TIME TO REGROUP EL SEGUNDO - Josh Powell had just out-hustled the starters for an offensive rebound during a five-on-five scrimmage at the end of Monday's practice when Lakers coach Phil Jackson decided he couldn't watch in silence any longer.

"That's what beat us last night," he shouted from his perch on the sideline. "They beat us to the Basketball."

Although Jackson freely admits that even a team of the Lakers' caliber will endure rough patches during an 82-game season, he's nonetheless dissatisfied with his team's focus and effort in its past two games. The Lakers lost by 26 to Denver and by 10 to Houston, their offense stagnant, their defense careless and their energy level tepid with the playoffs still five months away.

The four times the Lakers (7-3) dropped consecutive games last season, they won their next game by an average of nearly 11 points. They'll need to follow that pattern tonight against Detroit (5-5) to avoid their first three-game losing streak since acquiring Pau Gasol in February 2008.

"One game is a bump in the road for this team," Jackson said. "Two is an embarrassment. Three, we don't even want to think about it."

At least the Lakers will likely have Kobe Bryant, who has received "round-the-clock" treatment since aggravating his strained right groin during Sunday night's loss. Bryant ran far more comfortably during Monday's scrimmage, pronouncing himself fit to play against the Pistons afterward.

"I felt OK," he said. "It was tight and stuff like that, but it wasn't enough to keep me out."

For the Lakers to avoid a third consecutive loss tonight, they must find a way to score consistently besides feeding Bryant or Andrew Bynum in the post. The Nuggets and Rockets both consistently double-teamed down low, forcing Bryant and Bynum to either take a difficult contested shot or give up the ball.

Whereas the double teams should be creating open shots for shooters on the perimeter, the Lakers' spacing has been so careless that they've been unable to take advantage. They've shot well below 40 percent in their past two games, sinking just 29 percent of their threes during that stretch.

"We have to really step up our commitment and be a much more disciplined team," guard Derek Fisher said. "We're not even close to setting up correctly. We're far away from the type of spacing and execution we practice. That's what really the whole two hours in practice today was spent on - setting up correctly."

As often happens at every level of Basketball, the Lakers' offensive woes have seeped into all facets of their game. Not only did they allow the undersized Rockets to outrebound them 60-38 on Sunday night, they also loafed back on defense and failed to close out on perimeter threes.

Bryant didn't seem too concerned after Sunday's loss, his voice drenched in sarcasm when he described himself as "mortified." He reiterated his confidence on Monday, highlighting his team's track record after two losses.

"We've been able to bounce back pretty quickly," he said. "When you lose two games in a row, you want to stop it right there and not let it get to three. We've been pretty effective at it."

Play Basketball Hot Streak and win prizes!

Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website:
Added: November 18, 2009


Copyright ©, Inc. All rights reserved 2018.