Phil Jackson spoke to assembled media at length on Wednesday evening, after the team returned unblemished from a trip through Minneapolis and Oklahoma City to improve to 47-10 on the season.
Here’s what the head coach had to say about games versus Denver and Phoenix, Shaq’s running game, and the play of Lamar Odom and Sasha Vujacic.
On Denver and Phoenix: “If you don’t play defense and just try to outscore teams like that, you’re going to get caught in a bind.”
He went on to explain that Phoenix has had great success scoring since their coaching change (Alvin Gentry replacing Terry Porter), with the exception of their loss to Boston, because they’re “exactly like” the old D’Antoni running teams in Phoenix.
On how Shaquille O’Neal’s fitting in to the running game: “It looked like he was going the opposite direction for the first five or six minutes of that Boston game, but he seems to be running very well … It doesn’t fit his style of play, obviously, but he’s a great outlet passer.” Jackson said Phoenix will run and then wait to get O’Neal involved once he makes it down the floor.
On Lamar Odom: “He’s done really well until last night. He was awful last night … No, he’s played really well. We know Lamar is an exceptional ball player, and players thrive on minutes in this game.” Jackson said that stats can be misleading sometimes, but what they really need from Odom is his rebounding and passing, and in particular his board work on the offensive glass.
It’s funny that Jackson said Odom was “awful,” because while he certainly wasn’t as aggressive as he’s been in recent games, he still managed to lead the Lakers in +/- at +21.
A reporter asked Jackson if he were concerned about Vujacic’s lack of scoring of late. Phil wasn’t: “He doesn’t have to force shots or score for us to be successful, so as long as he flushes out that role and plays his 12 to 16 minutes and gives Kobe the rest he needs, that’s great. Now if he has extended minutes and is playing 24 minutes and isn’t in rhythm with his shot and we need those shots, than we are concerned. But I don’t worry about Sasha. He’s over here shooting two hours a day almost every day and is neurotic almost about his shooting.”