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SpursFan72
01-07-2004, 01:40 PM
http://www.latimes.com/sports/la-sp-adande7jan07,1,4602426.column?coll=la-headlines-sports

Jackson Saw This Coming, but How Will He Solve It?

MINNEAPOLIS It wasn't the sub-zero temperatures outside that prompted a longing memory of a sunny October day in Hawaii. It was the words that came from Gary Payton's mouth, the inevitable spout-off prompted by the first three-game losing streak of the season.

Laker Coach Phil Jackson knew this moment was coming, and he braced himself for it during lunch at a poolside cafe in the team's training camp hotel.

"I'm sure Gary's going to be a volatile player," Jackson said that day. "That's OK. I'm OK with guys that want to speak their piece, as long as they're speaking from a true space, they're being honest, it's not a selfish motive, a self-serving motive. It's a motive from the heart, of what we're trying to accomplish as a basketball team. I'm willing to listen and willing to help. I'm prepared for that."

Now the question is, what is his response? The team's confidence level is sagging and the frustration is mounting, especially Payton's. The moment is here.

It came Tuesday night, after a 106-90 defeat to the Minnesota Timberwolves at Target Center.

Payton played only 30 minutes, the 18th time this season he has played less than 35 minutes (not including his first-quarter ejection against Dallas). That doesn't sit well with a man who's accustomed to ranking among the league leaders in playing time not to mention scoring and assists.

"I didn't sign up for this ," he said.

Minnesota point guard Sam Cassell played with Payton for three months in Milwaukee last season after the Seattle SuperSonics traded Payton to the Bucks. They became close, close to the point that Cassell could observe Payton's body language and pick up enough words in the non-stop verbal stream between the two players to tell that all is not right in Payton's world.

"That's not him," Cassell said. "He needs the ball. I know him."

Payton often gets the ball in unusual positions, out on the wing or in the pinch post. Or he gives it to Kobe Bryant and never sees it again. He doesn't get many clear-outs, isolations or screens dedicated to him, because the triangle offense isn't designed to feature the point guard.

Payton has made his displeasure known to Jackson a couple of times this season, and each time it resulted in more minutes the next game and at least a temporary pacification of his point guard.

But Jackson's solutions for the rest of the team won't come that easily. He needs to install some confidence in his squad. It's interesting that former Laker Mark Madsen said he knew the Lakers would mount a rally from their 23-point deficit Tuesday just because he saw Jackson sitting at the other end, but none of the Lakers seemed to indicate the same belief in their coach.

Yes, the Lakers don't have Shaquille O'Neal and Karl Malone, but their problems preceded the sprained knee ligament Malone suffered Dec. 21 or the calf muscle O'Neal strained Jan. 2. Without their 57,000 career points, the Lakers still have the coach with nine championship rings.

Jackson has been short on solutions lately. Tuesday he had plenty of opinions on Pete Rose's Hall of Fame eligibility (he believes Rose should eventually be granted entry but only after he genuflects before the shrine in Cooperstown like Tibetan Buddhists prostrating themselves before a mountain), but no answers about the Lakers' woeful defense, scorched for 62 points on 61.5% shooting by the Timberwolves in the first half.

What Jackson has demonstrated lately is a willingness to send in the reserves when the starters can't cut it, and leave the backups in as long as they're getting it done. This made two games in a row that a summer league lineup has chopped down an opponents' lead in the fourth quarter while the Big Four (make that the Remaining Two) watched.

The starting front court of Horace Grant, Slava Medvedenko and Devean George produced only six points in the first half, so they played (in order) seven, 10 and nine minutes in the second.

But Jackson can't keep his starters on the bench for too many quarters or games, because that would force him to rely on rookies such as Brian Cook, Luke Walton and Jamal Sampson and we all know what Jackson thinks about rookies.

Jackson hasn't threatened to ship anyone out; he knows full well that the primary solution to the Lakers' problems will be to get O'Neal and Malone back into uniform, and that no other team around the league is eager to help the Lakers before then.

We haven't really heard Jackson challenge this team. He didn't throw his old Chicago Bulls' mark of 72 victories out there as a target for this group. He isn't even talking about the best record in the NBA this season, sounding as if he'd settle for a spot among the top four in the Western Conference.

"I want to have home-court advantage some segment of the playoff," Jackson said. "We do know that last year, getting on the road right off the bat and flying all over this Western Conference to play playoff games, every other day as the league scheduled was very tiring on us as a basketball team. As a consequence, it wore us out. And we don't want that to happen again. We get home-court advantage, it's entirely different, it changes the whole [complexion] of the travel during playoffs."

The complexion of the Laker season is changing, from one for the ages to a struggle just to stay ahead of the Minnesotas and San Antonios of the league.

This is where the focus shifts from the four Hall of Famers on the court to the one sitting on the bench.



J.A. Adande can be reached at j.a.adande@latimes.com. To read previous columns by Adande, go to latimes.com/adande.

DNNF
01-07-2004, 01:55 PM
Isn't this what we all imagine right after the sigining of malone and payton?

TripleDipping
01-07-2004, 02:07 PM
OH MY LORD WHAT A BIG SURPRISE!!! i/expressions/face-icon-small-shocked.gif

Dirkenstien
01-07-2004, 02:11 PM
well you cant always have your cake and eat it too. Payton needs to mature up and take the bad with the good

Drbio
01-07-2004, 02:22 PM
shocker. i/expressions/rolleye.gif

Drbio
01-07-2004, 02:23 PM
Or he gives it to Kobe Bryant and never sees it again.

Not the first time we have heard this is it?

Shaq Attack2
01-07-2004, 06:54 PM
AFAIK Payton is just miffed at Phil for not getting more playing time. He played a mere 30 minutes against Minnesota, which is ridiculous knowing Karl and Shaq are out and you need Gary to step up in as much of the game as possible, and that can't be done in 30 minutes usually when you're sitting on the bench for 4, 5 or 6 minute stretches. Phil sometimes plays his guys way too little, and that's not a good combination with Payton, knowing he averaged 40 mpg all last season.

WayOutWest
01-07-2004, 08:16 PM
Winning will take care of all that.

Once the Lakers are all healthy and winning again these bumps in the road will be forgotten, heck Karl and Gary might forget their entire careers prior to the Lakers once they hoist up the 2004 NBA Championship trophy in June.

ocelot_ark
01-08-2004, 02:40 AM
Ahh, there's that Laker arrogance this board has been missing, WayOutWest. Thanks for adding your opinion.

Phil's saving Payton. He's old, therefore he doesn't want to waste Payton on the regular season. Besides, don't all Laker fans know that the regular season is pointless (sarcasm).

Shaq Attack2
01-08-2004, 03:47 AM
Originally posted by: ocelot_ark
Phil's saving Payton. He's old, therefore he doesn't want to waste Payton on the regular season.

I'd think that were true, but now Phil has played Payton only 60 minutes in the last two games. Granted, they were back to backs on the road, but in today's Nuggets game Payton had a hot hand yet was promptly sat for 6 minutes. Payton should have received at least another 6-7 minutes the last two games.

Dooby
01-08-2004, 09:42 AM
I believe I predicted this very thing before the season-In January or February, they'd be bitching about minutes and shots and we'd be discussing whether or not it was working. In the next paragraph, I said they'd straighten it out and still win the NBA championship. Huh.

WayOutWest
01-08-2004, 10:40 AM
Originally posted by: Dooby
I believe I predicted this very thing before the season-In January or February, they'd be bitching about minutes and shots and we'd be discussing whether or not it was working. In the next paragraph, I said they'd straighten it out and still win the NBA championship. Huh.

You and about 99.98% of all non-Laker fans.

This drama is pretty minor compared to the Kobe/Shaq soap opera. The absolute wose thing about the Lakers right now is their "wait until Shaq and Karl comeback" attitude. The Lakers are just dogging it defensively, it's a shame.

Shaq Attack2
01-09-2004, 12:59 AM
Originally posted by: Dooby
I believe I predicted this very thing before the season-In January or February, they'd be bitching about minutes and shots and we'd be discussing whether or not it was working. In the next paragraph, I said they'd straighten it out and still win the NBA championship. Huh.

Yeah, I'd really like to see who predicted before the season started that Karl or Gary would be complaining about minutes. Everyone was predicting chemistry problems and that Karl and Gary would want more shots. Looks like those things have come true...not.

V
01-09-2004, 12:57 PM
It was reported in the LA Times that a local realtor recently sent out promo calendars with the Lakers' schedule imprinted on one side.

On the back?


First aid tips - for choking. i/expressions/face-icon-small-wink.gif

Male30Dan
01-09-2004, 01:00 PM
Coincidence???

razap
01-09-2004, 01:13 PM
Originally posted by: Shaq Attack2

Originally posted by: Dooby
I believe I predicted this very thing before the season-In January or February, they'd be bitching about minutes and shots and we'd be discussing whether or not it was working. In the next paragraph, I said they'd straighten it out and still win the NBA championship. Huh.

Yeah, I'd really like to see who predicted before the season started that Karl or Gary would be complaining about minutes. Everyone was predicting chemistry problems and that Karl and Gary would want more shots. Looks like those things have come true...not.

HEY SHACK ATTACK..STILL STANDING BY THAT "SPURS WILL BE LUCKY TO WIN 50 BALLGAMES" QUOTE? OR WAS IT 40-50 GAMES.. by the way my only curiuosity with the lakers was how they would handle losing more so than playing time and shots.. you know as well as i do if you are winning everything else is secondary but i wanted to see this when they started to lose.. nice to see the implosing begining..

razap
01-09-2004, 01:13 PM
Originally posted by: Shaq Attack2

Originally posted by: Dooby
I believe I predicted this very thing before the season-In January or February, they'd be bitching about minutes and shots and we'd be discussing whether or not it was working. In the next paragraph, I said they'd straighten it out and still win the NBA championship. Huh.

Yeah, I'd really like to see who predicted before the season started that Karl or Gary would be complaining about minutes. Everyone was predicting chemistry problems and that Karl and Gary would want more shots. Looks like those things have come true...not.

HEY SHACK ATTACK..STILL STANDING BY THAT "SPURS WILL BE LUCKY TO WIN 50 BALLGAMES" QUOTE? OR WAS IT 40-50 GAMES.. by the way my only curiuosity with the lakers was how they would handle losing more so than playing time and shots.. you know as well as i do if you are winning everything else is secondary but i wanted to see this when they started to lose.. nice to see the implosion begining..

WayOutWest
01-09-2004, 03:44 PM
Originally posted by: V
First aid tips - for choking. i/expressions/face-icon-small-wink.gif

Tips for choking a Canadian or a German?

V
01-10-2004, 12:34 AM
Originally posted by: WayOutWest

Originally posted by: V
First aid tips - for choking. i/expressions/face-icon-small-wink.gif

Tips for choking a Canadian or a German?

LOL

By the way... the Lakers are up on Atlanta by FIFTY POINTS

The score is 104 to 54

I have never seen a score like that. They must be gettin lucky i/expressions/face-icon-small-wink.gif