- Dave McMenamin, ESPN.com
- 0 Shares
LOS ANGELES -- After the Los Angeles Lakers lost to the Utah Jazz on Friday in a game where Ron Artest attempted two shots with less than a minute remaining with his team down by two, Lakers head coach Phil Jackson made sure to talk to his mercurial forward about his shot selection.
"I couldn't allow that to go by without a word or two," Jackson said.
Well, the coach had some more words for Artest after the Lakers 95-92 loss to the Indiana Pacers on Sunday.
Artest grabbed an offensive rebound off of an errant Kobe Bryant shot with 8.6 seconds remaining in the fourth and the Lakers down by three. He then passed it back out to the perimeter where Bryant had another miss on a last-second three. As Jackson and Artest made their way off the court following the final buzzer, the coach approached his player.
"There were a couple situations I talked to him after the game, between he and I," Jackson said.
Artest said "I don't recall the conversation," when first asked about the chat but later revealed details about the discussion when pressed further.
"He told me I should have called a timeout when I got the offensive rebound but it was hard to think about that when Kobe wanted the ball and Kobe was going to hit the 3," Artest said. "When I saw Kobe I was going to give it to him. I asked [Jackson], 'Could everybody else on the court call the timeout since I have the ball, can somebody else call the timeout?' He said, 'Yes,' so he forgot to address it with everybody, so it's OK."
Artest scored just three points Sunday on 1-of-4 shooting. It was the sixth time in the last seven games that he finished with a single-digit scoring output. The 12-year veteran is averaging a career-low 8.5 points per game this season as well as a career-low 27.1 minutes per game.
"I thought he did a good job on [Danny] Granger tonight and when he came out of the game I was substituting Matt [Barnes] in there and Matt got some things going for us in the first half so he ran a little bit longer," Jackson said about Artest's 26 minutes and 32 seconds worth of playing time. "That might have been the difference."
Granger, an All-Star who came into the game averaging 22.0 points, finished with 18 points on 7-for-16 shooting. Jackson did not care to comment on Artest's lack of offense.
"I'm not going to harbor on that," Jackson said. "I thought he worked on the defensive end, got some steals and we got the ball back a couple times from his activity."
Artest seemed more amused than angry after the game, accepting his subjugated role as long as the Lakers continue to win.
"I feel good," Artest said. "Personally, I feel great. I can feel great and be on an island fishing. You can feel great about yourself, right? But if you're on an island fishing, you're not utilizing your game.
"Last year, as you know, I had a lot of ups and downs but one thing that always stands firm is it's a team game. No matter how good I feel, I don't mind feeling uncomfortable for the win. Sometimes I can't show or I can't do things that I would like to do, that any kid would like to do, but that's not important. What's important is we find a way to win."
Artest pointed to the success he had in last season's playoffs as evidence that he can still be the player that scored 20 points in Game 7 of the Finals against Boston when needed, even without Jackson encouraging his offense.
"There was times when you all saw coach in the game tell everybody not to pass Ron Artest the ball, everybody seen that, but I can't get mad about that because that's what he feels," Artest said. "So I listen and I take in the good and I take in what can help me, but I also got to be like, 'I made it this far for a reason so how do I not be selfish, but at the same time listen?'"
The one shot that Artest made on Sunday was an improvised step-back 3-pointer that was out of the flow of the triangle offense. Still, the shot cut the Pacers six-point lead down to just three with 2:43 remaining in the game.
"I'm sure [Jackson] didn't want me to take that last 3 tonight," Artest said. "It's all about just playing and trying to find a way."
Artest suggested his low points-per-game average was skewed by how many blowouts the Lakers have had during their 13-4 start to the season when his nights would end early and the team would clear the bench.
"I never play in the fourth quarter," Artest said. "So, it's hard to judge really what I'm doing."
Artest kept the focus of his comments on the team.
"I don't care about my comfort level, honestly," Artest said. "I'm ready. It's not about me being comfortable. It's not about my comfort ... Whether I'm in the game or out the game, the L.A. Lakers are going to find a way to win and that's what's important.
"Of course I want the ball ... but that's not how we're made up. So, what do I do? I go out and I play and we play hard and we win and that's it. What do I do when I have to step it up? You saw when the games mattered last year, people saw what I have to do."
Dave McMenamin covers the Lakers for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Follow him on Twitter.
5hMichael C. Wright