The team got an afternoon workout after last night’s (or more correctly this morning’s) arrival into Dallas.
In reflecting on last night’s loss, Phil once again pointed to the shift in energy and motivation as the reason for the difference in play between the first half and second half against San Antonio. Specifically, Phil mentioned Manu Ginobili’s work on the defensive end.
Looking forward to tomorrow’s match-up, Phil said, “This team (Dallas), they can play the game. They run the game in a way that they pound it through you and they make you pay and they watch their turnovers. They do things the way a grind-it-out team in this game does. It makes it very difficult. You have to be very solid defensively and not give them second shots.” In reference to the match-ups, Phil pointed out that Lamar was not present in the games against Dallas and his ability to match-up with Nowitzki, mobility wise.
On how you stop the multi-headed threat that Dallas presents, Phil had this formula. “The big key about them is to understand where their shots are going to come from and know that they have a variety of shooters on the floor. You’ve got to be able to play individual defense and the key is penetration so they don’t break your defense down.”
Kobe also spoke about how to beat Dallas. He had this to say, “We need to get out in transition, get some good opportunites. And we need to limit their second chance points, limit their easy looks at the basket.”
In terms of where the Western Conference stands, Phil advised to, “see what happens after the All-Star break. After the All-Star break you have the downhill slide to the season and you can plot out what’s going to happen in the west.” Phil mentioned that the Hornets seems likely to be around until the end, while Houston, with McGrady’s return and Utah, with a more favorable turn of schedule, were bound to make some noise.
As for being at the midpoint in the season, Phil said, “You want to be 41-0, but you take the attrition with the schedule and the injuries and we’re ok with where we’re at.”
On the injury front, Ronny’s use is still limited by his lingering toe injury. That as much as anything is dictating how long Ronny can stay on the floor at one time and how he shares minutes with Kwame.
Kobe also spoke about being on the cusp of securing another starting role in the All-Star game. “It’s always exciting. It doesn’t get old at all. Nowadays it’s such a spectical. What I think I enjoy the most is being around my peers. I think this year more than in year’s past because we all know each other now better than in the past from playing together on Team USA.”