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Lakers vow to change flipping-the-switch mentality

A half hour passed and Lakers assistant Chuck Person still remained on the practice court talking with Andrew Bynum, Pau Gasol and Theo Ratliff.

They often stood in a semicircle pointing out in various directions on the floor. In one sequence, Person went over the timing and direction in making entry passes into the lane. And in another moment, Gasol and Bynum conversed about where to pivot and post up.

They appeared to be pretty basic concepts, something that's head scratching the Lakers need to do considering their veteran experience and because there's only three games left in the regular season. But with the Lakers (55-24) entering Sunday's matchup against the Oklahoma City Thunder (53-26) with a four-game losing streak, the Lakers are eager to find anything to help stop the recent struggles. It also deviates from the team's recent attitude, one Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said lacked effort and believed it could turn off and on its intensity whenever it's necessary.

"I’m not a fan of it," Gasol said of the Lakers' flipping the switch mentality. "We shouldn’t rely on that. It seems like it’s been that way sometimes with our team and it shouldn’t. We’re better than that. We’re a better team than that. We owe it to ourselves more than anything so we always should keep it on. You’re not going to play your best every night. You’re not going to be 100% every night. It’s not going to go right every night. But to lose three or four games in a row a few times shouldn’t happen, not with this team."

That's plagued the Lakers considering they downplayed the carrot in obtaining home-court advantage, showing little reaction to falling short in having that edge over San Antonio (60-19). But that's actually what Jackson believed served the triggering point, claiming unnamed players believed it was mathematically impossible to catch San Antonio following the Lakers' loss to Denver last Sunday, and, in Jackson's eyes, "stopped playing hard."

"It just takes a very small amount like that to change the outcome of games," Jackson said."You get surprised and all of a sudden you’re in jeopardy. You’re in trouble.”

So much in trouble that it's not even safe to say the Lakers have the No. 2 seed locked up in the West. The Lakers hold only a two-game advantage over Dallas (54-25) and a one-game edge over Oklahoma City (53-26). Then there's the fight for home-court advantage over Miami (55-24) and Boston (55-24) in case they meet in the NBA Finals, though that possibility fell short to Chicago (59-20). The Lakers are now endorsing that goal, but even the significance of that comes with a qualifier. Consider Gasol's dubious argument on what it means for the Lakers to have Game 7 of the 2010 NBA Finals against Boston at Staples Center. "We could’ve done it if we had the game and home court advantage in their favor," Gasol said.

That's doubtful considering the Lakers had to overcome a 13-point deficit, a nearly impossible task to accomplish in a title clinching game at TD Garden. Still, at least the Lakers are showing more tangible signs they care about the remaining three regular season games against Oklahoma City (Sunday), San Antonio (Tuesday) and Sacramento (Wednesday). In addition to Gasol, Bynum, Ratliff and Person going over post play, everyone else on the team took part in extra individual shooting, the exception being Kobe Bryant since he sits out most practices to rest his surgically repaired right knee.

There's surely plenty of areas to correct, starting with the lack of communication that affected the Lakers' inside game in the team's 93-86 loss Friday to the Portland Trail Blazers. That game featured Gasol scoring only eight points on four-of-11 shooting, Bynum fighting through the intestinal flu and finishing with only three points and six rebounds before fouling out and neither giving up much of a defensive effort. The Lakers' four-game losing streak also featured the team shooting 134 of 329 from the field (40.7%), a statistic that points to poor ball movement, poor shot selection and poor communication in running the offense. And then there's the Lakers committing 73 turnovers through those four games, an average of 18.25 per game and a problem Jackson points to, you guessed it, a "lack of communication." Usually action speaks louder than words in solving problems. But in this case, the Lakers' lack of words have contributed to the lack of action, but at least the extra work and extra talking is a step. It's much more engagement than the Lakers have offered in the past four games.

"The bottom line is when things are not clicking out there, you have to talk to your teammates and talk to your coaches," Lakers forward Pau Gasol said after Saturday's practice at the Lakers' facility in El Segundo. "You have to come to conclusions and be positive minded with what you need to do out there and get different perspectives. That’s always positive."

--Mark Medina

E-mail the Lakers blog at [email protected]

Comments () | Archives (11)

The comments to this entry are closed.

I like that Pau recognizes team problems, but it would be nice for him to say he played like a girl when he's obviously capable of much better. It's so easy to say it's a system problem, but that he doesn't need to point the finger at himself alone sometimes.

I hope, just like with Bynum in his earlier career, that his cavalier attitude toward his comments doesn't belie the same cavalier attitude toward playoff games. I.e., I hope what's he's saying isn't a good representation of what he's actually thinking.

The team has problems, but Pau's lack of physical intensity when he's capable of so much more is among the most glaring that I've seen over the last few games.

There's no doubt that Pau transforms into a "wet noodle" as a game progresses and he knows it. He and we also know that the team will do the necessary "talking to each other out there" in the playoffs. It's a natural evolution from regular season to the playoffs. This team is going to win and will get the rest and overhaul to the roster that this team will need during the lockout. Count on it!

I'm going for the repost here:

"The lackadaisical play is frustrating but what really counts is finally having a healthy dominant Andrew Bynum for the first time in the playoffs."


Posted by: LakerTom | April 09, 2011 at 02:02 PM

Andrew has the rest of the league "...shaking like virgins on prom night..." Faithdalakerfan

If anyone here doesn't believe that, then ask yourselves this: who hopes to play the Lakers in the playoffs?

The inspiration for Portland's win was to avoid matching up against them in the first round!

“Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win.” Sun Tzu Art of War

Again: I and others should save the criticism for the playoffs because it's a whole other animal and this team knows how to respond in the playoffs.

We have two teams in one: the regular season Lakers and the post season Lakers. The regular season Lakers did their job: they're in the playoffs now let’s give the post season Lakers a chance on winning their 3rd championship in a row out of 4 straight visits. People: that's phenomenal. This team is the most feared team in the league and for good reason.

Can this team lose? Of course they can just like any other team in the post season but the smart money has the Lakers coming out of the west. Now, we all just have to wait and see.

"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!!

Posted by: frmkt | April 09, 2011 at 05:40 PM

Posted by: frmkt | April 09, 2011 at 05:57 PM

You may want to take a vacation or take a break, because your posts are very tired.

Posted by: frmkt | April 09, 2011 at 05:57 PM

You may want to take a vacation or take a break, because your posts are very tired.

Posted by: Phoenix | April 09, 2011 at 06:10 PM

It comes down to this...

The Lakers have shown their best...No team comes close, with what they have shown was their best...

Will the Lakers play their "best" ball in the playoffs...

I think long as we are 100% whole and healthy...

Lakers Dynasty - The Next Generation...

#17 Coming Up!!!

I sure hope that the Lakers play better tomorrow against the Thunder. I am about to lose a friend, because I teased him about the Lakers losing four games in arow. "Three-peat," I said and continued. "How in the world do you expect that bunch of crappy players to win another championship the way they are playing now." They really must think that other teams are afraid of them. Who would be afraid of them? Well, most of them that is, cause everyone ought to be scared of Ron Artest. He might just pull a 45 out of his short. That crazy MF in really certified crazy. Giving away his championship ring. He could have just asked all of his team mates and friends in the NBA to contribute to his charity and done just as well. But, when you don't have them all, what can you expect. The Lakers are burnt toast. And, no one eats burnt toast, unless it is the last two pieces of bread in the loaf. Then, you scrape the burn off of it and aact like nothing happened. That's not the case with the playoffs, cause you have San Antonio and the Thunder waiting in the wings. Phill, it won't be long, buddy, and you can hit the highway on your Harley. Make sure you wear a helment. But, I'm sure you won't. Just a set of gogles is all you will have on your head, probably. I wonder if Phill gets high?

But I also expect Kobe to rise above the injuries and drive this team to another championship along with Drew, whom I predict will share Finals MVP honors with Kobe.
Posted by: LakerTom | April 09, 2011 at 04:49 PM

not again

except 2 memorable rebounding games, Bynum

shot 3-10
next game started 0-6 on FT and was blocked 3 times
next game 5-13
last game - he was out of control and out of fouls - he did not get the memo that 6 are maximum - yes, i know, there is the excuse of the stomach

but Kobe and Jordan play with upsets stomachs.

not very MVP numbers.

Looking at his "offensive" production the question is: why to pass to Bynum when he can't buy a basket and if he is sent to the line is worst than Snaq?

His offensive "patented" moves for which some are considering him better than DH lost the glamour. His timimg and steps are terrible, shots are made from under the rim or blocked.

By concentarting on the defense end, his offense deteriorated. Let's not count lobs and alley ups. That's not offense.

@BULIMIC … Since you think my prediction that Drew will share Finals MVP honors with Kobe is so ridiculous, let me ask you a question: During the Lakers recent 17-1 streak following the all-star break, who was the Lakers most valuable player? I’ll give you a big hint. It wasn’t Kobe Bryant. If the Lakers are to win their third NBA championship, it will be in a large part due to having a healthy and dominant Andrew Bynum. He may not be the team’s best player but he is their difference maker.

phoenix isnt a box seat holder, he is a 42 yr old over weight meth addict. he works at kfc and has a paper route, his name is jacob and dont pay attention to him. he is a habitual liar and a thief. oh yeah he lives with his sister and her husband. hey jacob, now what?

Support your team, don't rip any player apart when we aren't winning. That's the difference between a true laker fan and one jumps the bandwagon.

rossdogg76- Here we have a cheap imitation of snoop dog, broke down ghetto broham that know alot about living with sister, sleeping with his sister. I guess the 76 is your IQ or your weight. Sitting around with your homie drinking his 40, and smoking whale $hit, watching the Laker game, life doesn't get no better for this bozo.



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