Monday Practice Report

Always on top of your practice video is our own Ty Nowell, who’s currently working on Phil Jackson and Andrew Bynum after already posting Kobe Bryant’s interview. (NOTE: Those videos are now live and are linked above)

Now, if you read my postgame summary last night, you know that I was getting slightly annoyed with the over-the-top worrying about L.A. not sustaining a top-notch defensive effort for the duration of the ball game. Just from a pure basketball perspective, no matter if you love or hate the Lakers, it’s simply hard to argue that the game wasn’t fully in control from the tip.

Yet, predictably, many of Monday’s questions directed towards Phil, Kobe and Bynum had to do with the “let down” against the Kings. When Kobe was talking, I stepped back from the fray to speak with Lakers spokesman John Black, asking him if these types of questions were predictable. He replied, in essence, that if that’s what people are talking about, the team must be playing pretty darn well. Good point. Jackson, for his part, was more concerned with the turnovers than relaxing a bit with big lead (he said it’s “not unusual”), but really didn’t seem to be too concerned at all.

Not For the Weary
What stood out to me on Monday, especially after speaking to Chris Mihm, was that sometimes L.A.’s practices are tougher than games. Mihm alluded in particular to how deep and talented the team is, meaning that even the third unit’s going to offer some serious competition.

“From my aspect, I’m going up Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum, plus D.J. Mbenga who’s a very strong, physical player,” he said. “There aren’t better bigs that we go up against in games, so it’s a fantastic opportunity for everybody to really work on their game, especially guys like me who aren’t really getting minutes on the floor in games with now.”

I also asked Mihm about the physicality of these practices, because obviously, L.A.’s assistant coaches aren’t calling many fouls. As such, any time a big gets the ball in the paint, he’s going to get hacked by at least his defender, if not double-teamed and hit from two angles. So for Mihm, concentration is key, because if he knows they’re going to foul him and he won’t get bailed out with free throws, he’d better find a way to make the bucket anyway.

I also spent some time talking to Sun Yue in part about New Jersey’s Yi Jianlian, a close friend of Sun’s that will be in town tonight heading into Tuesday’s contest. Check for a separate post on that front.