:
We’re the World Champion LA Lakers , we’ve won 15 Rings
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That’s 2 better than any NBA team ever had before
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He scored more points than an entire team without even trying
He scored 81 points in a game & could have scored more
But Rings not number of points is what he plays for.
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That’s just a summary of our Resume, we don’t talk we Do.
We’re The Freaking Champion Lakers, Who the Hell are You

Mamba24,

Love the roll-call. Always inspiring. Count me in for the “FO” “FO” “FO” “FO” Bandwagon.


Signs of spring, harbingers of good things to come, are evident in nature and the arts. On the Lakers blog our sign is Sonny Belfast. Like Spartacus, he battled his way out of troll status and became blog elite.

When Sonny roars in spring, Lakers win. It's not bio chrono, but it's equally reliable.

Today is game day. RonRon is another player on the Laker watch where the repeat goal depends. Without RonRon, Lakers have no consistent defender and executioner. I wish LO, Pau and Drew will copy a little from the RonRon style of defense. He has been slowed down by plantar faciitis but gradually like Kobe, they're going back to their normal game. Unfortunately, most fans do not understand what an injury is? They have high expectation of Artest and always revisit the botched exchange on Ariza-Artest. Please put this into a rest. Ariza left the Lakers willingly and taking the advice of his shrewd agent. Right now, he's not in good terms with his new Coach and the Rockets. Please do not blame Artest for the failed re-signing of Ariza. It was Artest who saved the day for the Lakers. Artest could have signed with Cleveland and Ariza with the Rockets and Lakers are left with nothing.

Tonight will be a sure W but tomorrow against the Kings might be a problem due to b2b games. I hope the Lakers are no longer made out of delicate egg shells, they could handle b2b games. During our prime, we play basketball from sunrise to dusk without any pay but more daily rant from our concerned parents in allocation of our priorities.

*
THE FREAKIN CHAMPION LAKERS 16 – 0 + ‘FO’ ‘FO’ ‘FO’ ‘FO’ - BANDWAGON
**** (16 – 0 REST OF REGULAR SEASON) + ( ‘FO’, ‘FO’, ‘FO’, ‘FO” IN PLAYOFFS)
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(01) CORNER-J – OWNER/TROLL GUNNER - We need a "16-0 BANDWAGON". And I'm not just talking about the rest of the regular season...playoffs, baby! Put me down as Troll Patrol Gunner on the Bandwagon.
(02) VMAN – DRIVER - Time to break out the annual FO' FO' FO' FO' Bandwagon. Unlike the the 16-0 wagaon, it accepts any combination of FO' wins times FO'. If the formula is applied to it's potential, the result is a parade.
(03) RICK FRIEDMAN - RIDING SHOTGUN – Count me in.
(04) # 4
(05) MAMBA24 – If Moses Malone could say to Dr. J , we go 4, 4,4,4 and they almost did
Then why or why can’t I
(06) LAKERTOM

Lakers won against the Suns because of the sturdy defense from the unexpected like Pau and LO. We need similar consistency. Beware of the Warriors perimeter shooting, they're better long shooters than post plays. Their weakness is rebounds because they have no legitimate center, these are Turiaf, Vlade and Biedrins.

Lakers perimeter shooting saved our day in Phoenix, can we always rely of D'Fish? I doubt. Do we expect Kobe to do the job? No way. It has to be a team game. Use our height advantage in the post and make those free throws. If the perimeter shooting makes any kind of contribution to the game, that would be gravy.

Warriors and Kings are sub par teams below .500. However, you won't expect them to just surrender without any resistance. In fact, this is their opportunity opened for this season - defeat the Lakers and tanked games to get into low draft pick chances. They like to beat the Lakers in order to weed out those Laker fans on their stadiums.

Sonny, are you still in Southeast Asia? I think Jon K. should try this area of the world. He will be treated there as a king, literally as a King not a King's fan.

Mamba24, what happened to our Blog Goddess? no more new posts coming from Italy. She found a new hobby or hubby.

Edwin,

I know Zaira has been snowboarding this past weekend so she hasn't been able to post stuff on the blog. I believe she'll be back shortly. She sent some words of encouragement through Twitter to pass along to Jon K, which I did in a previous thread.

MM

Mamba24, what happened to our Blog Goddess? no more new posts coming from Italy. She found a new hobby or hubby.Posted by: Edwin Gueco | March 15, 2010 at 10:17 AM

Sad to say Edwin just like a lot of the other regulars she got tired of battling with the Trolls so she said she was going to take a little break
Mamba24

Sonny, are you still in Southeast Asia? I think Jon K. should try this area of the world. He will be treated there as a king, literally as a King not a King's fan. Posted by: Edwin Gueco | March 15, 2010 at 10:13 AM

No, No, No! Jon K. must come to L.A. & he must come soon!

Edwin Gueco,

"I think Jon K. should try this area of the world."

The closest I've been to Southeast Asia was the two weeks I spent on Hainan Island off the coast of Vietnam.

I'd sure like to travel again. It's not only fun, but essential to an individual's personal and spiritual development.

Road trips can be a grind, but they are also great bonding experiences and remind one of the virtues of home. I see why Phil Jackson sees our road trips as an opportunity instead of a crisis.

What do we play for? RINGS!!!

Lakers Today... Lakers Tomorrow... Lakers Forever.

GO LAKERS!!!!

Hey guys a new post is up with the morning links. Congrats to Jon K for making reader comment of the day

MM

Thank God it's game day.

I was getting the shakes.

What do we play for? RINGS!!!

Lakers Today... Lakers Tomorrow... Lakers Forever.

GO LAKERS!!!

Mark Medina,

Thanks, a lot.

What do we play for? RINGS!!!

Lakers Today... Lakers Tomorrow... Lakers Forever.

GO LAKERS!!!

Mamba24,

Loved today's roll call.

What do we play for? RINGS!!!!

Lakers Today... Lakers Tomorrow... Lakers Forever.

GO LAKERS!!!

Why am I not in the roll call? :(

JON K, JON K, HE'S THE READER COMMENT OF THE DAY
HIP, HIP, HOORAY, HIP, HIP HOORAY
YEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!

MAMBA24 - Love your passion and verses, as always! We all may disagree on certain aspects of OUR team, but we are all UNITED IN LOVING OUR LAKERS! You keep us all a tight unit, all together in our love. We may all disagree on what is best for our team, but the reason we do so as passionately or heated as we do is because we are PASSIONATE ABOUT OUR TEAM!

You help remind us that we are all on the same side, we are all LAKER FANS and united, not divided. The most KNOWLEDGEABLE GROUP OF FANS IN THE NBA! THATS WHY I LOVE THE ROLL CALLS!

- - -

hobbitmage, Michael H: I've followed you guys' posts on the inside-out, Kobe shot selection debate over the last couple threads, I totally support hobbitmage.

I'd like to add another reason why an 'inside-out' type game wouldn't be effective as it was say during the Shaq era in L.A. - Pau is many times set at the high-post, or somewhere out between the free-throw line and 3-pt line. Obviously, he is nowhere as deep into the low-post like Shaq routinely was. Heck, if anything Phil should integrate more pick-and-rolls, Pau is sometimes already out setting picks at times. Bynum is a deeper presence usually, but since he is usually not a single post presence because of Pau, he is on one side or another and a traditional inside-out game with a single inside presence is not as effective.

It's easy though, as I've been saying for well over a month, Pau needs to become more demanding of touches. Shaq would establish great position, then he'd basically turn and flag down the ball. Bynum does that at times being the old-school type low post center he is, but Pau isn't that. If anything, Pau could have learned from Kareem as much as Bynum has, Kareem had a wiry body like Pau but he'd get to his spots, and of course convert his shots at a very high level.

Kind of went off on a tangent, but hobbitmage is exactly correct. Pau also doesn't always look to play inside out himself. Many times he gets passes, then he turns and assesses his possible shots for a second or two. He plays more facing the basket, this is yet another reason an inside-out isn't effective with him. He's should for instance be looking to feed Artest when he's open for a 3-pt shot in the corner, but going back out to just isn't going to happen as he usually turns and faces the basket.

If Pau is more demanding, actually gets into the low post and starts showing he can play an inside-out game, the Lakers would certainly run it as both backcourt mates Kobe and D-Fish have shown they can effectively run it, Artest is usually set around the 3-pt line too, same with Lamar and Farmar. Pau should really just concentrate on bringing it on D, keeping his flagrant-type frustration fouls to a minimum and stop whining about touches.

- - -

LakerTom: Looks like Phil just verified what you said about Pau's frustration flagrant-type fouls, the ones that make him look effiminate (lol). You use the excellent example of the young Bynum getting roughed up by Shaq, going right down and demanded the ball, then did an absolute classic ball-fake, and scored on him. Shaq came down and could only bully Bynum, who clearly got the better of the exchange. That one move showed me the promise that Bynum had, and the perfect temperment to handle such situations and affronts.

Pau has only shown that he can whine to the ref, if he doesn't get a call he'll come down and simply whack someone and not even go for the ball. It's funny to read that Phil had Charles Oakley talk to Pau, I had written last week that Pau is no Maurice Lucas or Charles Oakley. Scottie Pippen didn't help L.O. when he came to training camp a few years back, Charles Oakley seems to only have made Gasol into a brutish thug for the past few games. Seems like this is his way of saying 'you want to make me into a physical player, OK here you go'.

Pau has a great finesse game. He maybe should work more on his defensive fundamentals and play more physical WITHOUT resorting to cheap frustration fouls. Let the other teams get frustrated, let the other teams resort to desperate fouls. The Lakers not only are champs, but they for years have seen dirty players do that to them and have fed off of it, like Raja Bell clotheslining Kobe, for instance. It sends a message that the other team has gotten under their skin, and if anything motivates opponents it's one of those stupid flagrant fouls. His fouls coming on the heels of no-calls though are nothing like the types of physical fouls of the '80s, where no easy layups were given up. This is more like being at the park and getting hacked by some dirty player.

Come on Pau, your better than that!

- - -

Jon K: Glad to see you here and joking, keep your spirits out because things will work out for the best!

Why am I not in the roll call? :( Posted by: Brylle | March 15, 2010 at 11:02 AM
16th Line end of Row. Sorry Sir.
Mamba24

We all may disagree on certain aspects of OUR team, but we are all UNITED IN LOVING OUR LAKERS! We may all disagree on what is best for our team, but the reason we do so as passionately or heated as we do is because we are PASSIONATE ABOUT OUR TEAM! We are all on the same side, we are all LAKER FANS and united, not divided. The most KNOWLEDGEABLE GROUP OF FANS IN THE NBA! Posted by: CyberCosmiX | March 15, 2010 at 11:16 AM

Thank you sir! And...OUT FREAKIN STANDING!
MAMBA24

@JON K. Thanks buddy! Hang in there brother, good things are comming your way I just Know it.
Mamba24

Hi Mamba24 im in the roll call before but i dont see my name now,why?

Hi Mamba24 im in the roll call before but i dont see my name now,why?Posted by: Adrian Palomar |March 15, 2010 at 11:42 AM
My bad Adrian. Sorry I was shifting things around and accidently moved & deleted a few names. It's back on now in a prominent place as you will see in the next Roll Call before a game. Sorry Again.
Mamba24


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