Lakers Now

Round-the-Clock Purple and Gold

« Previous Post | Lakers Now Home | Next Post »

Lakers keep even keel at Monday's practice

Mostly everyone on the Lakers demonstrated in their own way that their five-game losing streak isn't making them stress out.

Coach Phil Jackson let out a laugh and smiled to open up his interview following Monday's practice. Guard Kobe Bryant sneered at the idea their latest struggles will doom their chances of three-peating. And forward Pau Gasol slightly backed away from his declaration that the team's two remaining regular season games are must-win and instead praised the team's increased "focus."

That doesn't necessarily change the reality that the Lakers are facing. They're tied with the Dallas Mavericks at 55-25 for second in the West, while the Thunder (54-26) is only a game behind them. Though the Lakers hold both a tiebreaker over Dallas after locking up the Pacific Division and over Oklahoma City after finishing 2-1 in the regular-season series, that's not making the Lakers comfortable. Although Jackson told his team not to pay attention to the Eastern Conference teams because it promotes looking ahead to a possible NBA Finals matchup, it's hard not to notice the Miami Heat (56-25) have a one-game edge over the Lakers, while Boston (55-25) remains tied. But at least, according to the Lakers, they made the right step in correcting their problems before Tuesday's game against the San Antonio Spurs.

"From one day, no," Bryant said. "But we're getting there."

Jackson began the practice stressing he liked the team's effort and execution for the first 44 minutes of the Lakers' 120-106 loss Sunday against Oklahoma City. The Lakers unraveled with a 17-2 lapse and nine turnovers in the final quarter. So the team went back to the beginning, dividing up the frontline and backcourt and ensuring there's no miscommunication and lapse in timing on defensive rotations.

Not everyone was happy, with center Andrew Bynum saying, "we are still needing to have a good practice" because Monday's session didn't feature any full-court scrimmages. But that doesn't jibe  with Jackson's desire to rest the starters. It also doesn't jibe with the reality that Matt Barnes is considered to be still recovering from his surgically repaired right knee and missed Monday's practice, Steve Blake was also absent, because of a fever, and Devin Ebanks remained sidelined because of an injured left tibia.

That didn't prevent Jackson from reviewing film and going over defensive drills so that the Lakers improve what he called their "mental focus," an issue he said also affected his 1992-93 Chicago Bulls team that lost three of its last five regular-season games before defending their NBA Championship.

"It's a subliminal part of them saying we have to save it for the best, which is later on," Jackson said. "At their age, it's understandable."

Meanwhile, the Lakers don't have much to draw from in terms of late-season adversity. The Lakers championship years mostly featured strong finishes in April, including the seasons in 1999-2000 (6-3), 2000-2001 (8-1), 2001-2002 (6-3) and 2008-09 (7-1). The only exception was last season, when they finished 3-3. But that featured much different circumstances.

"Last year we didn't know what the hell was going on." Bryant said. "We had a lot of injuries. My knee needed to be operated on. There were a lot of question marks. This year we don't really have any question marks. These are executional things. These are correctional things. They're correctable errors so from that standpoint we feel comfortable about it. You don't really see anybody here feeling like it's doom and gloom. These are problems that can be corrected and will be corrected."

Still, even if the Lakers' five-game losing streak hasn't happened since March 2007, they can lean on past bumps to suggest this is nothing to be concerned about.

"I'm sure some of it has a little bit to do with it, the fact that we've been through a lot of things before," Bryant said. "Everybody wants to put the nail in the coffin, but we've been there before so it doesn't bother us."

--Mark Medina

E-mail the Lakers blog at mgmedin@gmail.com

 
Comments () | Archives (30)

The comments to this entry are closed.

These will be tough playoffs - it's something of a golden era for the NBA. So many great players and teams. This 3-peat will be the tougher than the last one. But it isn't supposed to be easy, even though Laker fans take winning a title for granted, and judge on style-points ("they should have won 70 games," "That series shouldn't have gone 6 games!")


There are a lot of teams trying to win a title out there, and quite a few of them doing a good job of it (Miami, Chi, Boston, San Antone and OKC to name a few.). The Lakers have been to 3 finals in a row, and some of these guys are getting a bit long in the tooth (Kobe, Ron Ron and Fish Fish are all somewhere in the declining phase of their careers).


I feel lucky just to be a Laker fan (since the sixties)and to have seen so many great teams and players, and to have a team this year that has as good a chance as any to win it all. I don't feel like, damn, we should win every game and go 16-o in the playoffs. They don't hand out titles, and this one will be harder earned than most, whoever wins it.


I hope it's the Lakers. But they (we) aren't entitled to the trophy, they'll have to earn it. Which is what makes it fun.

As playoff contributor to this blog since 2008 and having personally witnessed 10 rings - I don't know anything about playing with "urgency." What I know is that the winning three in a row is not the norm. Magic couldn't do it, neither could Larry or Tim. It's exhausting - emotionally yes, but also physically to a team that has played a truck load of extra games in gettiing to three consecutive finals.

If I was to be intellectually honest - I just can't fault the team for not winning it this year. As long as Boston does not win it -- It's all good. I think people's expectations get wacked out -- the reality is that there are more rested teams with more motivation ready to take it --

Also, if the Lakers do win it, I would hate to see what their regular season will be like next year or whenever they play again. I'm not sure if getting rewarded for taking half the season off is such a good idea.

Hello Lakers Nation,

Is it me or is it the fact that I hate to see my team lose? Can't wait for the payoffs.

TD,

Have been a Laker fan myself since Jer and Elg. I was pretty young then, ha, ha. I support the guys and we'll see how it all turns out. I do think the team has some issues that it needs to address next season, but for now, go Lakers!

@Tom Daniels

Great post! Its going to be hard, but fun and Lakers will end up on top with another ring

Pullleeeze, if anyone else cites age as an excuse for the Lakers I'm going to puke!

Just look at all the old geezers that made up the San Antonio Spurs! They have the BEST record in basketball and they bring it EVERY single night, even against crappy teams.

YES, the Lakers should have won 70 games.

YES, the Lakers should have broken the Bulls record.

YES, the Lakers, not the Spurs should have the best record in basketball.

YES, they should be mowing down teams in the PO.

NO, these are not fantasies or dreams or some unrealistic expectation. The Lakers proved that by going what 7-0 (or something like that) to start the season and they went 17-1 to start the second half of the season. Doesn't take a math genius to extrapolate that for the whole season.

For all we know the Lakers may go 16-0 in the PO to win it all in easy fashion. But what are the odds of that, given their inconsistent effort and motivation?

Based on their last five games the odds are GREATER that they will go 0-4 and being bounced out of the first round.

@Tom Daniels - excellent post. As a NBA diehard, nothing beats the playoffs. I'm looking forward to some great series. The Lakers have come back to the pack some and other teams have improved, all making this year playoffs more intriguing. Count me among those that still believe this team despite the recent losing streak will get it done.


@psycorp - I think you've over estimate this Lakers team and under estimate the competition.

Interesting to hear young Drew not satisfied with today's practice. But like PJ said you can't go hard when Pau, Kobe and DFish need rest, and Blake, Barnes and Ebanks are recovering from sickness or injuries. Anyway its good to hear Drew is hungry for more.

Let's analyze this for a second. The Lakers are champs for the last two years. They haven't lost any key players. As a matter of fact they supposedly improved a little bit on their bench. The players are also healthier with their franchise player healthier than at this point last year as well as their center. They have also proved that they could beat the crap out of ANY team in the league WHEN they wanted to. Last but not least they are not just the BEST team in the league they have their #1 payroll to prove that also.

Pardon me if I have somewhat of an expectation issue here!

Here's some crocodile tears for those who insist on EXCUSES after EXCUSES after EXCUSES...

ps: I can just imagine being Dr. Jerry Buss paying his employees REAL money for their FAKE efforts. I truly feel sorry for him and for the fans who pay REAL money as well.

@LRob - Sure I too believe that this team is 100% capable of winning it all again. I believe 100% in their physical talent and basketball skill. I believe 100% that no other team can match them.

Too bad I can't say I believe the same about their heart and desire.

The entire playoffs for this team will be like watching Game 7 of last year's finals. They'll give up the early leads, get close, fall behind and in the end, win the series. It will be a nail biter through and through. This will also be the hardest fought championship this organization will have ever faced.

This is going to be a very difficult run so get ready for "game 7 in last year's finals" suspense and anxiety throughout the playoff series but if any team can do it, it will be this proven championship squad! Just getting to the finals is going to quite an accomplishment - 4th visit in as many years.

If they get that far - and today, they are still the odds on favorite to win it all - I just don't see them losing once they get there. Ahhhh, but enough speculation, analysis and criticism. Our questions will be answered very shortly beginning next weekend because the Playoffs are practically here. Let’s Get It On!!


"Everything about the Lakers is geared toward winning playoff games. It's what they do." J.A. Adande


"Even when we didn’t make the playoffs, I thought we'd win the championship." Dr. Buss


"...they're shaking like virgins on prom night... Faithdalakerfan


Go Lakers & In Buss We Trust!!

You know what I believe? I believe Kobe when he says that their problems are all correctable. I believe that.

Like I said earlier: This team didn't just *forget* how to play unbeatable basketball. I believe we'll be seeing a dominate Lakers squad when the playoffs roll around. I don't expect them to win every game -- although I believe they're capable of doing just that -- but I do expect them to win every series. And I don't care whether they do it in 4 or 7. I just care that they do it, period. I believe.

Go Lake Show!

Beat SA tomorrow especially in a fashion near that of March and the only question will be - where do we play in June?

We have seen this soap opera in every season since 08, no exceptions. We almost lost all along the way. Denver came close. Houston came close. OKC gave a scare. One year Utah. Over and over and we are a better team now than we were then even though our bench is too short - we have a real center with real hops this year.

Kobe is a bit mildewed. Ron is a ring a ding as always. But Lamar is playing his best, Pau is solid and plays up to the situation and Bynum has yet to turn on the afterburners.

Beat SA. Take 2nd. Avoid Denver. Plow through the West and don't worry about hca because there is none if you win in 6 or less. Get ready for the Post Season roller coaster ride. Again.

Playoff format question:
I heard a few times that the Lakers can possibly fall to 4th seed in the playoffs. Did they change the format this year? I thought the first 3 seeds are reserved for the 3 division champions. If Dallas end up with a better record than the Lakers, wouldn't the Lakers still get the 3 seed regardless?

ps: I can just imagine being Dr. Jerry Buss paying his employees REAL money for their FAKE efforts. I truly feel sorry for him and for the fans who pay REAL money as well.

Posted by: Psycorp | April 11, 2011 at 04:43 PM

=====

Not that I pay any attention to a poser like you other than for comedic purposes, but I pay REAL money and have a great time at the practice games and I am spoiled rotten by the success of these Lakers over the past FOUR seasons. Did you read that, poser? I AM SPOILED ROTTEN AND I AM BLESSED AND I HAVE GOTTEN WAY MORE THAN MY MONEY'S WORTH. ("WAY" in bold print, italicized in 24 point font) How's that, poser? :)

"Playoff format question:
I heard a few times that the Lakers can possibly fall to 4th seed in the playoffs. Did they change the format this year? I thought the first 3 seeds are reserved for the 3 division champions. If Dallas end up with a better record than the Lakers, wouldn't the Lakers still get the 3 seed regardless?

Posted by: mti312 | April 11, 2011 at 05:02 PM "

It goes by overall record but if you're a division champion, you're guaranteed to get no lower than the 4th seed. If Dallas finishes with a better record, they can be ahead of LA even though they didn't win a division.

okay Jon K., I need to hear the "almost gotten eaten by a bear" story!

@LRob
My first selection of ther day:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jOJ5kntI_GM

Boston doesn't make it, nor do the Lakers. Finals appear to be Chicago or Miami, or the winner of OKC, Denver.

We have no scoring ability outside of 3 players. Some of these bench riders are going, going, gone in June.

Just think you'll get your tax rebate, about the time you get your playoff return check.

"But Lamar is playing his best, Pau is solid and plays up to the situation and Bynum has yet to turn on the afterburners."

Posted by: Noah Bench | April 11, 2011 at 04:58 PM

_____________

Great point "Noah..." More reason to be optimistic. This team is "loaded" and Vegas knows it!

I had a crazy political science teacher my senior year in high school.
The last day of the school year, he would bust out his wild lifestyle pictures of himself back in the day.
The grand prize was a pic of him in a wrestling rink with a bear.
His most notorious job was when he was a writer for high times.
Giving that claim, can I beleive his wrestling story?
Who cares? It was a great story, even if it may, or may not have been true.

@hopalong

Don't you remember our team limping into the playoffs last year? And that was without going 17_1 after the All Star break.
I'm not jumpin ship- we still have all of the tools to get it done.

@hopalong

Don't you remember our team limping into the playoffs last year? And that was without going 17_1 after the All Star break.
I'm not jumpin ship- we still have all of the tools to get it done.

Posted by: mclyne | April 11, 2011 at 05:29 PM

I couldn't agree more...win our last 2 and let the games begin!

My first selection of ther day:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jOJ5kntI_GM

Posted by: mclyne | April 11, 2011 at 05:20 PM
----------------

mclyne - The Come Back is around the corner...unfortunately some can't see it and are feeling a little "disenchanted" right now....what's a boy to do!


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZbwwRDHwXz0

Before the day is over, I'd like to greet DBDH Happy Anniversary in the halcyon days where we don't have anymore bandwagon for people celebrating their anniversaries, birthdays etc. I think we have come a long way and treat ourselves better than just talking about the Lakers, of course we are here because of the Lakers but lately, they're not showing any signs of competition.

As I said earlier, nobody would know what's going on with the Lakers, is this a ploy or real? If it is just a ploy, they should have won games against the Jazz and GS, so they could just give away the contenders some confidence while Lakers go on a rest mode. What they really need now is honing skills for the playoffs, avoiding injuries and employing new tactics that have never been seen before. If this is real, then we would like to thank the organization for bringing us fans three Finals and two Championship parades, too bad it didn't go for the third time. You see, only few teams are given that opportunity to have three peat and a 2nd three peat. To put that kind of winning record requires a lot talents and dominance of the league. If it is real, save the fans from further heartaches and more headaches in making a rosy scenario or a bleak future, let's do it quick and move on. As Laker Mike said, which side will u take the Hare or the Chicken Little? I say, let's go on with the ride although being a realistic blogger, I conclude that the future never takes care of itself, if they want to compete they should take care of it now.

@LRob
NICE!!! My favorite track from "Obe by One."

Here's to knowing that my team will "Come Alive" once the real season begins:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Zpzy77u6hM

I AM SPOILED ROTTEN AND I AM BLESSED AND I HAVE GOTTEN WAY MORE THAN MY MONEY'S WORTH. ("WAY" in bold print, italicized in 24 point font) How's that, poser? :)

Posted by: KobeMVP888 | April 11, 2011 at 05:11 PM

Is it in Comic Sans?

Division champs are only used for tie-breaking scenarios. The # 1 factor is overall record.

I hear what Tom Daniels and other bloggers are saying about how difficult it is going to be for this Lakers team to three-peat but I still think there are sound reasons to expect the Lakers to dominate once the playoffs begin and return to being the great team that went 17-1 after the all-star break.

First, there is no team in the NBA that can beat the Lakers when they bring their A-game and there is no way you can convince me that this group of players won’t be ready to play once the playoffs start. In fact, I’m so sure I’m spending hundreds of dollars to fly down to LA to see Game 1 at Staples with iheartbk24, KobeMVP888, and htj. These guys have shown up 2 years in a row to become champions. I’m betting they will show up again and if they do, all bets are off because nobody can beat them.

Second, the playoffs are entirely different animal than the regular season. Over a 7-game series, advantages like the Lakers have in size and length and experience are greatly magnified while team disadvantages like lack of size and length and inexperienced are mercilessly attacked. Hot shooting, unfair officiating, and the bounce of the ball tend to even out. The playoffs favor the better team and make it hard for the underdog to pull of an upset. I don’t think any team can beat us in 7-games.

Third, this team is built for the playoffs to the extent that sometimes it stumbles and struggles as team after team get up for a chance to upset the champs. Ron Artest’s defense and Derek Fisher’s clutch shooting become big pluses for the Lakers once the playoffs start. Phil Jackson’s coaching savvy in the playoffs is unmatched as he tightens his rotations and manages the series. And the coup is having a healthy, focused Andrew Bynum to anchor the half court defense that dominates the playoffs

Bottom line, I don’t think it is being a homer to suggest that the Lakers will roll through these playoffs like the 2001 Lakers. Nor is it naïve. It’s just understanding that the real games just haven’t started for this group of players and as arrogant and frustrating as that may be, most smart analysts, once you get past their hit seeking headlines, are still putting their money on the Lakers to three-peat. For me, it’s pretty simple. Nobody is going to beat a focused Lakers team with a healthy Andrew Bynum.
…………………………………………
TOM

mclyne,

As I explained to Mark Medina, I was hiking alone up a desert canyon between 29 Palms and Palm Springs. Beautiful place. A stream runs through the canyon. Just gorgeous.

I was about four miles off trail up the canyon and I turned a corner and found a 500 pound black bear staring at me from about 15 yards away.

I put on my shirt, quickly sprained my ankle, and got the heck out of there.

It kind of ruined the hike.

Now I've got to go back next week with pepper spray or bear mace or something to face my fear. I'm not going to let some stupid bear ruin my ability to do things that potentially risk my life.

Anyhow, I drove back to L.A. with the game on the radio, caught the second half a Dubliner's in Downtown L.A. and during "the collapse" some toolbag with bad breath kept rambling in my ear about how Bush created 9/11, America was a bad place and Switzerland was the greatest as I tried to ignore him. I really had to hold back my temper.

Kind of a bad day.

What do we play for? RINGS!!!

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

GO LAKERS!!!

It sucks to see my Lakers struggle like this to win games down the stretch,especially in Heat country, which their coming off a big win.But i have faith in our beloved lakers will turn things around in the playoff and win another championship.

Go Lakers!


Connect

Advertisement

In Case You Missed It...

Video

All Things Lakers »

Your database for all things purple and gold.

Find a Laker

Search a name

Select a season

Choose one of our lists



Categories


Archives
 

About the Bloggers


Bleacher Report | Lakers

Reader contributions from Times partner Bleacher Report

More Lakers on Bleacher Report »



Get Alerts on Your Mobile Phone

Sign me up for the following lists:


In Case You Missed It...