A visit to the struggling Phoenix Suns could help.
The Lakers look to build on one of their best performances in nearly three weeks when they face the Suns on Wednesday night.
The Lakers bounced back in impressive fashion Tuesday, beating Detroit 108-83 after Bryant gave his teammates some advice in dealing with the growing criticisms of the two-time reigning NBA champions.
“I told the guys, ‘Listen to how everyone is talking about you. You have to use it as fuel for motivation,’” Bryant said. “It’s early, we just continue to play, take our time. The playoffs aren’t tomorrow.”
Jackson feels there’s still more work to do for Los Angeles to turn things around. However, the Lakers’ struggles haven’t done much damage to their lead atop the Pacific Division - 8 1/2 games ahead of second-place Phoenix (14-18).
“We have to really turn it around,” Jackson said. “One game is not the end of this situation.”
Continued success in the defensive end could go a long way in spurring Los Angeles. The team held the Pistons to 3 for 13 shooting from 3-point range while forcing 19 turnovers that led to 25 points - 17 more than Sunday.
Bryant has reached 40 points once this season, getting 41 in a loss to Indiana on Nov. 28. He topped that plateau eight times last season, including seven by this stage.
Bryant is averaging 29.9 points in his last seven meetings with Phoenix, and the Lakers have won 10 of the last 14 matchups.
They won 114-106 in their last visit to US Airways Center on Oct. 29 behind 25 points from Bryant.
Phoenix has been much better defensively over the last two games, allowing 40.6 percent shooting - 28.1 from 3-point range. However, the Suns have just one win to show for that improvement as they followed Friday’s 92-75 win over Detroit with a 94-89 loss at Sacramento on Sunday.
That defeat came despite a perfect shooting performance from Steve Nash, who was 8 of 8 from the field - including a pair of 3s. He also hit both free throws to finish with 20 points and 12 assists against the Kings.
Nash wasn’t close to being that productive in the most recent home meeting with the Lakers, making 3 of 9 shots for eight points while dishing out nine assists. He was much better at Los Angeles in a 121-116 win on Nov. 14, scoring 21 points with 13 assists.
Vince Carter is averaging 18.0 points over three games since being acquired from Orlando as part of a six-player deal last month. The swingman scored 25 points for the Magic in a win over the Lakers on March 7.
by Nicolino Dibenedetto