LATimes: Medina: Phil Jackson agrees with Jerry West's critical comments on Lakers' defense
- From: "$Bill" <news@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Mon, 24 Jan 2011 17:31:01 -0800
Phil Jackson agrees with Jerry West's critical comments on Lakers' defense
January 23, 2011 | 2:43 pm
Philosophically, Jerry West and Phil Jackson rarely agree on much.
The former Lakers star and general manager has long maintained that
talent determines championship success. The current Lakers coach
believes it's the system -- the triangle, teamwork, managing egos to
achieve a final goal -- that's pointed to his 11 championship rings.
But there's at least one point on which the two men reach consensus --
the Lakers' defense needs work.
"If there's a loose ball now, how often do they get it?" West asked as
the keynote speaker Thursday during the annual Orange County Automobile
Dealers Assn. luncheon. "The reason you ‘can't play defense' is
because you can't!"
"He's right, " Jackson said with a smile after Sunday's practice when
West's comments were relayed to him. "We have to do a lot of things
right to play defense the way we want to. Most of it is about
controlling the tempo of the game. Some of it is about speed and
outright speed. We're not the fastest team on the boards. We can do
it if we control things the right way."
<4 min PJ interview video>
And West had more concerns about the Lakers than just their defense.
He believes the team's mileage and age will soon catch up to it: "I
don't think the Lakers will be good for much longer. You can keep a
car running for a long time by changing the tires, etc. You can't
change a player's tires." He also shared his belief that the Boston
Celtics have a good chance to win the NBA title: "I think Boston is a
very dangerous team, " he said. "I would not want to play them every
Incidentally, West made those comments during a speech in which he
preached about the auto industry's need to overcome challenges to
succeed. So it's not as if the Lakers are doomed to failure
defensively. Their 107-97 victory Friday over Denver featured holding
the Nuggets to four fast-break points, and Ron Artest contributed to
Carmelo Anthony scoring 23 points on only 10 of 24 shooting.
The Lakers also credited a new defensive scheme that emphasized forcing
baseline drives instead of through the middle, more emphasis on
perimeter defense and keeping the front-line players close to the
basket as instrumental in holding opponents under 100 points in nine of
the 11 past contests. And statistically, the Lakers have fared well
defensively in points allowed (a 10th best 96.4 points per game),
opponent's field-goal percentage (43.8%, tied for third), opponent's
three-point field-goal percentage (33.9%, fifth overall) and point
differential (-7.04, fourth in the league).
As indicated by the Lakers' sluggish 109-100 loss Wednesday to the
Mavericks, however, the team remains a work in progress in consistently
sharpening those concepts.
Artest was deferential when told about West's comments, saying, "Jerry
West has a great mind. But I'm not sure. It depends. I can't
pinpoint." He then went on to say that he felt "great" physically
before conceding that he had trouble last week "because I couldn't get
in a rhythm" when guarding Clippers guard Eric Gordon, who scored 30
points on 13 of 20 shooting.
To offset opponents' offensive firepower, Jackson also has emphasized
having two players remain close to the basket to grab rebounds, two
players ready to march back on defense and leaving the shooter either
to follow his shot or provide help on the defensive end. And the
Lakers have often allowed their talent level to get into track meets
with teams rather than playing at a deliberate pace.
"It's the toughest time to play defense in the NBA, " Jackson said.
"You can't do it off turnovers very rarely and you can't do it a lot of
times off bad shots. It just goes that way. It's has to be good shots
and it has to be at the right time."
E-mail the Lakers blog at mgmedin@xxxxxxxxx
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