Around the World (Wide Web): The State Of The Lakers

Phillip Barnett —  March 12, 2010

Mar. 02, 2010 - Los Angeles, United States - epa02062966 Los Angeles Lakers Derek Fisher reacts against the Indiana Pacers during fourth period action of their NBA basketball match in Los Angeles, California, USA 02 March 2010. The Lakers beat the Pacers 122-99.

The Lakers recent three-game losing streak and subsequent last second win against the Raptors has garnered a lot of talk about the “state of the Lakers.” It’s not a secret, the Lakers have struggled of late. They aren’t the dominant road team of a year ago, they aren’t as hungry as a year ago, and teams don’t lack the confidence in playing the Lakers like they did a year ago. However, as we saw yesterday, all of this talk is starting to wake the Lakers up. One of them, Derek Fisher. Mike Trudell of had a one-on-one interview with Fish about their confidence, how teams are coming at them with their best shots and the rigors of a 82-game season. Here’s a clip from the interview:

MT: The three-game losing streak was, of course, not exactly what you had in mind. But it doesn’t seem to have affected the team’s confidence in the larger picture.

Fisher: No, (that’s right), but right now I don’t think it’s about confidence. It’s about doing things out on the floor. In some respects, because we still carry so much confidence, we’re still maybe not pressing (the pedal) to the mat in terms of the sense of urgency that we’ve shown in some games. We haven’t been able to stretch that out over two, three weeks, and that’s tough to do in the NBA season. That’s tough to do after experiencing what we have. We lost in the Finals in 2008, won in 2009 and we’re on a quest to win another title. That’s a lot of basketball, it’s a long three-year process, so you’re going to have some ups and downs. But if we can stay healthy and continue to get healthier, we feel OK in terms of where we’ll to be. We still want to have home court advantage in the West, and having (it) overall would be the best of both worlds.

Land O’ Lakers also have comments from Phil Jackson and Kobe on some of the same issues. Here are a few of the quotes from the interviews:

Phil Jackson on the team’s urgency:

I think that’s impossible to replicate at this time. There’s something that’s a driving force last kept us on that goal oriented, I would say. We don’t have that. Not that we can’t reclaim it at some point and that’s what we’re trying to do.”

Kobe Bryant on the team’s focus:

“I think what we have to do right now is just focus on execution. A lot of times what happens is you get so wrapped up in the length of the season and wanting to win a championship again that you overlook the small things. And I think that’s when the malaise sets in because you look at the length of the season and that takes its toll on you mentally, as opposed to just thinking about the next day and playing as hard as you can for that day. That’s the mentality that we have to have.”

On another post, Land O’ Lakers has post practice interviews from Kobe and PJ (the other videos were from after Tuesday night’s win). PJ answered questions about the Phoenix Suns and the Lakers P&R defense and Kobe commented, and agreed with, Lamar Odom’s soft aura statements:

Asked today about Odom’s comments, Kobe agreed. “I think teams are getting confidence seeing us struggling and obviously are getting more confidence in terms of how to be able to beat us, and things like that,” he said. “But it is what it is. It doesn’t matter.”

Not yet, at least. “When the playoffs come around and you’re playing well, you take that confidence from your opponent as the series goes on. So, that’s the most important thing, when the playoffs come around, we’re rolling.”

Bryant, unlike a portion of his team’s fan base, was far from panic mode– “You guys can worry all you want to. I really could care less,” he told the media with a smile– but when asked if the team was tightening up, he admitted it was a possibility: “It could be. I don’t know. This is the first time that most of the guys on this team have had to defend a championship, so, it might be.”

The Los Angeles Times Lakers Blog has a post about the Lakers rise in energy during yesterday’s practice. Basket Blog has a preview on tonight’s game against the Suns, which chronicles the three previous meetings against Phoenix. On the Dan Patrick show, Charles Barkley said that Kobe Bryant is not in the same league as Jordan when talking about the greatest player of all time, saying that some of his game winners were “lucky.”

Finally, we’re beginning and end ing with Derek Fisher. Silver Screen And Roll has a long, drawn out post trying to figure out whether Derek Fisher hurts the Lakers more on offense than on defense. I though the article was unfair, but you be the judge of that. The title is “Everything You Know About Derek Fisher Is Wrong,” but the article starts out like this.

Um, OK, so full disclosure: The title of this piece is a bit of hyperbole.  A more correct title would be “There’s a slight possibility that the order of importance you have assigned to the reasons why Derek Fisher shouldn’t be the starting point guard of a championship contender is a tad bit inaccurate”, but I think SB Nation has a word count limit on titles. Forgive my exaggeration, but hey, the flashy headline puts butts in the seats.

Everything you know about Derek Fisher is true.  You know he’s an extremely poor defender, on account of his being ancient in NBA terms.  You know he hasn’t shown the ability to shoot the ball well this year.  You know he’s considered a very good leader, and that the only viable explanation for his continuing to play a large role in the Lakers rotation is due to the experience and intangibles he brings to the team.  But it’s an accepted truth that Fisher’s biggest liability is on the defensive end, and I’m not so sure that’s true.  So, to aide me in re-aligning your perceptions, I’ve invited my good friends, advanced statistics, to help convince you that up is down, black is white, and Derek Fisher hurts the Lakers more on offense than on defense.


Phillip Barnett