Phil Jackson worried about upcoming games against the Clippers and Thunder
Fearful that the Lakers have developed false comfort during their seven-game winning streak, Lakers Coach Phil Jackson avoided giving the team the day off Saturday and devoted practice to plenty of film study for the team's upcoming game Sunday against the Clippers.
For how much the Lakers (30-11) credited their improved defense, improved focus and improved chemistry during the team's seven-game winning streak, Jackson didn't feel impressed one bit about the Lakers' 100-88 victory Friday over the New Jersey Nets. That's why he didn't sound too optimistic about the Lakers' (30-11) matchups Sunday with the Clippers (won eight of their last 13 games) and Oklahoma City (gave the Lakers a tough test in the first round of the 2010 NBA playoffs).
"I'm not comfortable with either of the two games tomorrow or Monday," Jackson said Saturday at the Lakers' facility in El Segundo. "It's why we had a practice today. We're concerned. We didn't think we played well last night, but we got away with a win anyway. There's a natural tendency to relax after winning a couple games. There's not the same intensity. You have to be very careful of that as a player and coach."
Among those concerns include the fact the Lakers' matchup Sunday with the Clippers start at 12:30 p.m., meaning the team's routine will adjust including no shootaround and ensuring everyone has a good night's rest on a Saturday evening.
"I told Pau [Gasol] to go home right now and go to sleep," Jackson said, considering Gasol missed a morning shootaround prior to the Lakers' 104-85 loss Jan. 2 to the Memphis Grizzlies after oversleeping. "But nobody else, did I discuss it with."
Why just Gasol? a reporter asked.
"He has a hard time getting going in the morning," Jackson said with a smile. "He's on Spanish time. They eat their meals at 11 o'clock at night."
But in another sign that his marriage to reality T.V. star Khloe Kardashian has sparked a more disciplined routine, Lakers forward Lamar Odom doesn't envision the early tip time being an issue for him. He recalled playing in one unspecified afternoon game in New York after not sleeping at all. But with Odom describing he and Khloe as "early birds" because his wife usually wakes up at 7 a.m., he plans to go to sleep early.
"I'm a little older now," Odom said. "I'm definitely going to sleep. That's what a beautiful home and a beautiful wife is for, you get to sleep."
Whether that remains enough to hold off the Clippers seems uncertain for Jackson.
"They're playing with a lot of energy and have a lot of offensive firepower," he said. "We know we're going to have to play well to win consistently against the teams that we're playing."
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Photo: Lakers forward Lamar Odom and guard Kobe Bryant celebrate after their 100-88 victory over New Jersey on Friday night at Staples Center. Credit: Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times