Not much good news out of El Segundo today. Ronny Turiaf, who suffered a slight concussion Sunday night courtesy of Dwight Howard’s elbow, did not practice today and did not travel with the team to Minnesota. If Turiaf shows improvement tomorrow, he might join the team in Denver on Wednesday.
Chris Mihm also missed practice with what Phil Jackson called inflammation in his foot. Mihm’s status for tomorrow’s game remains uncertain. Kwame Brown is certain to miss both games on the trip.
As for the team in general, lots of talk today about mindset, and it’s not good. Jackson didn’t like the practice today and both he and Derek Fisher took some time to discussion the issues, both offensively and defensively, that are hampering the Lakers these days.
Here’s some quotes from today’s practice…
(On Chris Mihm’s status…)
Chris didn’t practice today. He’s been having some problems with his foot, with the inflammation around his foot. So we’re just kind of holding back with both of those guys right now. We had 10 guys out there today.
(On what’s wrong with this team right now…)
If I could put my finger on it, I would say that they don’t feel like they’re together. They’re not pulling together the same way. I think sometimes that’s a problem. We’ve had a couple games where Kobe has had a magnificent first half, with 22 points, and then he’s had six-point second halves. That’s a problem, because the reliance on him offensively has grown. Then in the second half there’s nothing there, and the other team cocks their defense into just stopping him. We have to make some adjustments as a coaching staff to accommodate that. More than anything else, it’s just about the energy we have as a team and just playing with the kind of energy and hustle it takes to play this game.
(On how to correct those problems…)
That’s when guys have to be enthusiastic about playing the game. We’ve got three or four guys who are coughing and hacking and just on the edge of walking sick. That really takes the energy out. We talked about that a week ago, as a team. … Those things happen, and they come and go as a basketball team. They’ve got to understand the rest and recuperation that this game requires.
(On whether going on the road right now could be a positive…)
I’m not optimistic right now. I didn’t like the practice today. I didn’t think we practiced well today. We only had 10 guys and we were coming off a bad game. We tried to get some things accomplished, to grow as a basketball club, but I chided them about their energy this morning.
(On the team’s mindset right now…)
At this point, we’re 17 games into an 82-game season. We have to be careful (not) to become angry and become desperate. I think it’s a time where we become more conscious of the things that we’re doing out there individually, taking a few less chances individually and really coming together as a team. These are the times that teams are made of. It’s easy to smile in front of the cameras and say all the fun stuff when everybody is winning and playing well. But when things start to break down and you lose a few games and everybody starts to doubt themselves, and the confidence in the team starts to be shaken, that’s when you come together more. That’s the position that we’re in right now.
(On the Lakers’ defensive problems…)
There are a lot of situations where we’re not covering for each other out there on the floor. We’re allowing guys to get beat defensively and we’re not going over there and helping them as a team. That’s just an unwritten rule. You don’t leave your teammate out there by himself, and we’re doing that a lot right now. That’s something we have to shore up if we’re going to have a chance to be successful this year.