The Lakers are reeling after three consecutive losses to Eastern Conference teams, the last of which was particularly painful seeing as how L.A. blew a 12 point halftime lead against the Nets.
Before tonight’s contest against the Seattle Supersonics, Coach Phil Jackson said that Andrew Bynum misread his clip board on the team’s final play, originally designed for the Lakers center. But, Jackson revealed that the team only runs the out of bounds play in specialized situations, helping to explain Bynum’s confusion. Regardless, Jackson said that the game was lost long before Andrew’s misread or Kobe’s missed free throw. According to the coach, the sign of a good team is one that comes out with a killer instinct in the third quarters of games—especially ones in which teams enter halftime already up by double digits.
Jackson also gave an unofficial injury update on Kwame Brown, noting that observers have told him that they have seen improvement in the Lakers center. However, Jackson was not prepared to offer any predictions as to when Brown will rejoin the team on the court, but said the team will definitely miss him in games like tonight. Seattle forward/center Chris Wilcox has historically caused match-up problems for the Lakers as he is capable of running down the court with ease—a potential disadvantage on defense tonight with Bynum assigned to Wilcox. Bynum should have a sizeable advantage on the offensive end though according to Jackson.
Kevin Durant is another Sonic who could cause the Lakers trouble, even though he has not shot the ball well in his rookie season so far. Still, Jackson said, “He’s dangerous, there’s no doubt about it.” During practice yesterday, the team did not single out Durant’s game, instead opting to focus on the overall team offense run by the Sonics.
Jackson also spoke about the problems Luke Walton has faced this year, explaining that he has dealt with a variety of minor injuries in addition to settling into a new role after starting at small forward last year. The Lakers coach said that Luke recently told him that he finally feels he is ready to perform at his 2006-2007 level again.
While the Lakers should be able to handle the Sonics at home tonight, they will need Walton at full strength when they enter a string of upcoming games against more established teams like the Denver Nuggets and Orlando Magic.