L.A.-Phoenix Game Notes
The L.A.-Phoenix game this afternoon had serious playoff position implications. Not only are both teams in the midst of a seeding fight, there’s a good chance the teams will face each other in the first round.
The Smush Situation
In the wake of his playing time tiff with Coach Jackson, Smush Parker came out firing against Phoenix this afternoon. After saying he “gave up trying to read that man a long time ago,” Jackson had a meeting with Parker in which in no uncertain terms he let it be known that his point guard needs an attitude adjustment if he wants a job recommendation this summer. Playing with a chip on his shoulder and plenty to prove, Parker scored a game high 17 points in the first half. Nevertheless, his demeanor hadn’t changed much. While I usually take a skeptical approach to the ‘bad attitude’ rap, Jackson might have a point After a time-out was called in the second quarter Parker proceeded to shoot around rather than head to the bench with the rest of the team, confirming for spectators Jackson’s comments that he’s “aloof” and “isolationist.”
Although Parker scored well in the first half, his defensive intensity left much to be desired. At times he was downright lackadaisical; at others he lazily funneled Nash and Barbosa to the basket as if he was expecting help (from whom I don’t know) but wound up allowing easy baskets. He didn’t fight over screens. He made weak efforts to put a hand in Nash’s face…
After a shaky third quarter and starting on the bench in the fourth, Michele Tafoya reported that Parker was visibly removed from the team huddle. When Phil put him back in the game early in the fourth he hit one shot but was otherwise ineffective.
Parker seems to know he’s on his way out and the Jordan Farmar is the future point guard of this Laker team, but rather than endear himself to other teams he’s playing himself out of the league. It’s unfortunate when you consider Parker’s offensive gifts and the wealth of experience he’s gained playing for Phil and alongside Kobe.
Kobe v. Bell
The Kobe-Raja Bell match-up is beginning to turn into a marquee rivalry if for no other reason than that they both refuse to back down. Unlike the rivalry brewing between Kobe and Lebron which is ultimately a scoring bonanza at best and a media creation at worst, this one actually makes for good basketball on the court. Bryant went straight to the post early in the game, muscling his way for a couple of tough buckets before Bell was able to draw a charge on Bryant. The acrimony between them last year seems to have given way to mutual respect and competitiveness.
Dancing With the Stars
Clyde Drexler and his Dancing With the Stars partner were interviewed during the first half of the game. Clearly Disney, ABC and ESPN’s parent company, has decided to tie the show with basketball as tightly as it can. Apparently executives at the company feel like sports fans are such sycophants that a) we will watch anything just because ex-jocks are involved and b) we have nothing better to do than watch our former heroes ballroom dance. Even Sportscenter has been in on this ruse of late. Last week they ran a segment on Dancing that caused me to turn the channel. While I admire Clyde’s courage, the clips I’ve seen are just embarrassing. He has the mobility of George Muerheson on the dance floor. Does he honestly have nothing better to do with his time? Does he miss the limelight that much? Ugh..
Am I the only one who thinks Mark Jackson is a decent analyst? Honestly, he ain’t bad. Good energy. Decent wordplay. Extensive knowledge. Unlike Tom Tolbert, Jackson had a respectable enough career to give his opinions some validity. And unlike Bill Walton (see J Weiler’s piece for more) he seems to actually believe what he says sometimes. Fyi: Jackson actually far more entertaining beside Ian Eagle and Marv Albert on the YES Network where he does Nets games.