Derek Fisher: Lakers needed a break from the negative

Thursday afternoon in El Segundo, Derek Fisher was asked what accounts for the team's strong second halves since the break, particularly against Oklahoma City and Minnesota:

"[We] understand it’s a 48 minute game. I think we’ve done a good job of trying to win the game in the first quarter. I think there were times earlier in the season where we got impatient if we weren’t in control of the game right away. I think we’re doing a better job of understanding the mentality it takes to win tough games, close games, and not get over concerned what the margin of victory is. Just win the game. I think that’s allowed us to be really solid coming out of the locker room at halftime. We’ll talk about some things, make some adjustments, and come out with a solid game plan."

While it's perfectly reasonable to question the consistency of the team's mental investment over the course of the season, it's a mistake to assume every disappointing result for the Lakers was the result of mailing in the game. It's possible to care and still play poorly. As fans and media, we've expressed constant frustration throughout the season when the Lakers don't meet our collective vision of how the Lakers should play, but they have similar, arguably higher, expectations for themselves. Throughout the year I've felt those moments where the Lakers tried to crank it up but didn't earn the payoff, looking in the mirror and failing to produce the expected reflection, caused their play to deteriorate even more.

I asked if this is the impatience and frustration he alludes to.

"That’s a part of it. I think we’ve been able to continue to expect a lot of ourselves but also have the proper perspective really on what we have done. I think we focused a lot on the things we haven’t been doing over the course of this season, and think the break allowed us- everybody- to take a snapshot of the reality of what we’ve accomplished over the last few years. [Understand] we’re not as bad as some may say. Just that quick recognition of the realities of what kind of team we are, the team we’ll be moving forward, has been a really good thing for us."

It's one thing for those on the outside to harp on the negative, but to hear Fisher say some of the same negativity had been internalized by the team is interesting. If in fact they've found a more constructive way to handle stretches of poor play- they can never be fully eliminated- it only enhances L.A.'s chances for a strong stretch run.