Interesting exchange between reporters and Derek Fisher after Sunday's 109-96 loss to the Celtics Sunday afternoon. He was asked about seven different ways what amounts to the same question. Finally, he asked for some clarification:
Reporter 1: Are you concerned?
Fisher: Somebody define for me what "concerned" is.
Reporter 1: Are you more concerned than in prior seasons?
Reporter 2: Do you see a reason to be concerned?
Fisher: We're concerned every day. That's why we go to practice, that's why we play the games, that's why we put the time in we put in. Unless you win every single game, you're concerned. Every day, you want to get better defensively. Every day, you want to get better offensively. Every day, you want to play harder. Every day, you want to correct the mistakes you made the night before. So I don't know what is supposed to dramatically change, other than incrementally doing your job on a day-to-day basis, and turning things around over time. There really isn't a magic pill or a snap of the finger that's going to change things. But I've just played too many seasons and I've been on too many successful teams to get bunkered down on ups and downs over the course of the season that happen to everybody. That's just part of it.
Reporter 4: Are you guys hard to gauge right now?
Fisher: You guys do that. You get paid to gauge us. That's not a question for me to answer, that's what you get paid to to, is to gauge us and judge us and decide how good we are or are not. My job is to come to work every day and keep doing the best that I can, and every guy in the locker room, that's the responsibility on their hands. Hopefully, that allows us to be the best we can be. If I say yes, I'm concerned, or if I said hey, we're not playing as well as we'd like to play right now and that's where the gauge is, what does that really tell us?
Nobody, from Fisher on down, is pleased with the way the Lakers are performing. Even Lamar Odom, who continues preaching calm and confidence, also acknowledges what they're doing now won't cut it. This isn't a point of debate.
"We keep saying it's a work in progress," Luke Walton says, "but it is frustrating having the results against [those elite] teams. We need more execution. More of the little things. More focus on what we talk about, what we do in practice, and carry it into games."
How to fix their problems, how good they can get, how good they will get- these are all vital questions without concrete answers. Maybe at this point, it's still easier to focus on things more tangible. "We have to understand that the regular season isn't crucial [as the playoffs are], but it is important," Pau Gasol said Sunday. "The better record we finish with, we also have better chances down the road. We can't slip too much ... or the games that we have given away, we might have to think about those."
Take a look at the standings: L.A. is now needs help from both San Antonio and likely Boston as well to rise to the top of the conference or league. They're now in a dogfight with Miami and Chicago for the overall seeds three-to-five and are a game back in the loss column, and are only a game up on Dallas for the second seed out West. All with a very tough schedule upcoming, and a thin track record of success against the league's elite. Particularly on the road. Hopefully a constant dose of challenges does them good.
It certainly could.
If it doesn't, the Lakers will face the sort of obstacle come playoff time they haven't seen in any of the three runs to the Finals: Significant time against quality opponents without home court advantage. Meaning they can't just be as good as they were last year, or in '09, but will have to be better.
This is what faces them going forward.
(Climbing back off my soapbox... please hold.)
OK, I promised postgame video, and that I shall deliver... Phil Jackson, Kobe Bryant, Gasol, Odom, Fisher, and Andrew Bynum, both on the issue of "concern," and the specifics of the game. Why did Rajon Rondo go off the way he did in the second half? What happened to the defense? What of Ron Artest?
Fisher on concern vs. panic:
Fish, on the loss and whether he sees it as a measuring stick:
Jackson, on Rondo's big second half, and the disappointing performance of Artest:
Kobe, on losing to the C's:
Bynum, on breakdowns vs. Boston:
Odom, first on the loss Sunday and the importance of calm, then on offensive and defensive breakdowns:
Bynum, on the need to start beating the best competition:
Gasol, on the need to improve, disappointing results: