“I’ll make it next time,” Jackson said with a smile.
Jackson’s open 3-pointer came up short, and Shaquille O’Neal got the rebound as time expired Saturday night to preserve the Los Angeles Lakers’ 72-71 victory over the Houston Rockets in the opener of their first-round playoff series.
Game 2 will be played Monday night at the Staples Center before the best-of-seven series shifts to Houston.
Lakers coach Phil Jackson hopes the contest is officiated differently than the first game.
“It’s hard to imagine the mind-set of the referees. It just turned into a mud wrestling contest,” Jackson said at the Lakers’ training facility in El Segundo. “I don’t think that’s what the teams want.
“Maybe Houston wants that kind of game. I’m not going to blame the Rockets. They’re all these variety of unusual things that were called, weren’t called, missed calls. The shooting gets to be so difficult, it mires itself into an unpleasant sight for spectators.”
It certainly wasn’t the most entertaining game ever played, that’s for sure. There were more points scored in Sunday’s Dallas-Sacramento game four minutes into the third quarter than in the entire Rockets-Lakers game.
The Rockets weren’t complaining.
“I didn’t think it was physical at all,” Houston coach Jeff Van Gundy said after practice in Los Angeles.
“It was physical, it was what I expected and everything more,” said Steve Francis, who had 18 points, nine rebounds and five assists in the first playoff game of his five-year career.
“Isn’t that the way the playoffs are usually?” Yao Ming said through an interpreter.
O’Neal had no problem with the way the game was called.
“It was a well-officiated game—very physical,” he said.
His coach wasn’t surprised O’Neal approved.
“Oh, yeah, he’s going to like that physical play,” Phil Jackson said. “I’m talking about the aesthetics of the game.”
Jackson promised to shorten O’Neal’s minutes in Game 2. O’Neal had 20 points and 17 rebounds in 45 minutes, but the game-winning dunk was his only field goal in the second half.
O’Neal called the opener “a feel-out game.”
“It was low-scoring because we shot so poorly,” he said. “It was an ugly game, a miserable game. We’ve got to make sure we don’t have two ugly games.”
The Lakers shot 32.9 percent; the Rockets 38.2 percent. Houston won the rebounding battle 51-41, but committed 22 turnovers to 15 for Los Angeles.
“The turnovers—that’s obviously at the forefront of it,” Francis said.
While both teams missed some open shots, Jim Jackson said he believed good defense on both sides was more responsible for the low field goal percentages than simply poor shooting.
“It was a pretty physical game, but not any more than I’ve played in,” he said. “It just looked ugly because we weren’t making shots.”
Van Gundy said he didn’t come to Los Angeles looking for a split, a feat the Rockets can accomplish by winning Monday night.
“The only people who say they’re happy with a split is after you lose,” he said. “It’s about Game 2 now. There’s no positive in losing. The most important thing is deal with the result, realize one game has nothing to do with the next game.”
Lakers guard Gary Payton hyperextended his back late in the second quarter of Game 1, but played nearly 16 minutes in the second half.
“I’m OK, it’s a little stiff, it will be fine,” he said Sunday. “It’s just one of those things where you hear the pop—`What’s wrong?’
“By tomorrow, it will be fine.”
Jackson said Bryant, who shot 4-of-19, had an off-night.
O’Neal went 4-of-14 from the foul line after making only 11 of his last 38 free throws in the regular season.
“We know that the game could be a lot easier with Shaq making foul shots, that’s for sure,” Jackson said. “I’ve always felt the more you make an issue of it, the more difficult it becomes. He’s found a way to get through it over the years.”