Ron Harper says Lakers have to wake up, and shape up


Ron Harper has called out the Lakers all the way from his home in New Jersey.

Harper specifically called out Ron Artest, Lamar Odom and Jordan Farmar, wondering when they are going to “show up” for the Lakers in the Western Conference first-round playoff series against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Harper feels as if he still has ties, and allegiance, to the Lakers, with whom he won his last two NBA titles in 2000 and 2001.

He won those rings with Kobe Bryant, Derek Fisher and Brian Shaw, now an assistant with the Lakers. Harper won five NBA championships total, all for Coach Phil Jackson, including three in Chicago.

Game 5 is Tuesday and Harper has plenty of questions for the Lakers in a best-of-seven series that’s tied at 2-2.

“Who is going to show up for L.A. in Game 5? They need somebody besides Kobe,” he said. “And I ain’t talking about the offensive end. I’m talking about on defense.”

Especially in transition defense, where the speedy Thunder has run the ball down the Lakers’ throats.

The Lakers keep saying they have to get back on defense. They said the same thing after practice Monday.

After the Thunder had 24 fastbreak points in Game 3 and 23 in Game 4, the Lakers know they must get back on defense.

“One problem I’ve got with L.A. is I want to know who is going to put the flame out,” Harper said. “I know Kobe will. He’s going to come out and shoot the ball in Game 5 — and he should.

“Who’s going to be the man to say, ‘I’m guarding him?’ They are all hiding. Who is going to say, ‘I’m putting it all on the line?’

“Will the real Ron Artest start playing? At times, you see the real one. At times you don’t see the real Ron Artest.

“Where’s Lamar Odom been at? Somebody needs to put an ad on a milk carton and ask, ‘Where’s Lamar Odom?’ He ain’t showed up.

“That kid [Russell] Westbrook is having his way with all those [Lakers] guards,” Harper continued. “Farmar is the fastest guard they got, right? Looks to me like Farmar is scared of that kid.”

Artest has played good defense on Kevin Durant, but has been abysmal on offense, making 30% of his shots, 13% of his three-point attempts.

Odom is shooting 40.6% from the field in this series, and averaging just 7.8 points and 6.5 rebounds a game. Farmar is making 35.3% of his shots, 18.2% from three-point range, and his defense has been shaky.

Harper had a warning for the Lakers.

“They have to win Game 5,” Harper said. “They don’t win Game 5, they are going to lose the series. The series is over.”

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