Let’s hear from Phil right away today, shall we?
Allow me to bullet point:
The Lakers focused no more on defense during Monday’s practice than they do every practice. Phil answered a question as such, implying that just because the defensive effort waned at times against Sacramento in Sunday’s 10-point win, it didn’t mean the Lakers had to change any points of emphasis. Basically, Sunday’s lapses were due to lessening up of focus and effort, not principles. In other words, please stop worrying about it.
I asked Jackson how the Lakers would try and keep Vince Carter from getting into a rhythm offensively: “I think he’s one of those players where you want to limit his touches,” Phil responded. “Just make sure that it’s difficult for him to get the ball, and to make him step away from his favorite spots to do so.” I should have followed up by asking him what those spots are and how much watching film helps towards that end, but usually try not to proliferate pregame press conferences with unless I can’t help myself.
Jackson discussed L.A.’s extended home stretch, somehow managing to talk for 30 second without really saying much. He’s very good at that when he wants to be, right?
An interesting comment about where the team is right now: “We’re still quite a ways away from playing the kind of fluid rhythm it takes for us to play (very well),” Jackson said. “I think we’re playing kind of herky-jerky and spotty, but it’s early … Some of it is that we’re playing so many minutes to so many different guys, but I’m trying to get units together to kind of mesh their talent.”
About New Jersey, Jackson noted that the Nets open the floor up with dribble drives (as we heard in our scouting report with Matt McQueeny) and don’t run much of the Princeton offense anymore. They run a few plays for Vince Carter and have some shooters to spread the floor for Carter and Devin Harris, which Jackson said is “the rage in the NBA right now.” Jackson, however, is “not particularly” a fan of the dribble-drive offense, suggesting that coaches do it to try and take advantage of the three-point line, which has made the game different from how it used to be. Jackson does like the fan appeal of that offense, because it increases scoring and makes for a more fun game to watch.
The final few moments of the presser involved a friendly back-and-forth between Jackson and a few reporters about the reality of media coverage. “Nit picky” and “punditry” were a few words Jackson fairly used to emphasize all of the “negative” stories that I’ve been whining about, such as how the defense has struggled recently and so on. “You have to write something,” Phil concluded.
I also spent a few minutes talking to D.J. Mbenga – a tremendously cultured individual after being born in Africa and growing up in Europe – about his favorite European country, Spain. I’ll drop that audio into the running diary somewhere.