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|Luke Walton's first day back to work needed a little work.|
Or, as head coach Phil Jackson put it, "We had too many things going on out there that were not right."First, they settled for too many 3-pointers. Ron Artest's shot selection was particularly egregious. Artest, who carved out a niche in the offense earlier this season as the team's leading 3-point maker, was just 2-for-9 from deep against the Spurs. Thanks to a horrendous 6-for-33 (18.2 percent) mark in his past seven games, his 3-point percentage has plummeted to 36.2 after registering in the low 40s all season long. Even Artest's brother, Daniel, was moved to tweet during the game, "I wonder if Ron friends tell him to just shoot 3's. Hmmm. Ron gotta get back to his roots. Posting up. Maybe I need to visit b4 tha P'offs." There's a saying that Syracuse's hall of fame basketball coach Jim Boeheim likes to use when his players take uncharacteristic shots: "There's a reason you're open, they don't guard you there because they know you can't hit that shot." "I don't think that's the main issue," Artest offered. "The shots will go down." He's right about his shooting not being the main issue, but it is one of a myriad of issues bogging down the Lakers' offense right now. While Artest was missing from deep, Bryant was missing from everywhere, going just 8-for-24 a game after shooting an even more anemic 5-for-23 against Utah on Friday. This isn't meant to harp on Bryant. He is going to have his off nights when he's playing with a fractured index finger on his shooting hand. Jackson also explained that Bryant's legs are still getting back into the shape they were before his left ankle and tendon injury made him miss five games in February But there were a few instances Sunday when Bryant strayed from the offense and tried to go one-on-one out of the frustration of either his man scoring on the other end or a foul call that didn't go his way, and the result was either bad shots or turnovers. Bryant had four turnovers against San Antonio, the 25th time this season he's had four or more turnovers in a game. If it's not Artest's and Bryant's shooting slumps, it's Lamar Odom's inconsistency. A game after his brilliant 26 points on 11-for-14 shooting Friday, Odom finished with just nine points against the Spurs when he had his slashing ability deactivated by smaller, mobile defenders and didn't adjust fast enough to operate out of the post more. Offense is always connected to defense, of course, and the best way to get the basket to look a little bigger in a half-court set is creating some turnovers on defense and getting easy run-outs in transition. But as the Lakers look forward to the playoffs against stiffer competition and teams that take care of the basketball, they can't count on fast-break basketball to pad their scoring totals. They are going to have to tinker with the triangle in the half court. "It's just getting it to click," said Walton, a certified triangle expert after filling in as an assistant coach tracking the Lakers' offensive possessions for the latter part of the 22 games he missed with a back injury. "That needs to happen. It's not like we have to go back to Day 1 of training camp and draw new stuff up, it's there. The knowledge is there, we've done it before. We just have to all do it together consistently."