When told of Lakers Coach Phil Jackson's recent comments about his beloved triangle offense, Tex Winter smiled, laughed and then acknowledged that there was some truth in the statement.
"Tex is foaming at the mouth down there in the coaches' office right now," Jackson said after a recent Lakers game. "He wanted his money back at halftime. Now he wants to make sure that we take the triangle offense out of any connection with him."
Lakers can barely banish 'Wolves from... Kevin Love’s transition to NBA stands by...Lakers' Vladimir Radmanovic plays, for a bit
Winter, the guru of the triangle offense, the man who once had 57 consecutive years of coaching before taking one year off, has not always seen the Lakers run his offense with the precision that he likes.
"Sometimes it looks more like an obtuse triangle," Winter said.
Keep in mind, Winter admitted, he would like perfection, even though he knows it may not be obtained.
"No, they're doing OK," said Winter, the Lakers' basketball consultant. "It's just a question of staying with the offense, staying with the principle of the offense. Sometimes we get away from it, give up on it too soon."
What bothers Winter the most is when the Lakers stop sharing the basketball, when they don't make the extra pass, when players decide to play more one on one rather than the team concept.
The concept of the triangle offense is ball and player movement with a purpose, to pass the basketball to the first open man, to cut hard.
"The ball stops, often times when the ball is in Kobe's hand," Winter said about Kobe Bryant. "That's fine, as long as it's an isolation situation that he can take advantage of. But the other players have to play without that basketball and stay spaced and make themselves available."
Winter has liked what Pau Gasol has provided the Lakers. Gasol's move from center last season to power forward has been seamless.
"Pau is a smart basketball player," Winter said. "He has a good basketball IQ. He knows how to get himself open in the spots and I think the offense is really good for him. Now I think the thing we need to have is have [ Andrew] Bynum get back to playing like he did last year. And he will. He'll come around. That's the encouraging thing about it. The discouraging thing is we'd like to have it happen sooner than later."
The Lakers' swoon on defense is an issue for Winter too. He said defense is about hustle, about putting out an effort, about desire.
The Lakers once had all that this season.
"I think there's been some slippage in that regard," Winter said. "I think these guys oftentimes play up to the competition. I don't think they are getting themselves ready to play some of these people as much as they should."
That seemed to be the case Sunday night, when the Lakers didn't eased away from the Minnesota Timberwolves (4-19) until midway through the fourth quarter.