The Lakers and Spurs meet again and for the first time in a long time, it’s the Spurs looking up to the Lakers in the standings. One of the wins that got the Lakers to where they are was over the Spurs, though the Spurs were without Duncan and Parker and Ginobili was injured. Phil was asked if he watched that game video, or if it didn’t matter since their key players were missing. He replied, ”I haven’t looked at that game tape. The only reason I want to look at it was to see why Andrew was thrown out of that ball game. Ginobili grabbed him around the neck and Oberto hit him a couple of times and got in a cheap shot. I just wanted to see if the referees were staying on top of it. The season overwhelms you sometimes, this might be the third or so game that I haven’t watched this year.”
Andrew will miss the entirety of this game with his injury and one of the Lakers solutions was the signing of DJ Mbenga. Phil talked about if Mbenga was ready to play, “We”ll use him. If we have to in the game we certainly will. I anticipate using him. Obviously he won’t know many of the finer points of how to play with his teammates or move in the offense, but he’s got capabilities of doing some things that help out.”
The Lakers have 2 players, Luke and Sasha still working their way back from injuries. Phil commented on Luke’s struggles since he came back. “Well, you just have to watch that he’s not overplayed. I think that too many minutes is really going to hurt him, wear him out and tear him down physically. So guys have to share those minutes. I think that’s the reason that Lamar is going to have to move back from power forward and Kobe is going to have to move down from guard to forward. And we’re going to have to adjust a little bit to that.” Phil commented further on Luke’s struggles, “He’s struggling. Offensively he’s struggling, I think he’s doing a good job defensively for us. He’s capable of running the offense and keeping things going out there with the first unit. That’s helpful, but he needs to have a good game.”
Sasha also has struggled in his first game back, trying to win back his spot as the fourth guard, according to Phil, “For a second until he got into the game and got anxious out there in the second half and ruined some of our offensive timing. Then Jordan came back and played beside Fish and finished that quarter well. Sasha’s ability to do things helps us. He makes the defense extend as a 3 point threat. It helps our spacing.”
With Luke’s struggles and Ariza’s injury, we saw a new version of the backcourt with Fisher and Jordan together in the backcourt.. Their play will be helpful with getting
Kobe on the wing. Phil said, “The guard corps that we have, and it doesn’t have to be just Fish or Jordan, the guard corps can maintain what we’re trying to do. Kobe is very comfortable playing small forward. The only difference is that it changes hwo re rebound and defend that spot. It does make us small.”
Lastly, Phil commented on the Sports Illustrated poll of who players would like to play for a vote which Phil led with Mike D’Antoni of the Suns, to which he said, “I think the system of how you play ball is really important. I think Phoenix has a wonderful way of playing basketball. I understand that . I don’t know why anyone would want to play for me, I am too rigid and perhaps too confining with how we do things.
“I have no animosity towards mike. Absolutely none. I met him when he was a rookie coming into the league and my former teammates said that he had a really good basketball mind and would be a good coach and he’s become one.”