Archive for the 'Derek Fisher' Category

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Fisher Not Taking Jazz Lightly

Fish - D-WillWe’ve talked about it all week … L.A. could still face any one of three teams in the first round: Utah, Dallas or New Orleans. While the Jazz (47-33) might be the most likely opponent at this point, we simply won’t know until Wednesday evening.

Nonetheless, Utah’s 15-25 road record, which includes just two wins over + .500 teams, is puzzling, and prompted a question towards Derek Fisher after Monday’s practice: Can Utah’s road woes be explained by their significant home court advantage being absent? In other words, since the Jazz get such a large mental boost at home, is there a letdown factor on the road?

Fisher didn’t think so. To him, their struggles had more to do with how many games they’ve missed to injuries from Deron Williams, Andrei Kirilenko and especially Carlos Boozer. Regardless, Fisher said the Lakers won’t take the Jazz, or any playoff opponent, at all lightly, and particularly not just because of a regular season trend.

The playoffs, after all, are a different beast.

Phil After Practice

As one may have expected, Kobe Bryant will be taping his injured finger.

“It’ll be something he has to tape for a considerably long time,” said Phil Jackson. “Maybe the whole season even … But (athletic trainer Gary) Vitti said it wasn’t as bad as he anticipated.”

Neither Bryant nor Derek Fisher participated in practice on Tuesday, getting their regular practice rest from Jackson, but both are ready to play against the Clippers on Wednesday.

Jackson went on to speak more about Bryant’s finger injury, which you can watch in the practice video.

Walton, Vujacic Probable for Orlando

The Lakers finally received some good news on the injury front after Friday’s shootaround.

Both Luke Walton and Sasha Vujacic are listed as “probable” after Vujacic missed L.A.’s two-game Texas trip with back spasms and Walton the last seven games with his injured foot.

Walton and Vujacic participated in shootaround Friday and appeared to be moving well, though there’s always the chance that either injury could flare up prior to the 7:30 p.m. tip.

In other news, Derek Fisher’s groin strain does not appear to be an issue, and he is expected to start. That leaves Jordan Farmar as the only player on the roster that will definitely not play.

Fisher Revelling in Big Minutes

Derek FisherFact: Every NBA player wants to play big minutes.

With perhaps a few exceptions (uniquely unmotivated souls, you know who you are), playing time is the thing players covet most and control least. That mandate may not apply as directly to players like Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol, whose talents any coach simply can’t leave on the pine … But nearly every other player on L.A.’s roster knows that at least some of his professional livelihood may depend on if Phil Jackson decides to play him 10, 20 or 30 minutes a night.

Players as good as Lamar Odom, Andrew Bynum and Derek Fisher are going to earn their share of minutes, but playing 20 vs. 30 can make a huge impact not only on the team, but more pointedly (in this case) on a player’s production.

For Fisher, getting big minutes hasn’t been much of an issue since his backup, Jordan Farmar, went down with a knee injury on Dec. 19 against Miami.

Derek Fisher 2008-09 Stats
Pre Farmar Injury:
28.0 minutes; 10.5 points; 3.3 assists; 2.5 rebounds; 0.9 turnovers; 41.3% FGs

Post Farmar Injury: 36.2 minutes; 14.8 points; 4.0 assists; 2.8 rebounds; 1.0 turnovers; 49% FGs

Totals Through 30 Games
29.4 minutes; 11.2 points, 3.4 assists, 2.6 rebounds; .93 turnovers; 42.8% FGs

Does 34 Matter?
The other number upon which there’s been a focus at least in the media is Fisher’s age: 34.

Though we should acknowledge that Fisher’s 34 isn’t the usual 34 – not after he takes such terrific care of his conditioning – do we know if playing six more minutes a game, on average, since Farmar’s injury makes a big difference on a body that hasn’t missed a game in four years? Maybe not. Fish has maintained throughout his career that he trains his body to play 48 minutes a night, and he honestly doesn’t appear to be fazed in the least – not that it should surprise us.

“I think it’s fun to compete,” said the veteran after Wednesday’s practice. “Guys that have made it to this level of professional sports – the drive and the persistence and determination that you have to show to get to this point – you don’t get here to want to sit on the bench half the game, and that goes for everybody.”

Of course, the feeling is somewhat fleeting.

“I think the difference for me is that through my life experiences and my basketball experiences, I know it’s not something that will stay forever,” Fisher added. “So I appreciate it and I maximize it when it’s there, but I’m smart enough and enough of a team player to know when to step back as soon as Jordan comes back, because he’s an important member of our team.”

Farmar did say at Thursday’s practice that his knee feels really good after the surgery. But until then, Coach, Fish doesn’t seem to mind playing all 48. That’s up to you.

Pre-Boston Audio: Derek Fisher

Derek Fisher addressed L.A.’s mindset heading into the Boston game, looked forward to the energy of the players and the crowd and added this quote:

“It’s the same way I feel about the Pistons: If you lose in the Finals, that’s the end of your relationship. It’s over.”

Here’s the audio:

Kobe Leads West On First All-Star Ballot

Kobe Bryant
CLICK HERE TO VOTE FOR YOUR LAKERS ALL-STARS

The NBA’s 58th All-Star Game is all set to be played in Phoenix on Sunday, Feb. 15. All it needs is some players.

One will surely be Kobe Bryant, who after the first ballot returns leads all Western Conference players with 719,252 votes, followed by Yao Ming’s 529,290. That’s not close. Chris Paul follows Bryant at the guard position with 406,220 votes, while Tim Duncan (442,203) and Amar’e Stoudemire (370,470) lead Western Conference forwards. Pau Gasol ranks fifth among forwards with 260,374 votes. At center, Shaquille O’Neal (227,273) trails Yao, and is followed by Mehmet Okur (162,139) and then Andrew Bynum (155,689).

Let’s take a look at the whole ballot, and then summarize the positioning of each Lakers player:

2009 Western Conference All-Star Balloting – No. 1
Forwards: Tim Duncan (SA) 442,203; Amar’e Stoudemire (Pho) 370,470; Carmelo Anthony (Den) 327,233; Dirk Nowitzki (Dal) 261,952; Pau Gasol (LAL) 260,374; Ron Artest (Hou) 214,063; Bruce Bowen (SA) 121,739; Shane Battier (Hou) 115,981; Josh Howard (Dal) 113,456; Luis Scola (Hou) 82,344; Lamar Odom (LAL) 78,422.

Guards: Kobe Bryant (LAL) 719,252; Chris Paul (NO) 406,220; Tracy McGrady (332,222); Manu Ginobili (SA) 166,981; Jason Kidd (Dal) 162,286; Tony Parker (SA) 161,638; Steve Nash (Pho) 142,410; Jason Terry (Dal) 105,345; Chauncey Billups (Den) 87,172; Brandon Roy (Por) 78,071; Rafer Alston (Hou) 73,613.

Centers: Yao Ming (Hou) 529,290; Shaquille O’Neal (Pho) 227,273; Mehmet Okur (Utah) 162,139; Andrew Bynum (LAL) 155,689; Greg Oden (Por) 71,366; Andris Biedrins (GS) 65,496; Al Jefferson (Minn) 46,242; Tyson Chandler (NO) 39,467; Marcus Camby (LAC) 25,824; Chris Kaman (LAC) 9,104; Brad Miller (Sac) 6,892.

Kobe Bryant
Kobe’s huge lead in the Western Conference should only grow as the season goes on. If Kobe isn’t voted in as a starter for the 11th time in his career (every year but his rookie season and there was no game in 1999), then “The Office” is a terrible show that’s never funny and has bad actors. We don’t even need to bother discussing this.

Pau Gasol
Pau’s case is a bit more interesting. First of all, I’ll argue that he should be an All-Star. He’s very clearly been the second-best player on an 18-3 team, and has the numbers to back it up: 18.0 points (20th in the West); 9.2 rebounds (7th); 3.4 assists; 0.95 blocks; and, perhaps most impressively, 57.1 field goal shooting, which ranks fourth in the league behind three players that score mostly on dunks and layups (Nene, Shaq and Emeka Okafor). While Pau is unlikely to be voted in as a starter ahead of Duncan, Amare, ‘Melo or Dirk, one would think that the NBA’s coaches value and respect Gasol’s game enough to put him on the squad. Even if the just mentioned four players all get into the game, it’s hard to think that the coaches would rather have Artest, Bowen, Battier, Howard or Scola, who trail Gasol in votes. A few other players not yet cracking the vote minimum are Carlos Boozer (who’s been hurt); David West, who was an All-Star last season; Zach Randolph, who – no matter what you say about him – is averaging 20 and 11; LaMarcus Aldridge; and Al Jefferson, who’s actually listed as a center but is averaging 21 and 10 and could get in as a forward/center if Minnesota wins a few more games. Yet and still, do you think any of those players are more deserving than Pau? Me either.

Andrew Bynum
Unless Sun Yue makes a few calls to China on Bynum’s behalf, it’ll be quite difficult to jump Yao as the West’s starter at center. But there’s a good argument for Bynum being the West’s No. 2 center, particularly when we consider that his numbers should keep improving all the way up to the All-Star Game. Right now, he’s averaging 13.3 points, 8.9 boards (8th in the West), 1.95 blocks (7th in the NBA) and is shooting 56 percent from the floor (9th in the NBA). Andris Biedrins is putting up impressive numbers (15.2 points, 12.4 rebounds) but is on a bad team, just like Al Jefferson. Were Bynum the focal point of a team’s offense (like Al) or its only big man (like Biedrins), his numbers would probably rise to their level. As for the other two besides Yao ahead of ‘Drew, Shaq’s 15.4 and 8.4 are fine, but he doesn’t play the second side of back-to-backs. Okur’s numbers are right there with Shaq at 15.2 and 7.8, but the Turk is really more of a perimeter-oriented player on offense and doesn’t protect the rim on defense. Marcus Camby’s playing well, but Chris Kaman, Brad Miller, Tyson Chandler and Greg Oden shouldn’t threaten Bynum too much – it’ll be more about if Drew’s production continues to progress as it has in the last few weeks. If so, the kid’s first All-Star berth could be his reward.

Lamar Odom and Derek Fisher
While Odom’s currently the 11th player in terms of votes on the All-Star ballot, and certainly has All-Star caliber skills, he probably isn’t getting enough playing time on L.A.’s talent-laden squad to make as good of a case as other players. So with Lamar, let’s monitor his play (and minutes) heading into the next round of votes.

Fisher is the fifth Lakers player on the ballot, but with point guards like Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Tony Parker, Steve Nash, Baron Davis and now Chauncey Billups out West … Well let’s just say it’ll be tough.

CLICK HERE TO VOTE FOR YOUR LAKERS ALL-STARS

Fish Gets Physical

Derek FisherDerek Fisher is in his fourth-straight year without missing a single game due to injury.

How about that?

It’s one of those statistics that gets not near enough credit or attention, but before we explore it any further, let’s go ahead and knock on wood a few times. Did you do it? Thanks.

Anyways, after coming upon that fact, I wanted to ask Fisher if anything’s changed in his preparation for a season and for games since he began his pro career in 1996. So before the Lakers took on the Mavericks Tuesday night in Dallas, I chatted with Fisher as he headed out for pregame warmups.

MT: What’s changed in your preparation from your rookie year until now?
Fisher: I think the biggest thing that’s changed in being a 22-year-old rookie to a 34-year-old veteran is physical. I’ve always mentally tried to prepare myself for who we were playing and the guys we match up against, but physical preparation has always been key for me. My personal trainer and I have come up with some things in the last few years to physically prepare me to play the game, making sure that everything is firing good and ready to go, that’s been really key for me. I’ve really enjoyed that process and it’s worked well for me.

MT: Obviously your body doesn’t respond the same way as it once did, when you barely had to warm up…
Fisher: As you get older and you play as many games as I have, and Kobe has and other guys that have been around for a long time, the body starts to wear. It takes a little bit longer to get the fireplace on each year that goes by, and preparation keeps you from having some of those nagging injuries and strains that require you to miss time and being away from the team. Going into my fourth year without missing a game due to injury at all, I (feel good) about my methods. It’s been an educational process for me, and I feel like I can continue to get better because of it. Just because I’m 34 doesn’t mean I have to ride off into the sunset. I feel like I can make major contributions to the team, and that’s what being on a team is all about.

In short, Fisher trains both hard and smart, and has a very specific plan to build muscle and take care of his body so that the toll of the 82+ game season keeps him on the court. Prior to games is never the time to have extended conversations with players since they’re trying to prepare, so I didn’t ask Fish for specifics about his routine. But, hopefully, we’ll get to that soon.

What was interesting to me Tuesday night is that Fisher struggled with his jumper throughout the game that started an hour after our conversation, making just 1-of-8 shots. But he managed to come up with four defensive rebounds, including the biggest board of the game in the final seconds, and added three assists and two steals. Often times it’s been his shot that’s given L.A. a big lift, but the point is that Fisher’s ability to keep himself in such fantastic shape (coupled with his hoops IQ) puts him in a good position to help his team in one way or another. And that’s his whole plan.

Clearly he’s onto something.

OK, time to go find a tree to knock on.

GM’s Favor Lakers

The NBA’s annual General Manager survey has been released by the league and over 46% think the Lakers will take home the title this year.

The Celtics came in second with 19.2% of the vote and the Hornets garnered 11.5%.

The Purple & Gold are also the overwhelming favorite to win the West (66.7%) and the Pacific Division (100%).

As for individual honors, GM’s thought that Phil Jackson was the second best coach in the league (behind Gregg Popovich), but was the best motivator in the league by far. Guard Derek Fisher also made the top three of active players that will make the best head coach someday.

Derek Fisher Bobcats Preview

Lakers guard Derek Fisher talks with Mike Trudell about the Charlotte Bobcats. The Lakers play the Bobcats in San Diego tonight and Anaheim on Thursday.

Kobe, Phil, Fish and … Dennis Rodman?

Perhaps the most interesting thing we learned prior to Lakers practice Monday at the team’s training facility wasn’t about Lamar Odom’s role, Andrew Bynum’s health or Sun Yue’s nickname. Instead, a local reporter asked Bryant what he thought about Phil Jackson calling Dennis Rodman – not Michael Jordan – the best athlete he ever coached.

“I do not disagree with that at all,” said Bryant. “People obviously think of Jordan first, but as an athlete, Dennis was a freak of nature. In terms of his size, he ran like a deer, he could run all day, he could defend from the one position all the way up to the five. Look at one series when he was guarding Jordan when he was with Detroit, and fast forward to when he was with the Bulls and he was guarding Shaq. You don’t see athletes like that too often.”

Interesting, right? Kobe went on to describe one training camp practice lineup that included a team of No. 24, Trevor Ariza, Lamar Odom, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum, a group Bryant said made it difficult to even see the paint defensively due to the collective length. Good point. I’d take that combined wingspan against that of the Raiders’ offensive line, plus a tight end and a blocking back. Bryant also praised Gasol’s all-around hoops skill (heard that before); talked about liking the small forward position as it allows him to attack defenses in different ways (more on that later); and explained how comfortable camp has been since the entire team knows Jackson’s system (very). As for the coach…

He of nine NBA (coaching) Championships spoke to media for only a few minutes, but of course provided some interesting sound bites. He contradicted Bryant’s statement that Gasol and Bynum looked “great” together with this comment:

“Right now (Bynum and Gasol) are very clumsy and aren’t working well together . We have a group that played together very well last year, and there are some things that we need to discuss to see how long we drag this out and how quickly we facilitate this.”

Jackson did qualify his comment by stating that once everyone figures out where they fit in, the team has the ability to play “exceptionally well.” Jackson also reported that both Bryant and Gasol will play against Utah in Anaheim on Tuesday at 7 p.m., contrary to some speculation wondering if the Olympic stars would be rested. Jackson expects Bryant to play for about half the game, while Gasol could see even less time as the head coach wants PT for Bynum, Chris Mihm and D.J. Mbenga.

In other news, Derek Fisher spoke at length about his health; with no medical degree on this end, perhaps it’s better if you hear it from Fisher.