All kidding aside, Phil Jackson’s concern about Lakers’ slump is very real
At first, Lakers Coach Phil Jackson was playful, preening in front of a video camera after practice Saturday, even being facetious when asked how concerned he has become during his team’s swoon, saying, “Oh yeah, we’re very concerned. We really are.”
Jackson looked at the media and smiled.
Then he turned serious. Well, as serious as Jackson can get.
Truth be told, Jackson is bothered by the Lakers’ four-game losing streak, coming on the heels of going 17-1 after the All-Star break. He’s bothered by the up-and-down play.
“Yeah, I’m concerned, very much so,” Jackson said. “You can’t turn the switch on and off like that in basketball without having to face some kind of price.
“Your game doesn’t just come back all of a sudden. If you had injuries and people out and there were some sustaining facts behind it . . . but there really aren’t.”
Jackson said he’s not befuddled by his team’s plight because he knows what’s wrong.
“Too many turnovers,” he began.
Before he continued his list, Jackson was told that the Lakers have turned the ball over 73 times during the losing streak, an average of 18.3 per game.
He went on to say the Lakers have allowed too many offensive rebounds and have been poor in transition defense.
“The same old stuff in greater magnitude,” Jackson said.
The slide started against the Denver Nuggets last Sunday.
“You know what happened? We lost to Denver and realized — guys must have thought it because I didn’t — that San Antonio is out of reach and they stopped playing hard,” Jackson said. "[It’s] just a mental thing. It just takes a very small amount like that to change the outcome of games because you get surprised and all of a sudden you’re in jeopardy. You’re in trouble.”
Don’t try to sell Jackson on the idea that this late-season collapse is similar to last season, when the Lakers lost seven of their last 11 games after a seven-game winning streak.
A big difference is that Kobe Bryant missed four of the last five regular-season games a year ago because of an assortment of injuries and Andrew Bynum missed the last 13 games due to a strained left Achilles’ tendon.
That didn’t stop the Lakers from winning a second straight NBA championship.
This time, the Lakers are healthy.
“I think you have to work harder,” Jackson said. “It’s just a matter of playing hard and doing the right thing and they will be all right. But you can’t commit if you’re not putting your whole self in to it. You can’t put half of yourself in to it. This game is too demanding.”
It didn’t take long for Kendrick Perkins to offer some disparaging remarks about Jackson, Bryant and Pau Gasol after the center was acquired by the Oklahoma City Thunder from the Boston Celtics at the trade deadline.
“I don’t like Pau Gasol or Phil Jackson,” Perkins said in a recent magazine interview. “Phil is arrogant. Pau is soft. Kobe Bryant tries to bring out his toughness, but he’s still soft.”
Gasol and the Lakers will see Perkins and the Thunder on Sunday night at Staples Center.
“Certain players talk too much, from my perspective,” Gasol said. “They should worry about their own stuff. But you can’t control what other players do or what people do. . . . They’ve gotten better. We want to beat them. If we can beat them up, even better.”
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