This was Phil Jackson, pre-game on what he liked and didn’t like about his team:
“Were not as good a rebounding team as Id like. Defensively, we still have some distance to go. Well know more about that if and when we get our players back and healthy. We have been taking care of the ball better, and thats an exceptional value in a playoff situation where you want to get those turnovers down in around 10.
“The shooting is good, the free throw shooting can still improve. Our 3-point shooting and our offense is looking very good. Guys share the ball. Assist wise were at a level Im sure must be in the top five in the league. Those things I like about this team. I think defensively we can get better.”
Interesting that thus far, the rebounding has been lacking. The Blazers — center Joel Przybilla, in particular — are killing the Lakers on the board, 24-16, and have seven offensive rebounds. On one sequence in the first half, they grabbed three offensive rebounds.
After finding themselves in a 27-12 hole, and Bryant and Odom saddled with two fouls, the reserves picked up the defense and thanks to the 3-point shooting of Jordan Farmer — who was the beneficiary of good ball movement — crawled back. Vujacic’s 3-pointer puts the Lakers ahead, though at 40-39 this still has the feel of one that’s going to crunch time.
It’s early, just about midway through the first quarter and this has the vibe of a tough one for the Lakers. It’s clear this isn’t the Sonics, Hawks, Clipper and T-Wolves — who the Lakers have beaten up on lately.
It’s not just the Blazers good early ball movement, but they’re long and athletic — and getting after the Lakers defensively. Travis Outlaw, the lanky 6-9 small forward appears to be making Kobe a little uncomfortable, this being a relative term. So far, it’s 15-10 at the 5:39 mark.
“I think LeBron is another candidate, Kevin Garnett obviously is the other candidate. But definitely Kobe is having an [MVP type season.] The real value of a super player is he makes other players better. You can see the emphasis in Kobes game to get people involved and make the rest of the team better.”
He was expected to have further tests on his right calf this afternoon, the one he injured against the Clippers on Saturday night. Radmanovic traveled to Seattle, but didn’t suit up.
Said Phil Jackson after Monday’s brief workout:
“Well define it better [after the tests]. The one thing we do have is that he says it feels better. He was unable to play yesterday. We took him along anyway, just in case. Today hes walking with much more ease.”
Here’s what Kobe had to say about his ejection after the otherwise forgetable 111-91 win over Seattle. He was hit with his first technical foul by Brian Forte after he thought he was fouled going after an offensive rebound. Bryant continued after Forte, and despite the efforts of Derek Fisher to head him off, kept on chirping. Forte then tossed him — Bryant’s first ejection of the season.
According to Kobe:
First tech, I didnt say anything. I did not say a word to him.
Second tech was a different story.
Someone grabbed my arm. We go down the
other end of the floor and the next thing I know, Ive got a
Here’s how Phil Jackson saw the ejection of Kobe by referee Brian Forte, the son of long-time NBA official Joe Forte, courtesy of beat writer Elliott Teaford:
You dont know what the action was down there, but there were a
couple of situations where we got caught in the position where guys were
coming over the back, and we were complaining about it at halftime,
about rebound situations that were not called. Seattle is an aggressive
team. Theyre going to go get those balls if theyre free.
I told (Bryant) he shouldnt jump on Junior. His dad might carry a
grudge against him. Thats nepotism in our league. Thats Joe
Fortes son. Hes got a little bit of the red-ass as we say.
The same way David Stern gets a little bit of the red-ass when the integrity of NBA referees — gamblers, aside — is called into question. Phil’s wallet will no doubt be lighter in the next day or two.