Phil Jackson wants consistency from his bench. He made that much clear Thursday after Lakers practice.
The Lakers are winners of four straight, and with 14 games remaining in the he's concerned with the Lakers reserves.
"Some games, they're not going to be there and it's going to be tough to score, but you have to have the energy and the idea of what you want to get accomplished," Jackson said. "We've had some fall off in our bench the last couple - it's been a while [since they performed well]. I can't remember how many games back. We need to have that punch to help us through."
Jackson has increased the playing time for Sasha Vujacic. Vujacic's time on the floor has come at the expense of guard Jordan Farmar. Jackson pointed to matchup issues in Tuesday's win in Sacramento as a reason for Farmar's reduced role. But the coach emphasized the need to get Vujacic, who recently returned after missing eight games with a sprained right shoulder, into good form.
"Sasha can do a lot of things for us on the court, if he's under control and feels comfortable out there on the court. We need that," Jackson said. "We need a guy who can hit three-pointers against a zone defense, we need a guy who can operate in the guard offense position, and also on the wings, because we need some relief at that wing position."
Shannon Brown's playing time has remained fairly consistent recently. But, while Jackson praised Brown's versatility, he noted areas of needed improvement. "He's still learning some of the guard skills, some of the guard reads" he said. "(Sasha) and Jordan have more of the guard skill, operational skill, than Shannon does, but that's what he's got to learn."
Jackson also indicated a desire to find minutes for more seldom used players on the roster like Josh Powell and D.J. Mbenga, and hopes to get Luke Walton, out with a back injury, into the rotation before the end of the regular season.
Kobe Bryant wasn't as concerned with the bench play, saying the group has "a lot of firepower with Shannon and Jordan kind of leading the way. I think Sasha coming back has really helped us tremendously because we have that floor spreader. He's been playing well with the minutes he's gotten the last few games."
Brian Kamenetzky cover the Lakers for ESPNLosAngeles.com and is co-author of the Land 'O Lakers blog.