Tag:Kobe Bryant
Posted on: May 19, 2010 8:49 pm
 

Phil admits pay cut on horizon

LOS ANGELES – Phil Jackson acknowledged Wednesday night that he has been asked to take a pay cut next season if he returns to coach the Lakers, a sign that even one of the most prolific and financially successful franchises in the NBA is watching the bottom line.

In response to recent reports that Jackson has been asked to take a salary reduction from $12 million to $5 million, Jackson said, “Yes, it’s been indicated that there will be a salary cut.” But he wouldn’t go so far as to say it would be as drastic as has been reported – and even hinted that he’d be OK with making significantly less money.

“It’s still a ridiculous salary, whatever it is,” Jackson said.

Given that Jackson, 64, is approaching retirement age, talk of a pay cut could be largely semantics. A significant portion of his income next season could be deferred in the form of retirement benefits, which he would be able to access in a couple of years without penalties. But the notion that even a coach with 10 titles would consider accepting a reduction in salary was only the latest twist in the puzzle that is Jackson’s future.

Jackson said in a radio interview airing Monday that his chances of retiring after the season were “pretty good.” He later backed away from those comments, saying he isn’t leaning one way or another. If his annual postseason physical comes back OK, a couple of other issues could weigh on Jackson’s mind. First, Kobe Bryant recently signed a three-year, $84 million extension, presumably with the belief that Jackson would continue to be his coach. Also, Jackson has publicly stated that he’d be reluctant to walk away after persuading owner Dr. Jerry Buss to sign sixth man Lamar Odom to a three-year, $25 million extension.
Posted on: May 18, 2010 6:26 pm
 

Lucky? Stoudemire shouldn't have gone there

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. – Amar’e Stoudemire wasn’t able to come up with anything on the court to stop Lamar Odom from having a dominant 19-point, 19-rebound performance in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals. So on Tuesday, he came up with an excuse.

“I’m not giving him no hype,” Stoudemire told reporters before the Suns practiced at Staples Center. “He had a lucky game.”

Among other things, Stoudemire is known for his quotability. In a “Twitterview” with NBA media this week, I asked him how far Cleveland would’ve gone if he’d been traded there instead of Antawn Jamison. True to form, Amar’e came through with a one-word answer: “Championship.”

Beautifully done. He may or may not be right about that. But when it comes to Odom, he’s dead wrong.

And foolish for saying it.

As exhibited in the Lakers’ 128-107 victory in Game 1 Monday night, Kobe Bryant is going to get his numbers in this series. With 40 points – 35 of them by the end of the third quarter – Bryant enjoyed his sixth straight 30-point playoff performance. He seemed to relish the Suns’ strategy of trying defending him with 37-year-old Grant Hill. Bryant called that challenge “enjoyable,” and by that, he meant, “Get this old man away from me before I embarrass him.”

Whether it’s Hill or Jason Richardson or Jared Dudley, the Suns have no one who can check Bryant with any semblance of success. For that reason alone, this is going to be a long series for the Suns – or a short one, depending on how you look at it.

But to a man – including Stoudemire – the Suns have insisted that the key to challenging the Lakers is preventing Bryant’s supporting cast from hurting them. This did not go well in Game 1, with Odom’s monstrous game leading a 44-35 scoring advantage by the Lakers’ suspect bench over the Suns’ reserves, who were supposed to have been a key strength going into the series.

“[Bryant] is gonna score,” Stoudemire said after the game. “That’s one thing he’s gonna do. We know that, so we’ve got to make sure we try to contain him a little bit more. But we’ve got to close out the other guys. We’ve got to do a better job on their role players.”

The two sources of consistent production for the Lakers during their title defense have been Bryant and Pau Gasol. Andrew Bynum has been in and out of the box score. Derek Fisher has made some big shots and has held up better than anyone anticipated against three prolific point guards – Russell Westbrook, Deron Williams and now Steve Nash.

But during their run of postseason success in the past five years, Odom’s performance has been a tipping point for the Lakers. When he plays well, the Lakers usually win. When he plays like he did Monday night, the Lakers almost never lose.

With the possible exceptions of Bryant and LeBron James, Odom is as physically gifted as any player who’s come into the league over the past dozen years. It’s often a question of motivation, but there’s no doubting his talent.

“I’ve played with Lamar for a long time, so I wasn’t impressed,” said Ron Artest, who grew up playing with Odom on the playgrounds of Queens, N.Y. and in AAU ball. “I’ve seen him do that all the time.”

So why any opposing player would want to ignite the one area of Odom’s game that is lacking – his motivation – is beyond me. Stoudemire should know better than to rattle Odom’s cage, and he should know better than to say his performance Monday night was an aberration.

The Lakers are 9-2 this season when Odom has 15 or more rebounds, including a 17-point, 19-rebound game against Houston in January and a 10-point, 22-rebound effort against Portland in February – both wins. In his postseason career with the Lakers since the 2005-06 season, the Lakers are 7-2 when Odom has 15 or more rebounds. Four of those nine games have come against the Suns, and Odom scored in double figures in all four, as well. In those games, the Lakers are 2-2.

But even if Stoudemire forgot about those games, surely over the past five years he’s noticed at least a handful of Odom’s 47 games with 15-plus rebounds since he put on a Lakers uniform. If not, maybe he’s seen highlights of one or two of his 174 double-doubles as a Laker. During the same five-year period, Stoudemire has 28 games with 15-plus rebounds and 156 double-doubles. How many of those were luck?

After throttling Stoudemire and the Suns’ supposedly improved defense in Game 1, Odom wouldn’t engage him in a war of words Tuesday.

“I’m not gonna do that,” Odom said. “Not when it comes to basketball.”

As for his performance, Odom said, “It was good. Could be better. Hopefully I can have another lucky one.”
Posted on: May 17, 2010 9:29 pm
 

Jackson acknowledges Kobe had knee drained

LOS ANGELES -- Lakers coach Phil Jackson admitted Monday night that Kobe Bryant recently had his ailing right knee drained, saying the procedure is "not unusual" -- but that it's unusual for Bryant.

"I can't remember how many times I've ever heard him having it done before," Jackson said before Game 1 of the Western Conference finals against the Suns. "Maybe one or two."

The Los Angeles Times reported Sunday that Bryant recently had a "significant" amount of fluid drained from the swollen knee and that he hasn't practice since the Lakers eliminated the Utah Jazz a week ago. Asked if it was a bad omen for the Lakers, Jackson said, "It happened some time ago, so it's kind of old news."

The knee has bothered Bryant consistently throughout the postseason, but he nonetheless has averaged 26.9 points and 38.5 minutes per game in the playoffs.



Category: NBA
Posted on: April 27, 2010 4:49 pm
 

Lakers need more than Kobe

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. – If you ask Phil Jackson – and we did – nothing has changed for the Lakers as they face a must-win Game 5 Tuesday night against a team that has run them ragged and put the defending champs in a precarious 2-2 tie in their first-round series. 

“Same old basketball team,” Jackson said on the Lakers’ practice court Tuesday. “Same old group of guys.” 

Well, not really. The last guy on the court shooting jumpers, Ron Artest, had notably shaved his head. No more Dennis Rodman lookalike routine. 

“Just a new look,” said the Lakers’ defensive specialist, who along with his teammates needed a change of scenery – among other things – after going oh-for-Oklahoma City. 

The Lakers are facing the same situation – tied 2-2, with Game 5 at home – that was in front of them when they eventually beat the Rockets and Nuggets on their way to the Finals a year ago. But with Kobe Bryant’s sore knee, arthritic finger, and assorted other ailments – not to mention the Thunder’s speed and fast-breaking dominance in the past two games – there’s a sense that the Lakers are in more trouble now than they were in either of those aforementioned series. 

“I think you just have to go with what’s here,” Jackson said, downplaying the notion that anything useful can be drawn from those experiences. “The guys that have been here know that they can do it and they know what it’s like and what it takes. … It’s a veteran team that knows how to play in the playoffs.” 

Not in the past two games, it hasn’t. 

Defensively, the Lakers haven’t been able to slow down Russell Westbrook, who has consistently gotten the Lakers out of sorts with dribble-penetration. Offensively, the Lakers are settling for too many jump shots, failing to take advantage of the prominent size advantage owned by Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum and Lamar Odom. Bad, long shots lead to long rebounds, which have only accelerated the Thunder’s fast-breaking tendencies. Oklahoma City owned a 47-9 advantage in fastbreak points in Games 3 and 4. 

Jackson has been preaching better shot selection, more persistent inside play, and better floor balance as the elixirs for slowing Westbrook’s thundering herd. After shootaround Tuesday, he revealed two more factors that he believes will be crucial in keeping this series from slipping away. 

It went like this: I asked Jackson, “You wouldn’t consider any lineup or rotation changes at this point, would you?” And he replied, “Yes, I would.” 

Such as? 

“Try and get Lamar involved,” Jackson said. “He’s got to get involved in the game. If he plays well, we usually play well.” 

Jackson said he’s not contemplating any changes to the starting lineup for Game 5. But he would like to see some changes from Artest besides a haircut. 

Though Artest has done a good job holding Kevin Durant to 38 percent shooting in the series, his own poor shot selection and inability to take advantage of his post-up advantage against Durant on the other end of the floor has been one of many trouble spots for L.A. Though Durant would be no match for Artest in the post, Artest has hoisted 23 attempts from 3-point range in the series, making only three. 

“He does have real post-up skills,” Jackson said. “He’s got to get inside instead of standing on the outside. The post is a real free-for-all situation on our team. He’s gone in there a couple of times and has chosen not to stay in there. The last game we posted him up a couple of times in the second half to start with just to get him back in there.” 

And Kobe? Jackson wouldn’t say whether he expected a more aggressive approach from Bryant in Game 5. That sort of goes without saying after Bryant managed only 12 points on 10 shots in Game 4. But only to a point, if the Lakers know what is good for them. 

There are those who think everything the Lakers do has to be about Bryant all the time. Not in this case; it’s too early in the postseason for Bryant to carry the load by himself. 

There’s no question Bryant will be more aggressive, and will be more of a factor than he was in Game 4. But if the rest of the Lakers stand around and wait for him to take them to Oklahoma City up 3-2, they will be in very real danger of losing this game – and thus, the series. Instead of Kobe shooting all night, what the Lakers need is more assertiveness from Odom, more dominance from Gasol and Bynum, and smarter play from Artest – and yes, that includes backing the rail-thin Durant into the paint and beating him up. Artest needs to recognize that such a strategy would make his job of defending him on the other end infinitely easier. 

If the Lakers don’t do these things Tuesday night, they could be spending a long, miserable summer beating themselves up. 

For what it’s worth, I asked Artest what needed to change for the Lakers to regain control of this series. Take his response with a grain of salt, because one of the beauties of Artest is that he talks first and thinks later. But the words that followed my question shouldn’t exactly inspire confidence for Lakers fans. 

“Play the same way,” he said. 

Which is exactly what the Lakers can’t afford to do.
Posted on: April 25, 2010 1:36 am
 

Next step for Thunder: Win in L.A.


When the Thunder blew out the Lakers in a meaningless regular season game in March, it was easy to chalk it up to your garden variety Laker boredom and malaise. The indignity of the defending champs losing by 16 points to the youngest team in the NBA, and the team with the lowest effective payroll, surely was an aberration -- something that certainly wouldn't be replicated in the playoffs.

As it turns out, it wasn't. What happened to the Lakers Saturday night at the raucous Ford Center was worse.

Much worse.

A 110-89 loss to the Thunder in Game 4 of their first-round series should send the Lakers back to L.A. with more than a 2-2 series on their hands. It should send them back with some doubts.

Yes, we've seen this from the Lakers before. They toyed around with the Rockets and needed seven games to beat them last postseason -- a team they should've beaten in five. But remember, that wasn't the first round, where L.A. strolled past the Jazz in five games. If you've got designs on playing deep into June and cradling the championship trophy when it's over, you don't want to be pushed to the limit in the first round.

This is also different than the Houston series in that the Lakers were never outmatched by the Rockets; they merely were bored with them and didn't beat them fast enough. After two convincing wins on their home floor, the Thunder are starting to look like a bad matchup for L.A. -- much the way the Hawks were a tough matchup for the Celtics when Boston needed seven games to get past Atlanta in the first round two years ago. The Celtics, of course, went on to win the title.

"We have a team that's playing extremely well right now that we have to deal with," said Kobe Bryant, who was in facilitator mode again and had only 12 points -- his lowest output in a playoff game since the 2004 NBA Finals. "It's not something that we lost swagger. They defended their home court, and now it's our turn."

And that is the question: Are the Thunder good enough and mentally tough enough to take the next step and win a game in Staples Center?

Bryant, who didn't score a point until the second quarter Saturday night, doesn't seem concerned. The Lakers have been here before. The Thunder have not.

"We didn't need this for this team to get our attention," Bryant said. "They have our attention. They just beat us. ... We wanted to win both of these games and be done with it. It's not the reality of the situation. We've got a tough fight and it should be fun."

As nonplused as Bryant was with the developments, Kevin Durant must've been reading from the same playbook. Asked in the sideline interview why he didn't seem overly impressed with the Thunder's handiwork, Durant said, "It's a seven-game series."

It is; a series that the Lakers remain the overwhelming favorites to win.

But as much as we must take into consideration the Lakers' experience, their home-court advantage, and Bryant's ruthlessness, we also have to acknowledge that the Thunder have been ahead of schedule before. They won 23 games a year ago and weren't supposed to blossom into a playoff team until next season. Yet they're here. They won't get to the free-throw line 48 times in Game 5 -- a 20-attempt advantage over the passive Lakers. But some of their advantages -- speed, quickness, and rebounding -- translate to winning on the road. So does Russell Westbrook, who is shooting 55 percent and averaging 21.8 points per game in the first four games of the series with a grand total of six turnovers. Durant is the superstar, but the Lakers' problems begin and end with Westbrook.

Do I think the Thunder can stun the Lakers at Staples and turn this series into a potential knockout blow to the defending champs? No, not really. But they've shown me enough so I won't be surprised if they do.

"We said at the beginning of the series that this wasn't going to be easy," Bryant said. "This is going to be a long series. It's going to be a dogfight."

Already is.

 

Posted on: April 23, 2010 10:03 am
 

Durant steps up to Kobe challenge

When I spent a few minutes after shoot-around last month with NBA coach of the year Scott Brooks – hours before his upstart Thunder would blow out the Lakers in Oklahoma City – Brooks showered appropriate helpings of praise on his franchise player, Kevin Durant. One statement, however, had me walking off the Thunder’s practice court scratching my head. 

“He wants the challenge of guarding the best players on the teams that we play,” Brooks was saying that day. “I haven’t given him a lot of opportunities there. But he’s always tapping me on my shoulder: ‘I want this guy, I want that guy.’ He’s as good of a defender we have.” 

As good a defender as we have? The same player whose defense was a well-publicized liability for an Oklahoma City team that won 23 games the year before? 

Easy for Brooks to say, was my reaction. Another matter entirely to put those words into action. 

On Thursday night, with his team facing a 3-0 deficit at home against the defending champs, Brooks put his confidence where his mouth was. He didn’t just give Durant an opportunity; he gave him the opportunity. He put Durant on the ultimate closer, the most feared player in the league with the ball in his hands in the fourth quarter or overtime. And Durant responded, using his length and vastly improved confidence on the defensive end to hold Bryant to 2-for-10 shooting in the fourth quarter of Oklahoma City’s 101-96 victory. 

“He wanted to guard Kobe. I wanted him to guard Kobe,” Brooks said at the interview podium afterward. “It was a group effort on that decision.” 

Typically, defending Bryant in the fourth quarter of a playoff game is a group effort. Brooks, showing the instincts that garnered him coach-of-the-year honors earlier in the day, knew it was Durant’s time. • It was a bold move, one that paid off in a game the Thunder badly needed if they hoped to make this first-round series more than a mere stepping stone in the Lakers’ bid to repeat as champions. 

Did Brooks find a secret weapon, one that will give his team a chance to hold serve at home and put the pressure squarely on the Lakers when the series returns to L.A. for Game 5 on Tuesday? Well, it’s no secret anymore. Bryant, already chafed by the second-fiddle status he’s been assigned by the pundits who inexplicably view the 21-year-old Durant as his equal, will simply view this as another challenge to his alpha male status. 

Bryant’s predictable response to falling short in the fourth against Durant notwithstanding, Brooks deserves all the credit he’s received for molding his superstar into more than a one-dimensional scorer. 

“He has all the physical tools, but he had to get stronger and he did get stronger over the summer,” Brooks said. “But mentally, he just had to make sure that he was ready to take that challenge every night. It’s hard to be a two-way player. We demand a lot out of him and we need a lot out of him on the offensive end, and he’s becoming a better playmaker there. But we need him to be the defender that he has become, and it still has to get better. 

“When you’re that gifted as a player, there’s not a lot of focus on the defensive end as a young player,” Brooks said. “But he’s committed. You can’t have a player on your team who’s not committed on the defensive end if your philosophy is about defense.” 

When Durant’s shots weren’t falling Thursday night, he did what great players do – he found ways to exert his influence in other areas. He had 19 rebounds to go with his 29 points, then took the biggest challenge any defender can accepts in the playoffs. 

“A lot of guys underestimate my strength,” Durant said. “If you watch the games, I get to the free-throw line, I play in the post, I get guys on my hip and back them down. So it’s not like I’m getting pushed around all the time. I go down there and try to get rebounds, so I try to mix it up down low. A lot of people don’t notice that; I guess because from the outside looking in, I’m a skinny guy. I just try my hardest to go down there and play with the big guys.” 

He played with the biggest of them all Thursday night and came out on top. It was only one step for the Next Great Player. How big? We'll find out.
Posted on: April 2, 2010 4:58 pm
Edited on: April 2, 2010 5:53 pm
 

No Kobe in 2010

Forget about Kobe Bryant joining the 2010 free-agent frenzy. The three-year, maximum extension he finally agreed to Friday with the Lakers put an end to that.

Instead of exercising his early termination option after the season, Bryant is signing up to finish his career in a Lakers uniform. With a $24.8 million salary next year, Bryant is eligible to make $27.4 million in 2011-12, $30 million in '12-'13 and $32.6 million in the final year of the extension.

This is splendid news -- and not only for Bryant and agent Rob Pelinka, who will get a nice chunk of that $90 million as a commission. It's splendid because it promises four more years of Lakers drama -- the annual questions about whether Phil Jackson will be back to win one more title, and what Kobe will do/think/say if Phil ever does decide to ride off into the sunset with Jeanie Buss and never look back.

It's also splendid because it may offer a glimpse into the decision LeBron James will have before him three months from now. Granted, they are at very different stages of their careers. But if Bryant just laid down the blueprint for LeBron -- hey, if they've given you everything you want, you might as well stay -- then there will be a handful of extremely disappointed general managers standing around with cap space and nothing to spend it on come July 1.

Bryant's extension offer has been on the table since July, when he decided not to exercise the first of two straight termination clauses. It was widely believed that he would follow that good-will gesture by quickly signing an extension, but it took months to finalize.

In addition to eliminating Bryant from a free-agent class that is expected to include James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and others, his decision to commit to three more years with the Lakers suggests that Bryant believes Jackson will be back for at least one more year as coach. Jackson, 64, told NBA.com last week that he expects to be back, barring any surprises in his annual post-season physical. Jackson later backtracked, saying he wasn't leaning one way or the other. Bryant, it would appear, believes otherwise. 

Bryant's decision will come as a surprise to several GMs I've spoken with recently who are in the planning stages for this summer's free-agent signing period. They had begun to expect Bryant to make himself available to the highest bidder -- that Bryant was the free agent everyone kept forgetting about. It was never assumed that Bryant wanted to leave L.A., but rather that uncertainty over Jackson's future might compel him to keep his options open.

With four titles and another one possible this June, what better options could there have been? Apparently, according to Kobe, none.

The last time I saw Bryant, he was walking toward the loading dock at the Ford Center in Oklahoma City, sunglasses on and head hanging after a particularly humiliating loss to the Thunder. Minutes earlier, Bryant had gotten more of the rubbish he gets in every NBA city -- more of these comparisons to players who haven't won anything yet. It would stand to reason that Bryant put the LeBron comparisons to rest last June, when he hoisted his fourth championship trophy, and first without Shaq. James hasn't won any yet, and Bryant is within two of tying Michael Jordan, and yet all anyone can talk about is LeBron, LeBron, LeBron.

Bryant can take that; there is no denying James' talent and no telling how many titles he'll ultimately win if he puts himself in the right situation, starting this summer. But now Bryant supposedly has been passed in the NBA hierarchy by Kevin Durant, according to the great basketball publication Rolling Stone

"Whoever said that is a little bit over their head with that one," Jackson said.

Asked that night in Oklahoma City if he "got caught up" in the head-to-head matchup with Durant, Bryant smiled and said, "That's a silly question." With nine turnovers in the loss, Bryant also was asked if the player defending him -- Thabo Sefolosha -- had become one of the better defenders in the league.

"Sure," Bryant said, with about $90 million worth of sarcasm.

Bryant could have joined the new generation chasing him in the chase for dollars this summer. On Friday, the best player of his generation decided to sit that one out. Let's compare the resumes in four years and see if he was right.

 
Posted on: March 27, 2010 12:18 am
Edited on: March 27, 2010 12:21 am
 

Speed kills the Lakers again

OKLAHOMA CITY – With a signature win for a franchise on the rise, the Oklahoma City Thunder forced the defending champs to look into the future and cringe. 

The Lakers won’t know for a couple more weeks who they’ll be facing in the first round when they begin their title defense. If it’s the Thunder, who ran them out of the gym Friday night in a 91-75 rout, things could get a little uncomfortable. 

“It’s disappointing we didn’t respond to the challenge,” said Kobe Bryant, who had 11 points and nine turnovers before sitting the entire fourth quarter with fellow starters Lamar Odom, Pau Gasol and Derek Fisher. “That being said, when the playoffs start, it’s a different situation.” 

Probably so. But the Lakers were reminded Friday night of a weakness that was exposed in the conference semifinals last spring against the Rockets: Quick teams and quick guards cause them problems. 

A year ago, Ron Artest was playing for the Rockets and Aaron Brooks was forcing Lakers coach Phil Jackson to protect Derek Fisher in that matchup by putting quicker guards Shannon Brown and Jordan Farmar on Brooks for long stretches. 

“The death knell was ringing for us last year in the Houston series when Brooks was lighting us up, and we actually had to make a change a little bit in our rotation,” Jackson said. “In fact, Derek helped us out by getting suspended a game, otherwise I would’ve stuck with him. But we started playing a little different, with speed on speed in that situation. Before you know it, Fish is right back in the lineup and contributing the rest of the playoffs, and I anticipate that’s going to be his role.” 

But on Friday night, it was Russell Westbrook playing the role of Aaron Brooks, and Jackson was never able to find an answer for his speed. Westbrook had 23 points and six assists on 10-for-13 shooting with only two turnovers – despite leaving the court briefly in the second quarter with what appeared to be a badly turned ankle that caused him to miss only three minutes. 

“I tried everybody but Sasha [Vujacic] in the backcourt on him,” Jackson said. “We tried to match him and see what we could get done. And he got in a zone there in that lane, and that’s his strength.” 

Kevin Durant, who had 28 points, called Westbrook “one of the toughest players I have ever played with. … He won the game for us. He was incredible.” Oklahoma City snapped a 12-game losing streak against the Lakers -- a streak that dates to the franchise's final days in Seattle.

These are problems the Lakers could very well have to contend with again in a month or so. The Thunder (44-27), currently in the sixth playoff spot, are only 1 1-2 games ahead of eighth-place Portland. San Antonio and Phoenix are in that mix, too. But until now, the Thunder were the biggest unknown – a team the Lakers hadn’t played since November, when L.A. handled them easily. 

This time, Oklahoma City built as much as a 33-point lead against a Lakers team that offered little resistance. What was billed as a marquee matchup of Kobe vs. Durant wound up being a layup drill with D.J. Mbenga getting posterized by Jeff Green and Durant on consecutive trips in the fourth quarter. 

“We know what San Antonio is; we know what they’re going to come out and do,” Jackson said. “We sort of have a dance that we do between us. This team is a young team with a lot energy, somebody we’re not aware of – we haven’t seen them in four months – and those things change up how you play.” 

Pau Gasol took issue with Jackson’s assessment that he played soft, but didn’t have much more to say. He discouraged the traveling analysts from reading too much into this one. 

“You don’t want to search too deeply into it,” Gasol said. “There’s nothing to search for.” 

Nor was Bryant in an inquisitive mood. Asked by a nemesis in the L.A. media if he got caught up in the competitive challenge of playing against Durant, Bryant shot him a puzzled look and said, “That’s a silly question.” 

Earlier, he was asked the same questions he’s asked every time the Lakers serve up a clunker like this: Do you have a feel for your team? Do you know what you have? 

“I will when the playoffs come around,” he said.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com