"They really sucked the joy out of winning that one, didn't they?"
That was Phil Jackson's message to the Lakers after their 115-108 victory Tuesday night at Staples over a Washington Wizards team lacking generally in hap (six wins in 20 tries), but totally hapless on the road, where they dropped to 0-11 on the season. "We made it tougher," Pau Gasol said. "We made it tougher on ourselves."
Tuesday's game was a great example of how fast NBA games can change. The Lakers won the first quarter by 13, tied the second, and were plus-six over halfway through the third, plus four at the 3:27 mark. Over the next three and a half minutes, Washington was 14 points better than L.A. Then in a fourth quarter suddenly more competitive than it needed to be, the Lakers outscored Washington by four. In 207 seconds, the Lakers basically undid over a half-hour's work. Bad execution, particularly in the second unit over the final stretches of the third, opened the door, but things had deteriorated just enough by then. The ball movement leading to 22 assists in the first quarter disappeared.
"We moved the ball quicker. We were sharp with it. What happens is you get a lead, and you start wanting to go for the knockout punch," Derek Fisher said. "So maybe you take a quicker three or a quicker shot to try and bury the team."
This was the sort of thing, along with other questionable choices (Lamar Odom's fourth quarter hoist with 20.5 seconds to play and the Lakers sitting on a four-point lead with shot clock to burn, just to name one example), leaving Phil Jackson somewhat less than satisfied after the game.
Click below for more, including Gasol, Kobe Bryant, Shannon Brown, Derek Fisher, and Lamar Odom.
Gasol echoed many of those sentiments, but spent more time being grilled on his playing time, and how things will change when Andrew Bynum comes back. By then, will it be too late? Will he have burned too much energy in the early going to play effectively down the stretch?
This much I can tell you: Gasol is excited for Bynum's return if for no other reason than he might get a chance to stop talking about his own minutes.
Odom talks about the second half letdown, and the controversial shot. He understood why it was a poor idea... but didn't exactly say he wouldn't do it again, either:
Bryant wasn't exactly wordy after the game, but did have some nice things to say about John Wall:
Fisher, on playing a guy like Wizards rookie John Wall. "There are certain guys where you realize they were maybe four years old, or six years old when I first came into the league. It's fun to run around with them and compete.":
Brown, on what went wrong for the second unit in the third quarter: