Lakers hold brief players-only meeting, try to look ahead
The last few days bordered on wild, so the Lakers wanted to clear up a few things with each other.
Pau Gasol had been twisting in the trade winds, Kobe Bryant had called out the front office, and Andrew Bynum had complained publicly about too much time devoted to shoot-arounds.
So the Lakers held a brief, informal team meeting after beating the Portland Trail Blazers, 103-92, Monday at Staples Center.
They hammered home the importance of togetherness, like they did most of the game against the Trail Blazers.
Don’t worry about the front office. Don’t worry about practices being too long. Just worry about games. And winning them.
The meeting came before a short but important road trip leading up to All-Star weekend. The Lakers are at Dallas on Wednesday and at Oklahoma City on Thursday.
They are 5-11 on the road. It couldn’t hurt to try to crystallize their thoughts.
The get-together wasn’t long at all, but one person familiar with it said it would “hopefully help everyone stick together.”
The Lakers also held a brief team meeting on their recent six-game road trip. It was believed to be in the aftermath of their crushing loss in New York City, a game in which Bryant was so irritated he kicked a trash can in the locker room afterward.
The Lakers recovered in time to beat Toronto in their next game and finish 3-3 on the trip.
It was somewhat of a surprise that Monday's talk came after a relatively easy victory, though Derek Fisher and, according to ESPN.com, Bryant took turns imploring their teammates to look ahead and forget all that had happened.
After all, it had been a long holiday weekend for the Lakers.
General Manager Mitch Kupchak and Coach Mike Brown had been playing defense Monday, responding to different forms of criticism.
Kupchak said in a statement the Lakers would continue to seek trades with other teams because it would hurt their competitive balance not to do so. Brown acknowledged having long on-court sessions earlier this season because there was so little practice time in the compressed schedule of a lockout-shortened season.
Some of the shoot-arounds were “more than two hours at times,” Brown said. “But [Sunday] … we went and walked through their plays … and about four or five of our plays, got some shots up and then basically left.”
It was the second time within a week that Brown had to stick up for himself.
Metta World Peace complained about his uneven playing time, even referring to Brown as being “all stats.”
Brown handled it well, reminding World Peace that the veteran forward hadn’t been playing well this season.
“I said … ‘If I was a stats guy, Metta, you wouldn’t be playing at all. Look at your stats offensively. And then Synergy [Sports Technology] says you’re the 192nd-best defensive player in the league,’ ” Brown said last week. “If I was a stats guy, the guy that should be playing at the small-forward spot is Devin Ebanks because he's shooting better than you and Matt [Barnes].”
Ebanks has since been sent down to the Lakers’ Development League affiliate, the D-Fenders.
World Peace continues to struggle on offense but has improved his defense, holding Portland forward Gerald Wallace to seven points on two-for-seven shooting.