05/03/2011 - 12:34
Lakers Can't Take Care of Business
Derek Fisher's faith in the Los Angeles Lakers will never waver.
He's been through it all with his team too many times to let a single loss get to him.
Speaking with Stephen A. Smith of ESPN Radio before Game 1 of the Western Conference Semifinals, Derek said he considers LA the team to beat and will until they are beaten.
"I'm always going to say that we're the best team in basketball, not just because of what we accomplished in the past, but who we are right now," he said. "People obviously have strong opinions about the way we play or sometimes how it looks. … But we know how to win. We've won two championships, we've been to the Finals three years in a row and we're confident in our ability to deal with these circumstances."
Despite grabbing a 16-point lead in the third quarter on Monday night and appearing ready to pull away, the Lakers were beaten in Game 1, succumbing to a late Mavericks rally in a 96-94 loss.
D-Fish gave the Lakers a solid effort in their Game 1 loss to Dallas (Getty Images).
But it wasn't through lack of effort from D-Fish, who scored eight points on 50 percent shooting, his fifth straight postseason game of better than 50 percent from the floor. To go alongside his scoring, No. 2 recorded six assists, a high for him this young postseason. More importantly, Fish didn't record a single turnover. His counterpart on the court, Dallas' Jason Kidd, threw out five TOs. So though the game went Dallas' way, Fish controlled the point guard play.
He kicked off the game with assists on two of the Lakers' first four possessions, finding Kobe Bryant outside and Pau Gasol inside to give Los Angeles an early lead. Then, No. 2 sank a bomb of a three, rounding out a strong first quarter. In the second, Fish looked fresh, driving to the basket on two separate occasions. The first time he got to the bucket, layed the ball up and got fouled as it fell. The three-point play gave LA a 44-42 lead.
Moments later, with the Lakers still in the midst of the same run, Derek burned the defense again, taking an uncovered path to the basket for another finger-roll finish. The bucket capped a 10-0 Lakers run as the champs took a seven-point lead late in the first half. No. 2 finished the quarter with five points and an assist as Los Angeles went into the locker room up by nine.
Fish's final three assists of the night all came in the third, with the guard finding Kobe for the second and third time, and also hitting Andrew Bynum for a basket. But the Mavs chipped away at Los Angeles' lead down the stretch and when a Bryant three missed as time expired, the Lakers found themselves in a 1-0 hole.
Though no one in particular was to blame, Derek told Smith before the series that playoff play is about taking care of business, which the Lakers did not do on Monday night.
"Regardless of what team you play, in this case the Mavericks, in order to handle your business, you have to step through and deal with the teams that you're facing," he said. "Right now we're facing the Mavericks. Obviously Dirk Nowitzki is where everything starts and ends with them, but it's also the contributions of guys like Tyson Chandler and Jason Terry and Jason Kidd … and getting contributions from all their guys."
Smith also asked Fish if the veteran Lakers were feeling some fatigue after their six-game series with a young and hungry Hornets team. No. 2 conceded that, yes, the Lakers are getting older. But that's only natural.
"I think Father Time is knocking at everybody's door," he said. "Every team in professional sports has to deal with the realities and demands of every season. For us, this is our fourth consecutive run at possibly winning the championship and having a chance to win three consecutive championships. That takes a toll. So there's no question that we've been impacted by the run that we've been on."
However, Derek said, the most important thing one can do as a professional athlete is not let that bother them:
"At the same time, that has no real impact on the ability to perform and perform at a high level when you get out there on the court. … It's about execution, it's about poise, it's about experience, it's about understanding time and situations."
Los Angeles will need another strong game from Derek to even the series. Game 2 tips off at 7:30 PT Wednesday night on TNT.
- "I'm Always Going To Say That We're the Best Team in Basketball" (Sports Radio Interviews, May 2, 2011)
- Teammates, Phil fail Kobe in Game 1 (OC Register, May 3, 2011)
- Game 1 loss to Dallas Mavericks points to inconsistent execution (LA Times, May 3, 2011)
- Mavericks rally to defeat the Lakers, 96-94 (LA Times, May 2, 2011)
Bookmark/Search this post with: