Play against Hornets was a team no-effort
Twelve hours after saying his team “fussed around” in a confounding loss to New Orleans, Lakers Coach Phil Jackson was still in a fussy mood.
There was a lot to sift through after Wednesday’s 105-89 home loss to the Hornets, with Jackson targeting the Lakers’ centers and point guards.
“I felt our big guys defensively were horrendous,” he said Thursday morning. “They were inconsistent. Our guards couldn’t control [Chris] Paul, who’s a tough customer [and]... make him take outside shots.”
First, the post players.
Kwame Brown had nine points, Andrew Bynum was scoreless, and the Lakers were drubbed on the boards, 49-31, including a staggering 20-5 in offensive rebounds. Jackson was particularly irritated that Paul (26 points, 11 assists) and Jannero Pargo (21 points) drove at will without bumping into a bigger body once they slipped past the guards. “There’s a certain level in which you say, ‘You don’t come any farther than this,’ and you put up a road block,” he said. “They come into your chest [and] it’s either a charging foul or a blocking foul, one or the other, so you have to make a statement. We just didn’t play with that kind of determination.”
Jackson said he might start Ronny Turiaf at center tonight against Atlanta.
Jackson also lit into the Lakers’ guards. The Hornets were without three significant players -- Peja Stojakovic, David West and Bobby Jackson -- but were able to end a five-game losing streak because of their penetration.
“The two spots that you have to have energy at as a basketball team, one is a point guard ... that really organizes and fires the team up and holds people responsible,” Jackson said. “And the other’s kind of an enforcer position, a power player that does that, and we don’t have either as a basketball team. That’s where our weakness is right now. We’re looking for guys that step into that role.”
Neither Smush Parker nor Sasha Vujacic had much success stopping the Hornets’ guards, and Jordan Farmar is still learning, Jackson said.
“He makes rookie mistakes,” Jackson said. "[Farmar] has some games in which he plays really well. [Wednesday] night, I know he couldn’t hit a jump shot. I know it’s disappointing to him ... “What we’re looking for from his spot is to organize our team and to develop a certain sense of accountability out there, as to how to hold the players into a format and keep them going. ... He’s doing a pretty good job. I would say it’s a ‘B,’ but a lot of room for improvement.”
The Lakers have two games left on the home-friendly part of their schedule before hitting the road for eight of the next 10, including back-to-backs next week in Houston and Dallas.
“At the level we’re playing right now, we’ll be hard-pressed to stay above .500. We started out well. It’s been home-court cooking. We haven’t progressed as a team the last week,” Jackson said.
Lamar Odom didn’t escape Jackson’s watchful eye after a seven-turnover game, including one in which he inexplicably started dribbling the ball up court instead of throwing the ball inbounds after the Hornets made a free throw.
“Lamar was completely out of focus [Wednesday] night,” Jackson said. “He wasn’t attentive at all.”
The Lakers were awarded a $2.1-million injured player exception for center Chris Mihm, who underwent ankle surgery Nov. 14 and is not expected to return this season.
The Lakers could use the money to add a player, although a team official said it would be doubtful, citing few free agents and an overcrowded roster with three players (Brian Cook, Aaron McKie, and Shammond Williams) currently not getting minutes. The team has until Dec. 29 to use the exception.
Kobe Bryant did not practice Thursday, but will probably play tonight against Atlanta. He had 24 points on 10-for-17 shooting Wednesday on a sprained right ankle. “It’s pretty sore right now,” Bryant said. “It’s a little more swollen than it was before the game.”
vs. Atlanta, 7:30, FSN West
Site -- Staples Center.
Radio -- 570; 1330.
Records -- Lakers 12-6; Hawks 8-9.
Record vs. Hawks (2005-06) -- 1-1.
Update -- The Hawks have been better than expected, rallying from a 15-point fourth-quarter deficit to win at Denver, 98-96, Wednesday.