There’s wasn’t much to say after Tuesday’s loss and there’s not much to report after Wednesday’s practice-that-wasn’t. Phil Jackson brought the team together in El Segundo and sent them home after a half-hour. What he told his players probably wasn’t too different from what he told the few assembled reporters.
“By the nature of the game that they played last night, I was disappointed in their play,” Jackson said, “and they should take themselves away from the game for a day and come back tomorrow ready to play.”
In case you were interested, here’s the list of 15 finalists for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame’s Class of 2007, which will be announced Monday. Given that Jackson’s picture is on the front of the Hall’s Web site right now, it seems safe to say that he’ll be getting in.
NORTH AMERICA COMMITTEE
Players: Adrian Dantley, Chris Mullin
Coach Bob Hurley (St. Anthony’s, N.J.), Phil Jackson, Eddie Sutton, Roy Williams
Contributor: Bill Davidson (Pistons owner), Dick Vitale,
Referee: Mendy Rudolph
Team: 1966 Texas Western
Coach: Van Chancellor (Ole Miss, Houston Comets), Harley Redin (Wayland Baptist University, six AAU national titles)
Coach: Pedro Ferrandiz (Real Madrid), Mirko Novosel (Yugoslavian national team)
Player: Richard Guerin (six-time All-Star)
A finalist needs 18 of 24 votes from the honors committee to be selected. There were six people in the Class of 2006, headlined by Charles Barkley and Dominique Wilkins. The enshrinement takes place Sept. 6-8 in Springfield, Mass., and we’re just hoping that Jackson will speak either before or after Dick Vitale.
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By Ross Siler
EL SEGUNDO–Lakers coach Phil Jackson had sat through too many losses this season to teams with records that look like target demographics (18-54) to let what happened Tuesday against the Memphis Grizzlies pass without comment.
So Jackson brought his players together the morning after the end to their five-game winning streak. Instead of holding practice, Jackson said a few words and sent them home with orders to clear their minds and return Thursday ready to work.
After sweeping aside so many similar losses, Jackson could not do the same with the playoffs only three weeks away. Not after the Lakers built a 15-point lead in the second quarter against the short-handed Grizzlies and then called it a night.
“I let them know it wasnt OK with me today, Jackson said. “Thats not the way we act or the responsibility of being a Laker or being a team thats headed for the playoffs. Thats what the other teams that are out of the playoffs are doing.
“This is a playoff drive were in right now and we have to step up our competitive level every night if were going to meet the demands that are needed in a playoff.
“My problem with them is that when we get a few wins in the course of this year, weve become lackadaisical and havent kept the same intensity drive as we go into a game and well lose games, particularly to teams that have been under .500.
“We just cant take a night off as a basketball team and expect to win any games at this point.
If injuries have been the primary storyline to the Lakers season, then inexplicable losses might be secondary. The Lakers have dropped two games apiece to New York, Milwaukee, Charlotte, New Orleans, Portland and Memphis.
Jackson said he was disappointed with Tuesdays game on two counts. The first was that the Lakers failed to build on the 15-point lead and let the Grizzlies, who own the NBAs worst record, gain confidence the longer they stayed in the game.
The Lakers did the same thing against Golden State on Sunday, giving back what had been a 19-point lead before rallying in the fourth quarter. It was enough of a pattern that Jackson mentioned “sustaining the effort multiple times Wednesday.
In addition, the Lakers were unable to pick up for Kobe Bryant, who made just 7 of 26 shots in finishing with 23 points. One problem is that Lamar Odom has been unable to trust his shot since returning from a shoulder injury.
“Hes playing great basketball, Jackson said of Odom, who is 0 for 15 from 3-point range in seven games back, “but somebody else has to step in there and play a little bit of the second fiddle on the scoring aspect.
Brown update: Although Kwame Brown was a late scratch from Tuesdays game, Jackson said he believed his injured center would be able to play Friday, when his size will be needed against Houstons Yao Ming.
“He came and talked to me today and said he feels like hell be able to play, Jackson said. “Hes been a big help for us in this situation where were going down the stretch and we need a guy with his activity level and his physical bearing.
Brown tried re-taping his injured left ankle three times before the game, Jackson said, before deciding seven minutes before tipoff that he couldnt play.
Fame game: For all they have been through, Kobe Bryant laughed in calling it a “no brainer that Jackson would be selected to the Basketball Hall of Fame. The Halls Class of 2007 will be announced Monday and Jackson is one of 15 finalists.
“Hes at his best in building chemistry for a team, Bryant said, “and building a cohesive unit. Hes the best Ive ever seen.
Bryant added that it was “ludicrous for Jackson to face questions about the championship-ready teams he inherited with both the Chicago Bulls and Lakers.
“Name me a coach thats won a championship with bad players, Bryant said. “What are you supposed to do? Are you supposed to take a team that was 30 games below .500 and turn them into a championship team without making any adjustments whatsoever?