Few chances remain for Derek Fisher to lace up his shoes against his longtime team, the Los Angeles Lakers.
So when Derek learned last week that Kobe Bryant would be returning in time for the first meeting between the Lakers and Fish’s Thunder this season, No. 6 was glad he’d get to share the floor with his former teammate and good friend.
Bryant saw limited action in just his third game back from the Achilles tear that ended his 2012-2013 season. D-Fish ended the night with three points, two steals an assist and a rebound; Bryant had just four points, two steals and a rebound, but did dish out 13 assists.
It wasn’t the Bryant performance fans of the NBA have grown accustomed to seeing, but D-Fish told Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News that he doesn’t think it will take Bryant very long to get back to his old scoring ways.
“When the switch goes on, it will go on to the way people are accustomed toward seeing Kobe Bryant play. It’s just a matter of time before that happens,” he said. “It’s been difficult for him to persevere through all the different stages of rehab that he’s gone through just so he can come back. Now that he’s back on the court, I think there’s a new beginning. This is the first step. I see a very strong trajectory going up in the near future.”
Derek told the Daily News that he and Bryant still maintain a close relationship despite no longer being teammates and are in contact often, but they rarely discuss the status of each other’s teams, or Oklahoma City’s chances to get Fish a sixth ring that would put him one up on his friend.
“That never comes up. In some ways, I can’t even fathom winning championships and looking up and not seeing him right there,” Fish said. “It’s hard to even have that kind of conversation. But at the same time, we’ll feel very driven to try to be on a championship team again before our career is over.”
As he continues through his final NBA season, Derek said he thinks often of his past with the Lakers, with whom he spent 12 and a half of his 18 NBA seasons. Barring a playoff run by the Lakers, he’ll play against them just three more times before his career is over: February 13 and March 9 in Los Angeles and March 13 back in OKC.
“The success of our teams helped feed my development,” Fisher said. “But if you have a passion or love for something that you do, you’re willing to persevere and endure and fight through adversity and still enjoy the process of what you do.”
To read Medina’s entire story about Derek’s final season, visit DailyNews.com.
THUNDER SLIP PAST MAGIC
Following their win over the Lakers on Friday, the Thunder finished of a brief homestand on Sunday with a 101-98 victory over the Orlando Magic.
Derek tallied five points in nearly 17 minutes, but the game came down to the wire as the Thunder saw a 12 point lead cut to two by a 10-0 Magic run in the final two minutes. A Kevin Durant free throw pushed the lead back to three. Orlando’s Glen Davis missed a three that would have tied the game and Serge Ibaka block a putback attempt by Magic big man Nik Vucevic to end the game.
“The most important thing is the team win,” Ibaka said. “I just wanted to try to be focused and help my team finish the game strong. I just go there and jump. I know it’s the last second so it’s really hard when time is going down for the guy to get a rebound and pump-fake, so I just jumped early and tried to get a blocked shot.”
The win was Oklahoma City’s sixth in a row and 14th in their last 15 games. But coach Scott Brooks still sees room for improvement among his charges and believes Sunday night’s game to be a key example of that.
“We’re playing good basketball right now,” Brooks said. “But we want consistency and that’s what good players and good teams strive for.”
The Thunder begin a hectic travel week on Monday when they travel to Denver for a game against the Nuggets on Tuesday night. Then it’s back to OKC for a home game against the Bulls on Thursday. Tuesday’s game has an 8 p.m. CT start, and can be seen on Fox Sports Oklahoma while Thursday’s begins at 7 p.m. CT on TNT.
- Ex-Laker Derek Fisher hoping to go out a champion one last time with Thunder (Los Angeles Daily News, December 12, 2013)
- Live coverage: Thunder vs Lakers (The Oklahoman, December 11, 2013)
- Thunder locked in on continuing their all-around play (OKCThunder.com, December 14, 2013)
- Game in Review: Lakers at Thunder (OKCThunder.com, December 13, 2013)
- Game in Review: Magic at Thunder (OKCThunder.com, December 15, 2013)