The Lakers arrived in New Orleans fresh off an embarrassing double-digit loss to San Antonio with many concepts to sharpen, not a lot of time to go over them and too much fatigue to execute them.
The Lakers usually avoid a morning shootaround before the second game being played on successive nights for several reasons. They can sustain that energy for the game instead. They can better handle unpredictable travel schedules. And they can avoid the information-overload process that comes with so many sessions compressed between short turnarounds.
Still, the Lakers had just experienced their second three-game losing streak of the season, a stretch in which they averaged just 80.33 points and lost by an average margin of 16.67 points.
There were simply too many issues the Lakers couldn't ignore, so Coach Phil Jackson arranged a team meeting upon arrival in New Orleans that center Andrew Bynum said was long. The intention didn't entail giving a dramatic speech and chewing out players so much as it was to discuss details that had plagued the team during its losing streak. It turned out to be a significant turning point in what led to the Lakers' 103-88 victory Wednesday over the New Orleans Hornets. The dialogue could also help the Lakers (22-10) to stay sharp when they host the Philadelphia 76ers (13-19) Friday at Staples Center.
"It was important because there were a couple of things that weren't happening for us," forward Pau Gasol said after Thursday's practice in El Segundo. "When you lose three games the way we lost them, it's not a fluke. It's not just an accident one night. It's not just a bad game. It's something that is continuously happening. We had to cut it out to understand how can we change this from happening again. That's why we went back to the principles of our defense and of our offense so we can focus on that instead of trying to do too much on our own, which wasn't taking us anywhere."