What’s the best way to figure out the general mood of the Lakers locker room?
Have a chat with Derek Fisher.
What follows is a conversation we had after Monday’s practice, and below that selected postgame comments from Fish after L.A.’s Tuesday evening win against Toronto:
MT: The three-game losing streak was, of course, not exactly what you had in mind. But it doesn’t seem to have affected the team’s confidence in the larger picture…
Fisher: No, (that’s right), but right now I don’t think it’s about confidence. It’s about doing things out on the floor. In some respects, because we still carry so much confidence, we’re still maybe not pressing (the pedal) to the mat in terms of the sense of urgency that we’ve shown in some games. We haven’t been able to stretch that out over two, three weeks, and that’s tough to do in the NBA season. That’s tough to do after experiencing what we have. We lost in the Finals in 2008, won in 2009 and we’re on a quest to win another title. That’s a lot of basketball, it’s a long three-year process, so you’re going to have some ups and downs. But if we can stay healthy and continue to get healthier, we feel OK in terms of where we’ll to be. We still want to have home court advantage in the West, and having (it) overall would be the best of both worlds.
MT: It seems that in many games – especially of late – you’ve been getting the respective best shots other teams have to offer. How would you describe it?
Fisher: I think that’s true in some cases, and I think some teams have gotten better from last season. But also in particular on the road, where it has impacted us to be honest is the fact that some teams have been hit by lower attendance numbers, but when we show up the building is sold out, everybody in the city is talking about the game the whole week. So the pride, the competitive nature and intensity of the team we’re playing that night is also going to go up. So then they go from being a good and competitive team to maybe playing great that night. And since we’re not playing the best that we can play at this point – not that we won’t be playing our best basketball – we haven’t been able to really counter act that. We still like where we are considering everything that we’ve been through, but we just want to get things going back in a more positive direction.
MT: How do you put the rigors of the regular season in perspective, and balance internal and external expectations?
Fisher: It’s a combination of two things. We aren’t necessarily satisfied or OK with how we’re playing or with the results in particular with the last month and a half, close to two months. We just haven’t played good, consistent basketball. I think that’s one piece of it, in terms of our own expectations. And the other piece is, when you are the champions there is a certain level of expectation externally that comes with it. So when you’re going good, everybody’s rolling with you. When you’re not, everybody has things to say. It’s a part of the process, and when you’re here long enough, you figure it out.
Fisher’s postgame comments from Tuesday night’s win over Toronto:
When the giant appears vulnerable or there’s a chink in the armor or there is an open wound, people have a tendency to go at that. Thus far we haven’t come across as invincible or unbeatable, so of course teams are going to believe that they can win … How we play, with efficiency, focus, concentration, that’s what teams need to feel … We’re not playing at the level that we’re capable of playing. I don’t know exactly why – I think you could point to a number of different things – but I think we’re all confident and optimistic that we can figure it out, and we’re going to stay the course.