Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers smiles on the sideline with Earl Clark #6, Jodie Meeks #20 and Antawn Jamison #4 during a 116-94 Laker win over the Minnesota Timberwolves at Staples Center on February 28, 2013 in Los Angeles, California.
After the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Minnesota Timberwolves on Thursday night, 36-year-old forward Antawn Jamison provided a veteran view into what exactly had the team playing winning basketball.
In Jamison’s eyes, the team meeting in Memphis, where players and coaches exchanged words behind closed doors, was the catalyst.
"I think after the last Memphis game -- as a team and as a coaching staff -- we got a better understanding from one another," Jamison said. "We all talked, and the players talked to the coaching staff."
Prior to that point, Jamison and his teammates seemed unable to connect with each other and coach Mike D’Antoni’s staff. The results of that disconnect were a team seven games under .500, an embarrassed group of players and a fuming fan base.
"Me and (D’Antoni) talked," Jamison continued. "It was tough at first, but now we have a relationship where if I see something, I can talk to him, and he has no problem coming to me like, 'look, your minutes might go down this game' or 'I might try something new' and that’s what I’ve been accustomed to."
Jamison verified that the increased level of communication started in Memphis and eventually allowed him to get comfortable in his role.
"We got some chemistry going on. I know the amount of minutes that I’m going to be out there," he said. "I know what (D’Antoni) wants from me exactly, so I’m able to pretty much play my game."
Jamison was not one to portray the team as a finished product by any means, and the experienced swingman was not shy in discussing his team’s deficiencies -- namely the transition game.
"That’s the most important thing for us," Jamison started out. "Once we get a team in the half-court defensively, we are a pretty good defensive team. The most important thing for us is not to let teams get easy opportunities in transition."
Against Denver, the Lakers were unable to stop the transition baskets, but outside of that, the Lakers have played significantly harder and transitioned from offense to defense with greater purpose following the private powwow.
In fact, LA has won 12 of its 17 games since returning from Memphis.
For his part, Jamison has scored 10 or more points in seven straight games. In his 15th season in the NBA, the former North Carolina Tar Heel has scored in double digits in 13 of the Lakers’ last 17 games.
Jamison has easily been the Lakers’ most consistent bench player during their improved stretch of basketball.
Ultimately, it is simple for Jamison.
"It’s just communication," Jamison concluded. "Chemistry is where it should be after that."