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Kendrick Perkins questions Lakers' charging strategy

June 2, 2010 |  4:04 pm

The Lakers' demeanor this week may have suggested they're about to attend a museum or play an exhibition game. On the other hand, the Boston Celtics' Kendrick Perkins has bought into what the Lakers-Celtics rivalry entails. That includes trash talking.

Now in the interest of fair play, the comments I'm about to share have plenty of context to them and really don't sound as harsh as they sound. But posting this in a Lakers blog is the equivalent of hitting a hornets nest with a baseball bat and expecting not to be stung. And besides, it's much more interesting than what  anyone had to say Wednesday during the team's media day.

ESPN Los Angeles' Shelly Smith recently reported how the Lakers have offered $50 to players that take charges, and a Boston-based area reporter relayed the story to Perkins and suggested that merely camouflages the team's apparent lack of toughness.

"Like Doc [Rivers] said, you can't be something that you're not," Perkins said. "I feel like if you're a physical team, you're a physical team. If you're not, you're not. I don't think a coach should have to pay you or take the media to make you physical and get on you about being soft. If you're a physical guy, you're a physical guy."

So are the Lakers not physical? a reporter asked.

"I didn't say that," Perkins said. "All I'm hearing is about how the Lakers are trying to be physical. I'm just like, OK, that's what we like."

The Lakers have been met with questions all week about their toughness. Though I think that the Lakers' lack of toughness largely contributed to their failure to win the 2008 Finals, through time the criticism has become more and more overblown. The Lakers have taken a better effort not to allow opponents, such as Boston or Denver, to intimidate them. But the Lakers being a finesse team instead of a scrappy team doesn't suddenly mean they're not tough. And the article makes it clear the financial incentive to take charges goes back to last year, a revelation that shows the carrot hasn't really worked and demonstrates more the Lakers' inconsistent work ethic. But that doesn't mean they're not tough. If the Lakers truly lacked toughness, then they wouldn't have managed to play through numerous injuries, prevail through their late-season struggles and win close games. 

When I asked Perkins whether he's seen the addition of Ron Artest contribute to the Lakers' toughness, he hit on a theme that I think most Lakers fans would say.

Said Perkins: "I don't know. They were still the NBA champs, so they had to be tough in some kind of way to win."

--Mark Medina

Follow the L.A. Times Lakers blog on Twitter: twitter.com/latmedina. E-mail the Lakers blog at mgmedin@gmail.com


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