Wednesday, November 10, 2010
Updated: November 11, 12:23 PM ET
Kobe Bryant says Lakers are OK
By Dave McMenamin
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- The Los Angeles Lakers let a one-win Minnesota Timberwolves team threaten their undefeated record Tuesday night, but the lackluster effort didn't cause much of a hangover after practice Wednesday.
"I think we know yesterday was a tough game for us but I don't want to be too harsh," Kobe Bryant said. "We've blown out bad teams this year, we've blown out good teams; we've blown everybody out. We had a tough game last night, but we're OK."
It was the rare occurrence of Bryant playing the good cop to fellow co-captain Derek Fisher's bad cop.
After the Lakers eked out their 99-94 win against the Wolves after being beaten on the boards by 12, Fisher tore into the team.
"The way we played tonight was irresponsible and it was reckless and it was disrespectful," Fisher said Tuesday. "I can't get any clearer than that. There was an air of complacency, of arrogance, of 'We don't have to play as hard as the other team to win' that I didn't like tonight."
Bryant said the team did not dwell on Fisher's comments at practice, but understood the Lakers' starting point guard's stance after coming into the league with him as rookies together in 1996.
"Derek gets upset," Bryant said. "His temper, in a lot of ways, is quicker than mine, especially when he doesn't agree with the effort that's being put out on the floor."
Lakers head coach Phil Jackson did not do anything out of the ordinary during practice to emphasize how unsatisfactory Tuesday's game was. His veteran group was already aware.
"I don't think I need to do a thing, actually," Jackson said. "In reflection, I think most of the guys felt like they didn't play up to what they like to play to. Minnesota had something to do with it. You always have to give some credit to your opponent."
Jackson said Fisher's opinion is valued, but took umbrage with some of Fisher's word choice.
"Disrespect is a potent word in our society now," Jackson said. "I don't know if it was total disrespect, but I think it was unconscious, just lack of a real conscious effort of what we're trying to get accomplished out there."
Still, 8-0 is 8-0 and now the Lakers will put the second-best start in team history on the line when they fly to Denver for Thursday's game against the Nuggets.
Denver would love to have L.A.'s problems, as the Nuggets are just 4-4 and are coming off a 144-113 loss in Indiana on Tuesday when they gave up 54 points to the Pacers in the third quarter alone.
The Lakers' course may have been altered slightly by malaise against Minnesota, but by no means does anyone on the team fear rough waters ahead.
"It would be [a big deal] if it happens two or three more games," Pau Gasol said. "One game? Not a big deal. You win the game? Not a big deal. A few more games [like that]? Concerning."
Dave McMenamin covers the Lakers for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Follow him on Twitter.