Antawn Jamison goes toward the hoop defended by Alexey Shved during the… (Frederic J. Brown / Getty…)
It's been an up-and-down season for Lakers forward Antawn Jamison.
"Up and down?" scoffed Jamison after his team defeated the Minnesota Timberwolves on Thursday night 116-94.
"I'm just finally getting comfortable. We have some chemistry going on," said Jamison. "I know the amount of minutes that I'm going to be out there. I know what [Coach Mike D'Antoni] wants from me exactly, so I'm pretty much able to just play my game."
Jamison went through a stretch where D'Antoni wouldn't let him off the bench. Now, with Pau Gasol out with a foot injury, Jamison has become an integral part of the Lakers' rotation.
Over the past seven games, Jamison has averaged 15.9 points while shooting 51.9% from the field. The Lakers are 5-2 in that stretch.
Jamison credits a team meeting on Jan. 23 for turning around the Lakers' season.
"I think after the last Memphis game, as a team and as a coaching staff, we got a better understanding from one another," he said. "We all talked and the players told the coaching staff there has to be some adjustments on their end -- and the coaching staff said, 'Look, we will adjust but y'all gotta start playing the way we know you're capable of playing.'"
The Lakers have won 12 of 17 since that meeting despite Gasol's injury seven games later.
"A lot of guys just looked in the mirror and realized that in order for this to happen, we all have to do this collectively," said Jamison. "You're starting to see that."
The players told D'Antoni that they needed to slow down the pace a bit.
"Certain things we didn't think suited us best," said Jamison. "He came in like, 'I understand that - certain things that I need y'all to do more of, playing with energy, communicating defensively, things of that nature.'"
Jamison noted that he and D'Antoni have improved their communication significantly since the early, uncomfortable stretches.
"Me and him talk. It was tough at first but now we have a relationship where if I see something, I can talk to him. He has no problem coming to me," he said. "That's what I've been accustomed to."
Jamison has been a big part of the Lakers' turnaround, adding a desperately needed scoring punch off the bench.
If the Lakers can get a win at Staples Center on Sunday against the Atlanta Hawks, they'll climb back to .500. To make a true playoff push, the Lakers may have to match or even improve upon their recent 12-5 stretch of games.
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Email Eric Pincus at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @EricPincus.