Roundtable: Are Lakers focused?
The Lakers had no reason to be bored with the opponent after the third quarter of Game 1, the first of what became a series of Jazz comebacks to turn one-time blowouts into tense victories. That second half should have been the alarm clock going off in their ear. It wasn't. There should be a concern. Still.
If they have a healthy Duncan, Parker and Ginobili, they're in championship contention. Too smart, too experienced, too good on defense, three weapons who can turn a series with offense. They won't be the team to beat in the West next season, but if Ginobili is healthy, and I've already stated that's not a given in the wake of two serious ankle injuries, San Antonio remains a factor.
Every team has issues that need addressing. I'll give the benefit of the doubt to the organization that knows how to solve problems and the roster of winners. You know, the one where the old guy, Duncan, just logged 19.3 points and 10.7 rebounds in the regular season. Some breaking down.
There are two ways to influence the game. The first is to play with relentless and resolute defensive toughness from the opening whistle, like the Celtics did last season. They didn't get calls because Perkins says they should; they got calls because they set a consistently aggressive tone from the outset.
And, second, subtle complaints from veterans can work, too. Refs don't like players and coaches who show them up during games. They remember that. Better to take the approach of Phil Jackson, who's not an inveterate griper between the lines, but always finds some way to get his point across after or between games. And one word from a quiet and respected professional like Ray Allen would go a lot further than a bunch of words from Perkins.
This has become such a tired topic. It was a tired topic when Jackson and Pat Riley were spinning the media in the days of Bulls-Knicks playoffs -- egos at 40 paces. Jackson is a master, then and now. His comments can stir emotions among fans and players, both of which are good things, but if you're dismissing a lot of what he says, don't you think the refs are as well?
They know what Jackson is doing. They know what DiLeo is doing. They know players speak from emotion and, as the question noted, never waste the opportunity to find a good scapegoat. Referees make good calls, referees make bad calls. None of them are because of anything Perkins says.
I'm not saying patronizing is going to automatically earn you a freebie the next time. But no player, past or present, will tell you antagonizing officials is a sound strategy.