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They try different angles

Times Staff Writer

For fans whose introduction to the triangle offense was seeing the Shaquille O’Neal-Kobe Bryant Lakers run it, this season has been a revelation.

In the O’Neal-Bryant era, the offense tended to be an entry pass, a pass into the post, with everyone making one cut and then some one-on-one action.

“Of course, when you have a player like Shaq and he’s the apex of the offense, he pretty much insisted if he’s going to do the job at the other end of the floor and be a team player, he had to get that ball on that post,” said Tex Winter, the Lakers consultant who invented the offense.

“So that was our basic concept, to get the ball to Shaq. Of course, without Shaq, it becomes more of a team concept. Five players become a little bit more involved because you’re not always throwing it into Shaq.”

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Winter didn’t think the Chicago Bulls ever got his offense right when he was on Phil Jackson’s staff as they were winning six NBA titles in the 1990s.

So if he says this season’s Lakers are doing OK, that’s pretty good.

“I’m a purist, so I always think they could do it better,” Winter said. “I like to see the ball move and shared. At times, quite a bit this year, I’ve seen some improvement.”

Jackson says the Lakers ran the offense well “for a while. Now that Kobe’s really putting on the gas -- he has taken a big leap in his conditioning and I thought [Tuesday] night he was really pushing it” in the Houston game.

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He said the O’Neal-Bryant Lakers were “a team that wanted to do everything straight forward. Shaq wanted the ball straight in to him a lot of times and because of his size, he could post somebody up and hold them off.

“With this team, when we want to get the ball in, we may have to run the ball to one side of the court and swing it back to the other side. It takes some expertise ... and that’s what I’ve been exacting from this team. And they’re doing a better job of it.”

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On one hand, the TV networks pay the NBA hundreds of millions of dollars.

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On the other, the games they telecast tend to run slow while they recoup their costs.

“We call them the Especially Slow Programming Network,” Jackson said before Friday night’s ESPN telecast. “That’s how we define them.

“But they’re not as slow as TNT because they’ve got to pay the commercial fee of Charles Barkley and those guys at halftime for 20 minutes. That’s a real drag to have to pay them.

“Then you have a game in Dallas and it’s at 8:30 at night.... You know you’re in there until at least midnight, right?”

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mark.heisler@latimes.com


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