Fresh off a five-game road trip in which they lost three times by an average of nearly 14 points a game, Lakers guard Derek Fisher acknowledged the team's mounting frustration Thursday after practice in El Segundo.
"Of course. Guys are genuinely concerned, frustrated and want to turn it around," he said. "But we're in the NBA. Other teams aren't going to just let you do what you want to do when you want to do it. We have to gain that ability back to enforce our will upon other teams. That's something we haven't been able to do of late."
The Lakers, who won 23 of their first 27 games to start the season and entered the All-Star break with a 41-13 record, are 13-8 since. After winning six straight before the trip, there was hope the team had turned a corner leaving Fisher genuinely surprised.
"By any stretch of the imagination we didn't go into it thinking we were going to lose three games," he said.
However, Fisher dismissed concerns the Lakers were coasting, simply waiting for the playoffs to "flip the switch" and regain championship form.
"We genuinely believe that we're not sitting around waiting to just play better when the playoffs start," he said. "We actually want to play better, but it is a process, and there are times when we've taken a step forward and then got knocked back."
Pau Gasol echoed Fisher's comments, saying the Lakers can't expect to turn things around "in one game, in one play. It's got to be a conscious effort and a lot of work put in every single game."
One step, he said, is to raise the importance of the remaining schedule, starting with Friday's game against the Jazz. "I think we have to face these seven games, most of them at least, as if they are playoff games," he said. "You have to take it as a playoff game, personal, and as hard. Hopefully we'll have that mindset, and it will show."
In the meantime, Fisher emphasized the importance of keeping a level head.
"There's overall frustration that we're not playing the way we'd like to play," he said, "but we're not going to allow it to bubble over and become something that derails us from where we want to go. We know we're aren't doing the things we like to do right now, but we have the opportunity and still want to take the advantage of the opportunity to find a way to play our best basketball at the right time."
Brian Kamenetzky is author of the Land O' Lakers blog on ESPNLosAngeles.com