First Lakers' coach Phil Jackson admitted he is worried about the Spurs and now Spurs' coach Gregg Popovich reciprocates the feeling.
In the ESPN - Daily Dime, Pop openly admits he is trying to avoid the Lakers in the first round of the playoffs.
"The ones that say 'We don't care who we play,' they're full of baloney too, because we're all trying to hide from the Lakers," Popovich said. "I mean, really. 'Who do you want to play in the first round?' 'Oh, the Lakers'. What an idiot."
As I stated earlier today, I have to agree with Pop. Lakers pose a huge challenge for the Spurs mainly becuase of the Lakers' bigger front court and since the Spurs do not have a reliable perimeter defender to guard Kobe Bryant as in seasons past with Bruce Bowen.
Should the Spurs and Lakers meet in the first-round, the Spurs bench and the back-court of Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and George Hill, will have to play at a high level in a 7-game series to have a shot at upsetting the Lakers.
Speaking of Parker, Pop also mentioned he should be returning to the Spurs for the last two games of the regular season and gave a status on the recently injured George Hill.
Popovich says the broken bone in Parker's right hand should be healed enough for him to return between the final two games of the regular season and the first two games of the playoffs, with the April 12 game against Minnesota as the target. He said Hill, who will have further tests on the ankle Monday, "is probably going to be out a while."
Lakers' coach Phil Jackson on the refs and Ginobili in the loss to the Spurs
In yesterday's game against the Lakers, Spurs' Manu Ginobili and Lakers' Ron Artest got tangled up a bit which led to both of them receiving technicals. Of course, this didn't sit well with Phil and he had the following to say on the refs, and Ginobili:
"Tonight they wouldn't let Ron play the way he played prior to [the technical-foul call]," Jackson said. "[Ginobili] could hook Ron; [Artest] didn't get what was going on and ended up getting too many fouls on him."
"The way we ended up the half I think turned the referees against us, and when you do that, that's an unfortunate thing," Jackson said. "Ron didn't back off and didn't read that official well enough to know you got to back off, you got to lighten the load, he's not going to take any more of that. Ginobili forced the issue and got the calls."
"On both the replays that we looked at, Ginobili hooks him," Jackson said. "He does the up-and-under move with the hook. Obviously the referees just didn't want the contact at that time. I told Ron at halftime, 'You got to back off when it's time to back off.' You just can't keep being persistent about that because they sent you a warning signal, and that signal was, 'Back off.' We ended up giving them some momentum at the half and probably got the referees on the back end of our game."
Nice job Phil! No it wasn't anything the Spurs did. It wasn't the fact the Spurs bench outscored your bench 20-4. I am sure the Lakers' loss to the Spurs had nothing to do with getting out rebounded by the Spurs 41-34, Ginobili scoring 32 points, or the Spurs outscoring the Lakers in the paint, 48-40. It was all because of the refs!