Jackson: Lakers need consistent effort

Updated: April 19, 2010, 8:10 PM ET
Associated Press

LOS ANGELES -- Phil Jackson wants a better sustained effort from the Lakers against the Oklahoma City Thunder. He got it for one quarter in the playoff opener, then watched the defending champions lose energy the rest of the way.

The Lakers won 87-79 Sunday mostly on the strength of their dominating first quarter, in which 7-footers Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum scored and rebounded with abandon and the team shot 54 percent.

Although never losing the lead, the Lakers didn't win another quarter and the Thunder got within six points with 3½ minutes remaining.

"Our guys sustaining that effort is where we really have to keep working," Jackson said after practice Monday. "The big issue with us is we have to have good court balance, take good shots so that their run-out opportunities aren't available to them or they're more difficult than they've been."

A subdued Kobe Bryant said he shares Jackson's concern, although he maintains that getting the win was the most important thing.

"We'll do better," he said. "The games are prettier when you score a lot of points and stuff like that, and that's what we're capable of doing but at the end of the day, defense and rebounding wins championships."

Bryant scored 21 points on 6 of 19 shooting, but missed five of 12 free throws. He's been bothered by a swollen right knee, a broken right index finger and a sore tendon in his left ankle, all of which contributed to his missing four out of the team's final five games.

"His shot selection, he's had to narrow that down a little bit because he can't just elevate and get over people," Jackson said. "In the second half, I thought he might have tired."

Bryant spent limited minutes on the practice court Monday, although Jackson said he arrived early to work on his shooting.

"He was very subdued when he was in the training room and in the video room," the coach said. "I didn't initiate a conversation but once with him."

Lakers reserve center D.J. Mbenga will be re-evaluated on Tuesday after undergoing retinal surgery. He was hit near his left eye twice in practice last week and will have to wear protective glasses if he's cleared to play.

The Thunder will be looking for its first playoff win since moving from Seattle two years ago in Game 2 at Staples Center on Tuesday night.

"We can't let them dictate our offense for us," Jeff Green said. "We have to be more aggressive as far as getting to the rim, making them move side to side, not allowing them to set up on one side of the floor by zoning us up. It's numerous things that we can do to have a better offensive game."

The Lakers expect a better offensive effort from Kevin Durant in Game 2. The NBA's scoring champion had 24 points -- six under his average -- on 7 of 24 shooting while being hounded by Ron Artest.

"Kevin is one of the great players in this league and all great players have nights like this," Russell Westbrook said. "He's going to find his way."

Durant didn't speak with reporters before practice Monday.

The Thunder played tentatively in the early going of Game 1, not surprising for the NBA's youngest team.

"The second game, those nerves won't be there and they'll be more effective coming out of the gate," Gasol predicted.

Thunder coach Scott Brooks said his team can't defend any better than it did in the opener, but their offense must improve. Durant said he was frustrated by missing shots that had gone down for him in the regular season.

"Kevin is just going to have to keep working," Brooks said. "He's had some bad shooting nights, but what he needs to do is find other ways to help us win. He's one of our better rebounders and he needs to be able to do that better."

Jackson's teams have never lost a playoff series after winning Game 1, going 44-for-44 with Chicago and the Lakers.

"This is a very good opportunity now to give them a good psychological hit," Gasol said. "Get an even more convincing win in Game 2, then go to Oklahoma."


Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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