The Lakers, eager to absorb a Sunday of football, scattered pretty quickly after this morning's practice in El Segundo, but there were a few notable nuggets:
-- Theo Ratliff, who hasn't played since Nov. 9 and underwent surgery on his left knee on Nov. 17, returned to the practice floor, participating in the day's drills and scrimmage work. Phil Jackson was pleased with his performance, but needs to see how he responds tomorrow before making projections about his return to the lineup. Once he's back, Ratliff only plays if things go wrong for the Lakers (foul trouble, injuries), but P.J. sees value in his presence. “There are a couple of things that help us out. Obviously both of our centers can get into foul trouble, and [Ratliff] can play. He’s probably not going to be in the rotation, but he’s going to be necessary," he said. "He gives us an opportunity to send Derrick Caracter down to the D-League and get some playing experience, which is important. His practice, what he brings to practice, is kind of important to us, too. A lot of times people don’t understand that. His experience, his ability to contest, it can change things up so we have to work a little harder [in practice]."
-- Jackson smiled wide when asked about Jerry West's comments to the Orange County Automobile Dealers Association, in which he appeared to say the Lakers were, more-or-less, too old to play defense effectively. "He's right," Jackson said.
He was kidding, of course, but Jackson did elaborate. "We have to do a lot of things right to be able to play defense the way we want to, and most of it is about controlling the tempo of a game," he said. "There’s something about just speed. Outright speed. We’re not the fastest team on the boards here in the NBA, but we can do it if we control things in the right way.”
-- We broke down the team's problems in transition this morning in our chalk talk with 710 ESPN's Dave Miller. Jackson also elaborated on how the Lakers try to set up their transition D: “We have a pattern that we set up, so that we have guys on the boards [and able to get back]. The right sequence is that you always have guys coming back on defense, you always have guys attacking the boards, and the shooter has the option to follow his own shot because he knows where it’s going. So it’s usually two on two. Two guys, and half a man if it’s the shooter’s choice to go after it. Two guys going after [the ball] and two guys back on defense, and then you have to work at getting back and walling in teams. That’s the toughest time to play defense in the NBA. And you can’t do it off turnovers, and you can’t do it a lot of times off bad shots. So it’s got to be good shots, and it’s got to be the right time [to shoot]."
You can now return to your regularly scheduled football watching.