Early Saturday morning, technically, but we're not here to split hairs.
Not a pretty win for the Lakers- 108-105 over Toronto at Staples- but they'll take it. Often, Phil Jackson will seem more casual after lesser efforts than he will the dominant one, and Friday was no exception. Obviously he'd prefer they shore up some of the defensive problems hurting them in what was definitely a closer game than the rosters would predict, but Jackson seemed to appreciate it in a big picture sense. "I kind of valued the fact that they gave us a game and came out competitive in that second period [in which Toronto outscored L.A. 38-22] and took the lead. I thought it was good for our team to have to face a little adversity."
As Jackson notes, the Lakers were absolutely pummeled on the boards. 49 to 31 overall, and Toronto snagged 19 offensive rebounds, only five fewer than the Lakers grabbed on the defensive glass. That ain't good. Pau Gasol didn't pick up his first board until the third quarter. I asked Jackson what he thought explained such an uncharacteristically low output. "I think they shot 58 percent in the first half. Something like that. So there's a limited amount of rebounds. But this team has a lot of outside, exterior screening going on, where you're on the outside and a lot of times you're on a rotation and may have taken him away from the hoop. I can't remember a lot of opportunities where he could have gotten a rebound, when i think about it. It just wasn't coming his way."
More from Jackson, including his thoughts on the bench play Friday night, as well as the return of Luke Walton. See below for comments from Matt Barnes, Shannon Brown, and Derek Fisher as well.
Jackson, on how his bench is making it easy to measure Kobe's minutes, the play of Brown Friday night, and the return of Luke Walton:
Defensive communication was a major topic of conversation after the game. Both Brown and Barnes acknowledged some snafus, made very problematic by Toronto's somewhat unique offensive attack.
Andy noted all the "little things" Derek Fisher did during Friday's win in his postgame wrap (it's a misleading term, since they weren't all that little). I asked Fish if he draws more enjoyment from plays that may or may not show up in a box score, or the big, game-winning shot for which he's become known around town.
We all expected Luke Walton's back to give him problems. Turns out, his hamstring betrayed him instead. Friday, he made his season debut, and was understandably pleased to be on the floor. Walton said he'd been campaigning to get back in the lineup, but didn't know for sure he'd suit up until he saw his name on the board in the locker room before the game.
His first shot- a triple from the right wing he joked Kobe goaded him into taking- would have been perfect had the rim been about a foot or two farther away. Fair to say he was a little jacked up. Even in a guy's eighth year, the excitement of that first game, that first shot, are palpable.