In my trade, we're taught to avoid yes/no questions, as well as "leading" inquiries, because both tend to limit the quality of an answer and the number of directions a questionee can go with his response. Best to leave people with as much room to roam as possible, and narrow things down from there, if need be. There are exceptions, obviously, but generally speaking its a good rule to live by.
Sometimes, though, it leads you squarely into Captain Obvious territory. Such was the case Monday, after Phil Jackson had earlier referenced bad habits developed by the team over the course of the losing streak, stuff they don't want repeated. "Guys are making one effort, but not the second effort so our rotations are misaligned and misspent, and our energy was misspent last night in critical times. And then the little stuff that we have, mentally," he said. "I think we fouled jump shooters, three point shooters, and also gave up an inordinate type of things we don't have to do, to set ourselves on edge."
I asked when said bad habits emerged.
"Last Sunday. We had a bad week," Jackson said with a smile. "We had a really bad week. Sunday to Sunday was kind of bad."
Very funny, Phil. Those five straight losses I read about. "I was just wondering if you saw anything creeping up while you guys were still winning."
Ah. Why didn't you just ask, dummy? "We thought the Utah game, after the Dallas game, that back to back, it was a game in which we didn't play very well for large periods of the game, and then had to really come out and bust it up in the third quarter to get back in the ballgame. That was kind of an indication," he replied.
When it comes to turning things around, Jackson again emphasized the need to think incrementally. "I told these guys we played better for 42, 44 minutes last night. That's a good sign. We have signs the ailing patient is starting to recover." Not great, mind you, but better. Unfortunately, from a quality control standpoint Lakers have some space to make up relative to their output during the big 17-of-18 streak coming out of the break.
Whether it happens Tuesday against a San Antonio team Jackson isn't sure will go full tilt, given their lofty status in the standings and the age of key players, remains to be seen.
Click below for more from Jackson, plus video of Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol.
Jackson, on the slide, plus thoughts on the Spurs. Interesting to hear him drop the little nugget, "They're a deeper team than we do" into his response. Certainly could be a message for the bench, which hasn't exactly distinguished itself of late.
Bynum- still more than a little chapped- on today's practice, plus his desire to get a little more full court work in (the Lakers didn't stage a full speed scrimmage Monday). Jackson said he'd happily oblige, if he had the manpower. Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher, he said, don't need to be running around given their age/physical condition. Gasol, who told me Sunday the bone bruise on his right knee is still bugging him, needs as much rest as possible, and Matt Barnes didn't practice today, thanks to his bum knee. Add to that a fever- the real kind, not the cowbell type- for Steve Blake, and it's a bit surprising they didn't pull one of us out of the media room just to stand on the court as a warm body.
Such is life at this time of year.
Gasol, on the slide: