Lakers vs. Raptors Pre-Game

Before tonight’s game against the Raptors, Coach Jackson discussed the emergence of Sasha Vujacic this season, otherwise known as “The Machine.” “Sasha’s got a ways to go before we call him “The Machine,” said Jackson. “He still has a tendency to jerk up a shot too quick sometimes…” However, Jackson did say that Vujacic has improved dramatically, noting that this has been a breakout season for him. The Lakers coach also praised Sasha for his ability to take–and make–difficult shots, even when well-defended. Jackson said that the shooter is still a very energetic young man that often gets on opponents nerves due to his pesky defense.

Jackson also reflected on Kobe Bryant’s awe-inspiring 81-point game against the Raptors two season ago, calling it a “unique time” for the Lakers and #24, who averaged 43 points during that history-making month. With this season’s balanced roster a polar opposite of that year’s Kobe-centered offense, Jackson said that having more scoring weapons will almost certainly extend Kobe’s career. “When you have five people involved the game, the team usually does better,” said Jackson.

With Andrew Bynum’s return taking longer than expected, Jackson addressed the curiosity factor that many Lakers fans are experiencing regarding the blossoming star. When he runs into fans in public, Jackson said, “I tell them that he’s coming along well. He’s progressing. It’s not as fast as he’d like to, but we’re looking at the big picture here. We know that he makes a big difference in our team.”

With 13 technical fouls on the season–three away from a league-mandated suspension–Jackson said that he has not had any extended conversation with Bryant on the matter, simply letting him know that he cannot get any more T’s. Jackson added, “We’re just watching our team’s total behavior about getting frustrated in games and how they’re handling that.” According to Jackson, Kobe has acted in a “top dog” role this season, with four or five of his technicals doled out while Bryant is arguing in defense of his teammates.