PHOENIX - MARCH 12: Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers in action during the NBA game against the Phoenix Suns at US Airways Center on March 12, 2010 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Lakers defeated the Suns 102-96. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
For most of the season, Lakers fans thought Derek Fisher was the Anti-Midas -- everything he touched turned to… fertilizer.
All season long, Fisher looked old and slow. He made ordinary point guards on other teams look like Hall of Famers. He wasn’t hitting jumpers, he wasn’t getting to the rim. He was hurting the team.
Then the playoffs started, and it’s like a whole different Fisher.
Not a dominant one, but solid one. And that’s all the Lakers really need.
Suddenly he’s a guy who has used his physicality on defense to guide Deron Williams to help and keep the Jazz star in check (as much as he can be kept in check). In the first half of game one, the Lakers went with their defensive stopper — Ron Artest — on Williams, but when the game was on the line at the end it was Fisher on him. Because he was doing a good job.
The playoffs mean Fisher can suddenly shoot again. His 38 percent regular season shooting average is suddenly 43.5 percent. His 34 percent from three is suddenly 44 percent. He is getting the same looks, but there is something about Fisher when the pressure is on.
The shots go in.
The Lakers triangle offense does not ask a lot of its point guards. First, organize the offense and set it in motion — the one thing Fisher did well all season, the one reason he continued to get key minutes all year (Jordan Farmar and Shannon Brown both struggled with this). Second, hit open shots. Third, play some defense.
Those latter two were missing in the regular season, but they have been back for the playoffs.
This is a guy Kobe trusts — and Kobe does not trust easily — because he has hit the big shots. He did it again in the NBA Finals last year, key threes in game four. He hit three of six from three in the game where the Lakers closed out the pesky Oklahoma City Thunder. There is good reason Kobe likes to go to war with him.
The Lakers still need to sort out their point guard situation this summer. Fisher at age 36 cannot be the lead point guard again for a full season. The Lakers need a change.
At least for the regular season. In the playoffs, we know what Fisher is going to show up.