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..

Action Jackson

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.

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5 Responses to “L.A.-Phoenix Game Notes”

  1. You’re not alone. I like Mark Jackson as an analyst; subdued and knowledgeable is a good change-up. I think he needs another play-by-play partner. Not that Mike Breen is bad, they just are too low-key together. I imagine Jackson is much better teamed up with Ian and Marv, whom are both intense play-by-play guys.

    I’m glad I missed the Clyde interview. ESPN/ABC is doing the same thing to the NBA that they did to MNF — throw in every cheap commercial cliche possible and interview people in the middle of the game rather than focus on the floor.

    Smush Parker is wasting his talent, and he’s got some, but he just doesn’t try enough, either because he knows he’s on his way out or because he doesn’t think he has to. I’m not sure what it is.

  2. stopmikelupica Says:

    I like Mark Jackson as an analyst, too. He does a great job on the Nets telecasts, working with Marv Albert (yeah, the Nets have the best duo in the NBA).

    Smush Parker is not wasting his “talent”; he has none, or at least not enough to be a starter in the NBA. What he’s wasting is his opportunity. Without Phil Jackson and the Lakers’ sorry roster, he would not even be in the NBA. I like Smush (he went to school at Fordham), but even he has to be aware that his presence in the NBA is a gift, not a right of his skills. Smush, regardless of how pissed he might be at the situation, has to keep his head on. He can’t f*ck this up, or he’ll be lucky to be a backup point in the NBA next season….

  3. Generally, I like Jackson as he seems to respect NBA players as professionals who take pride in what they do. But yesterday, he kept saying that Bell did a good job on Kobe and that’s simply not true. Kobe was able to, at will, elevate above Bell, square his shoulders and get a good look at the basket. He did a slightly above job of denying him the ball but overall, didn’t really provide much challenge to Kobe. Kobe’s relative low oint output was far more related to the Lakers flawed game plan. Kobe was 14-25. He takes 40 shots and the Lakers win that ball game.

  4. Good point Kev. Kobe was abusing Bell, but you have to like the way Bell makes him work for every bucket. As for the 40 shots— I think it’s safe to say Kobe has to carry this team however he can

  5. HNIC,

    I’ll forever hate Raja for his petulant attempt at decapitation on Kobe in last May’s playoffs, and as much as I like Nash and Amare, nothing, not even beating that phony flopper D-Whistle in the finals, would give me the same thrill as beating Bell in the playoffs.

    That being said, and fully realizing his relative ineffectiveness against Kobe yesterday, it is true that at least Bell did make Kobe work for his good looks. Kbe got good looks all game long, but Bell didn’t back down, and as you correctly point out, you’ve got to respect that.

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