Reporting from Chicago
About five minutes after a disappointing 88-84 loss to the Chicago Bulls on Friday night, forward Ron Artest made a quick exit from the Lakers' locker room.
Artest was the first Laker who played in the game to leave.
Artest had played yet another uneventful game this season for the Lakers, and now he was strolling down the United Center hallway, stopping for a few seconds to speak with well-wishers.
Artest had missed five of his six shots and had scored only two points.
He did have two blocked shots and two steals, but he played just 27 minutes 21 seconds and wasn't much of a factor.
"I'm good," Artest said. "I played well."
Artest continued to walk down the hallway, waving at people, talking as he walked, asking the reporter to keep walking with him.
He eventually stopped when he got to the team's bus and leaned against a wall.
For the fifth consecutive game, Artest didn't score in double figures. He has scored in double figures in only eight of the 23 games.
Now Artest was being asked to explain a quote in which he told an ESPN reporter that he still didn't understand the triangle offense after playing for the Lakers about 1¼ years and that he just stays in the corner.
"We were just joking," Artest repeated twice. "I told him that?"
Indeed, Artest was told exactly what he said.
"See, I can't really understand the triangle [offense]," Artest told ESPN. "There's 1,000 plays in the triangle. It's such a challenge. I get so frustrated about it. . . . So I just stay in my one spot in the corner. If I leave my spot, I get yelled at. [Lakers Coach] Phil [Jackson's] gonna say, 'What are you doing over there!' So I just don't move."
Artest nodded his head when told of his comments.
"Was it on video?" Artest then asked. "How was the question asked? We were probably joking."
So, Artest was asked, does he know the offense?
"Yeah," Artest said. "Sure. I'm good."
Artest was asked if he still is trying to find his way in the offense.
"It depends on what 'find a way' means," he said.
Is he OK with his touches and the shots he's getting in the offense?
"It depends on how you view me," Artest said. "I know the fans want stats. Everybody has different views. Their views are, 'Why aren't you doing this?' So, what's their standard like? But just because the fans have high standards, doesn't mean it fits in. They are not the head coach. Just because they have high standards for me doesn't mean it's going to come across on stats."
True to form, Artest didn't do much moving in the offense against the Bulls.
And yes, Jackson did have something to say about Artest's play against the Bulls.
"All he did was clog the post tonight," Jackson said. "He was just throwing people around."
Artest is averaging 7.8 points this season.
He's not taking many shots.
He looks lost at times in the offense.
"If it was my video game, yeah, I'm taking every shot," Artest said. "But it's not a video game. It depends on what people expect. Are my minutes down this season?"
Yes, Artest was told, his minutes are down this season.
He's averaging 27.5 minutes a game, down from the 33.8 minutes he averaged last season.
"I don't be analyzing it, you know what I mean?" Artest said. "I don't be analyzing, analyzing, analyzing."