Monday, February 14, 2011
Phil Jackson: On lopsided losses and short press conferences
By Brian Kamenetzky
19 points at home to Milwaukee.
16 points at home to Miami.
15 points on the road to San Antonio.
By 19 at home to Memphis, five at home to Sacramento (when it's the Kings, the loss need not be by double digits), and 13 at home to Boston. Sunday, it was 14 in Orlando. To the list, Monday's 20 point loss to the Bobcats can now be added. Phil Jackson, speaking to the media after the game, was brief on a level Calvin Coolidge would have appreciated. "I just have this to say; I'm very disappointed in our performance tonight. I'm embarrassed about what we did. That's it."
So was it the worst loss of the season? Bad enough to reduce an entire Q and A with the media to a fully Tweetable 122 characters? 120 if you leave off the quotation marks? I don't know if Jackson was any angrier about Monday's shellacking than he was some of the others over the course of the year. I guarantee he was, to say the least, honked after the Milwaukee and Memphis games, and wasn't exactly the picture of joviality after losing to the Kings.
Anger isn't accurately measured by the word.
Perhaps Monday Jackson was indeed so ticked he thought saying anything might lead to saying something he might regret. Just as likely, he didn't have much to offer beyond what was plain as day to those watching- the Lakers were out-efforted, responded poorly, and put up little resistance in the face of a strong push from an inferior team (and were sloppy in the first half, well before the Bobcats eventually pulled away)- and didn't feel like playing Captain Obvious.
Or maybe he figured one way to convey a message was to change the delivery, sending the assembled media into the locker room asking questions about P.J. being so ticked after the game he couldn't actually speak.
In reality, this probably isn't the worst loss of the year. It was the sixth game in a seven game trip, and the team's fourth game in five days. For whatever reason, the Bobcats hold some serious voodoo over the Lakers. Charlotte, while clearly not a powerhouse, isn't quite as bad as their now-24 win record suggests, having beaten Boston, Atlanta, and now L.A. over the last week. So maybe it's not the worst... but who cares?
I assume what had the coaching staff so ticked was the sense of losing most of the hustle plays over the course of the night. Asked if it was an "effort thing," Andrew Bynum seemed to think so. "Seems to be, if I was looking at the game. It's what it looks like to me," he said. Teams will lose now and again. Sometimes they'll even lose bad. No worries... as long as the effort is there.
In the end, the Lakers are overwhelming favorites to finish the Grammy trip at 5-2. All that stands in their way is a visit Wednesday to Cleveland even the most cynical of fans expect they'll handle. When they left town, five of seven including a win in Boston seemed pretty good. The problem isn't that the Lakers lose, but how. The aesthetics are often awful. Too many in the mold of Monday's to Charlotte, too few resembling their one-point loss to the Spurs at Staples, which while disappointing was an honest, respectable effort. Whether the ugly games (which count equally in the standings to prettier losses) make the Lakers seem worse than they actually are or indicate they're indeed a lesser version than their title-winning incarnations is something nobody will know for sure until the playoffs roll around.
In the meantime, there are some tangible considerations. First, the time required to develop championship consistency is bleeding away. More practically, dropping another game to an inferior team leaves the Lakers one less game to undo the damage from the other games they've lost against lesser-to-bad squads, adding to the number they'll have to win against better competition to earn a higher seed. Over their last 10 games, the Lakers have lost four games in the standings to Dallas, and are again behind them in the race for the second overall seed out west. They've lost three games on Chicago, three on Miami, and, despite the win, one to the Celtics.
Interestingly enough, many of the team's numbers now are similar to last season's, except the Lakers continue working down a path requiring them to be better than the '09-'10 edition, not merely equal.