05/03/2010 - 11:37
Fish, Lakers Win the Weekend
What a difference a weekend makes.
On Friday morning, the Lakers were in Oklahoma City, preparing to face a Thunder team that had run them out of the gym in their previous trip it OKC.
But by Sunday night, Derek Fisher and the Lakers had dispatched the Thunder and were up 1-0 on the Utah Jazz, a stat that portends well since Lakers coach Phil Jackson has never had a team lose an NBA playoff series when it won the opening game.
The Lakers won their series with Oklahoma City in six, finishing off the Thunder with a gulp-inducing 95-94 win in the Sooner state on Friday night. There wasn't much time to rest as the Jazz finished off the Denver Nuggets that same night setting up a playoff matchup between Utah and LA for the third straight season.
The turnaround was just two days and on Sunday afternoon, just as they had the previous two times, the Lakers defeated Utah in Game 1, 104-99, behind another strong night from D-Fish.
Fish played a season high 40 minutes in the victory, and he rewarded his coach with judicious shooting, going for 4-7 from the field, the fourth straight playoff game in which Derek has shot better than 50 percent. He finished with 10 points, his fifth double-digit scoring night of the postseason.
While Fish’s game was precise, complimented by three assists, three rebounds and a walloping five steals, No. 2 said he wasn’t satisfied with what he saw from the team on the whole.
"We're just not sharp for long enough," Derek told the San Bernardino Sun. "At the same time, these are the playoffs. I don't tend to get as frustrated as everybody else when we win a game in the postseason and all the complaints are about why it wasn't prettier."
What was pretty were Fish’s lightening quick reflexes, as he jumped on poor handling and bad passes by Wesley Matthews and Carlos Boozer, who gave up four of No. 2’s five steals.
Derek also had a quick start, scoring four points and dishing two assists in the game’s first quarter.
But for D-Fish and his LA brethren, it’s the crunch time play that matters most, and No. 2 sealed the deal when, after Lamar Odom put the Lakers up three, he filched the ball on the ensuing Jazz possession, which led to a Kobe Bryant basket and a 1-0 series lead.
On Friday, in the Lakers clinching win over the Oklahoma City Thunder, Fish had his own personal passing party, recording six assists.
He found three Lakers: Kobe Bryant three times, Andrew Bynum twice, and Ron Artest once on the evening. No. 2 did the worst of his damage in the third quarter, when he notched four of his assists. Fish also did most of his scoring from behind the arc, burying three triples on his way to 11 points.
After the game, Fish spoke with the Washington Post’s Michael Wilbon, about how being pushed by the Thunder pushed the Lakers. Speaking about their Game 4 blowout loss, Fish said:
"Certain losses you're not even sure what you could have done. . . . You're searching, you have to go back to the drawing board, which turned out to be really good for us."
Fish said he’s learned early that while you need to learn from losses, and let them affect you, you can not let them consume you.
"I learned my rookie year. not put any stock into it. . . . I've been through it too many times. Champions stay the course. That's what Kobe is, that's what I am, that's what [Coach] Phil Jackson is."
Falling behind happens, Derek said. But perseverance is the only thing that matters.
"We were down 0-2 to the Spurs in '04, down  points to Portland in Game 7, down to Sacramento in... 2002. There's no script for winning. You just have to win."
Fish will get his next shot to win when Game 2 between the Lakers and the Jazz rolls around on Tuesday night at the Staples Center. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. PST and the game can be seen on TNT.
L.A. blows lead late, regroups to take 1-0 series lead over Utah (San Bernardino Sun, May 2, 2010)
Upstarts bring out the best in the NBA playoffs (Washington Post, May 2, 2010)
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