Phil Jackson and Kobe Bryant respect but downplay Derek Fisher's criticisms about Lakers effort against Minnesota
Usually Kobe Bryant's the one with the feisty and fiery demeanor, while Derek Fisher remains the voice of reason.
But following the Lakers' 99-94 victory Tuesday over the Minnesota Timberwolves, it was Fisher who appeared the most upset. He didn't bite his tongue when he first talked with reporters after the game, including ESPN Los Angeles' Ramona Shelburne.
"The way we played tonight was irresponsible and it was reckless and it was disrespectful," Fisher said. "I can't get any clearer than that. There was an air of complacency, of arrogance, of 'we don't have to play as hard as the other team to win' that I didn't like tonight."
Bryant expressed amusement after Wednesday's practice over the line of questioning regarding the team's sluggish win agaisnt a sub. 500 team, considering the Lakers remain undefeated at 8-0 entering Thursday's contest at Denver. Nonetheless, both Lakers Coach Phil Jackson and players found little to like about the game, which featured the Lakers getting outrebounded 54-42 and the team committing 18 turnovers. Though Bryant said he didn't feel strongly one way or the other about Fisher's assessment, he made it clear he didn't feel as upset with the game as Fisher did.
"Derek, when he gets upset, his temper in a lot of ways is quicker than mine, especially when he doesn't agree with the effort being put out on the floor," Bryant said. "I think we know yesterday was a tough game for us. But I don't want to be too harsh. We've blown out bad teams this year. We've blown out good teams this year. We've been blowing everybody out. We had a tough game last night. It will be okay."
That seemed to be the theme of Wednesday's practice where the Lakers pledged to have forgotten about its poor game. Before its afternoon flight to Denver, the team spent a fairly lengthy practice, which included going over the performance against Minnesota and dissecting their mistakes in rebounding, offensive chemistry and effort. But the Lakers said they felt satisfied enough that neither the team nor Fisher needed to address his previous criticisms.
"His opinion is valued," Jackson said of Fisher, who didn't speak with reporters following Tuesday's practice. "Disrespect is a potent word in our society now. I don't know if it was total disrespect, but I think it was unconscious in lacking a real conscious effort in what we're trying to get accomplished out there. A lot of that has to do with Minnesota had a defensive plan. They executed it. And they kept us at bay."
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