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Everybody but Big 2 Disappears

O'Neal and Bryant get no help from the rest of the roster. Fisher says the Pistons 'beat us to the punch.'

June 07, 2004|Jerry Crowe | Times Staff Writer

The supporting cast?

Call it unsupportive.

Shaquille O'Neal scored 34 points for the Lakers on Sunday night.

Kobe Bryant scored 25.

Everybody else scored 16.

Derek Fisher, whose miraculous buzzer-beating shot doomed the San Antonio Spurs, scored two points in 20 minutes. He missed eight of nine shots.

Kareem Rush, who made six three-point shots and scored 18 points in the Lakers' series-clinching Game 6 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves, didn't score. He missed all three of his shots, two from beyond the three-point arc.

Karl Malone and Gary Payton?

Seven points between them.

If this keeps up, they won't ever get their championship rings.

On their way to the parade, the Lakers hit a pothole. They lost to the Detroit Pistons, 87-75, in Game 1 of the NBA Finals on a night when O'Neal missed only three of 16 shots and Bryant maintained his playoff scoring average.

Nobody could blame them.

But everybody else?

"There were a number of us tonight that just could not get the things going offensively we needed to do to help our team," Fisher said. "It's a team game. A team wins together; it loses together. But there are certain nights like tonight where certain individuals just do not get it done and don't play well."

Malone missed seven of nine shots, Devean George three of five. Payton missed three of four. The Laker reserves scored four points.

"They did a good job of staying home with guys on the perimeter," Fisher said of the Pistons, who limited the Lakers to 39.7% shooting, 28.1% for anybody not named O'Neal. "For the most part, things were contested or [the Pistons] put you in a situation where maybe the shot clock was running down, or you're having to do more things off the dribble than we're accustomed to doing.

"And no matter who you are, your percentages are not going to be as good if you're doing everything off the dribble. And tonight we didn't execute well enough to provide guys with the type of shots that this offense can provide."

Not that the Lakers were surprised.

"I don't know what everybody else expected," Fisher said. "We expected them to come out and play hard. They're in the Finals, so they're going to come in and play hard and do everything they can do to win games and they did that.

"It's our responsibility as professionals to come back and play better in Game 2 and give ourselves a chance to win. It's not easy, and we didn't expect it to be. But we definitely let them beat us to the punch tonight."

Give them credit, he said.

"I think we've seen everything there is to see defensively, in terms of teams trying to pressure us and at other times trying to front Shaq, cut off Kobe's penetration," Fisher said. "We've seen enough of that.

"It's still difficult when you have to go out and play in the game and still be successful executing and doing the things you need to do on the offensive end. So you definitely have to give them credit for coming in and sticking with the things that got them here -- that's defending well."

On Sunday, they had some help.

"They only had to guard two guys," Fisher said. "The rest of us didn't play well, never got into any type of rhythm as a team."

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