It was a quiet Saturday around the Lakers, with NBA Players Association head Billy Hunter meeting with his constituents after practice. Lakers coach Phil Jackson thought the No. 1 reason his team lost to Detroit on Friday was a lack of energy. The No. 2 reason was the zone the Pistons played and Jackson offered his opinions about.
“As soon as these guys hear zone, they think, `Oh man, zone. Were going to have to make shots. Were going to have to move the ball and nobodys going to be able to play off the dribble.’ Whereas, reality is, zone is a very weak defense. And they made it work for them last night.
Jackson said the Lakers fell into a trap of thinking they had to make 3-pointers to beat the zone. Instead they had to do a better job of interior passing. They spent part of practice Saturday talking about making the right passes, filling spots and being patient.
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The Lakers’ minor-league affiliate, the D-Fenders, opened training camp Saturday in El Segundo. Jackson said before Friday’s game that he would stop by to show support for the team, which will run the triangle offense and serve as a Lakers’ junior varsity. [ep
Jackson said Lakers owner Jerry Buss was a bigger advocate for the team than he was, saying it made sense “strategically” for an NBA team to have an affiliate. One thing Jackson said he wanted to see change was the ability for teams to have veteran players make what baseball calls “rehab starts” with the minor-leaguers.
“We have players get injured, it would be great to have the ability to play a game, instead of stepping onto an NBA court,” Jackson said. “I think it saves a lot of wear and tear on players and sets up a situation where a player can get comfortable on the court.
The only problem is that such a change probably would have to be written into the league’s collective bargaining agreement, which doesn’t expire until after the 2010-11 season.
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Here’s the notes from Saturday. Even though Smush Parker has started this season in a slump, Jackson said he was not ready to start rookie guard Jordan Farmar in his place.
By Ross Siler
EL SEGUNDO–As he talked with his cousin after Friday nights game, Lakers guard Smush Parker realized something was missing.
“I dont have my mojo right now, Parker said. “He said the same thing during the game. My offense is off. My defense is off. Ive just got to get my mojo back.
The contrast between the start of this season and last season has been striking for Parker, who scored 20 points or more in three of the Lakers first four games last season. He is averaging 8.1 points so far this season and shooting 36.4 percent.
Parker had all the incentive to have a good game Friday against Detroit, the team that released him in January 2005. Instead, Parker finished with five points on 2 of 7 shooting and had three turnovers.
In the first quarter, Parker made just one of four 3-pointers and threw a pass so wildly on the fast break that Lakers coach Phil Jackson fell out of his seat yelling for Jordan Farmar to replace him.
When he did see an opportunity to attack the lane, Parker got caught between hands going up for a layup. He tried to use his right hand from the left side of the basket and missed. That was one example he cited Saturday in saying, “Everything is off.
Jackson was asked how Parker could get back on track. It was something Parker never was able to do in the Lakers first-round playoff series against Phoenix last season.
“I have no idea, Jackson said. “One of my coaches was saying, last year at this time Smush had like 10 dunks and eight steals and no turnovers in the first so many games. He (got) going really quick. This year, people are ready or whatever it is. Hes just not in the rhythm of the game right now.
Parker said one reason he is struggling is because he did not play in an NBA summer league for the first time in his career. It was not necessary for him to do so after starting all 82 games for the Lakers last season.
“This summer, I didnt play any ball, Parker said. “I couldnt find anywhere to play. I was here half the summer by myself working out, just doing individual work, so I didnt get the chance to run any.
Jackson noted that Parker was able to succeed last season because his offense fed off his defense. He ranked 12th in the league in steals, averaging 1.71 a game, but has only six steals in seven games this season.
Although he sat Parker the final 15 minutes of Fridays game in favor of Farmar, Jackson said he was not inclined to make a change in the starting lineup.
“We just have to stay solid here for a little bit and see how it plays out, Jackson said. “Its too early to pull the plug on anything.
Strong enough: Kobe Bryant estimated Saturday that he is playing at a 70 percent level on his surgically repaired right knee. Yet Bryant guessed that after taking four days next week to strengthen the knee, he could be at about 95 percent.
“Four days makes a big difference, Bryant said. “Ive had huge leaps in two days.
Bryant said he would know his knee was all the back when he was able to turn and go after coming down with a rebound.
Also: Center Kwame Brown went through practice Saturday with his injured right shoulder and will be a game-time decision tonight. Brown still plans to see a doctor about the shoulder Monday.