We pulled some of the more interesting quotes from Saturday’s media sessions for the Lakers and Magic, with Game 2 approximately 24 hours away.
Here are highlights of what Phil Jackson, Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Stan Van Gundy, and Hedo Turkoglu had to say:
Lakers Head Coach Phil Jackson
Q. Have you been able to track why this team has played to well really since the fourth quarter of Game 5 against Denver? It seemed like the team started to turn around right then.
JACKSON: Yeah, I don’t want to put too much emphasis on past efforts. The last successful act you do, that’s kind of a statement we use or a motto we use. You have to regenerate that all the time. They have a good feel right now, and hopefully they can sustain that tomorrow.
Q. Can you talk about Andrew’s whole postseason that he’s gone through and the way he responded in Game 1, and kind of gave the team a lift to start off the game and what you expect from the rest of the series?
JACKSON: Andrew has had a year that’s been a repeat almost of last season, you know, started to play really well in the month of December, got himself a 40 point game in January, then had the accident again almost at the same time, an incident that created a possible loss of season. This year he’s more fortunate and he was able to come back off of his injury. Playing a handful of games at the end of the season I think was a benefit for him. You know, he didn’t fully get to rehab his knee, but he got as close as we can possibly get before he started playing. So that’s one of the things that we’re really concerned, that he fully rehabs after the season is over and he’s 100 percent. But he’s come back and played with a brace which has some limitation … He gave us a lift in the first quarter of the game the other day, and that’s what we want, that early inside presence out there in the ballgame, and the combination of Pau and Drew out there gave us that impact. Pau has been very good at looking for Andrew, feeding Andrew, getting the ball into him when he has an open spot and an opportunity, and I think that’s helped Andrew’s game a lot. He’s very animated, intensely focused, I think, on this match up between himself and Howard, almost too much so, to the point where he still has to help, he still has to stop penetration. But he really has it in his mind that he’s going to stay attached to him, keep his body off the rim or away from the rebounds.
Q. I wonder if you could compare the importance of limiting Dwight Howard’s offense versus limiting Hedo Turkoglu’s offense, which carries more importance?
JACKSON: When you figure out the leaders of this team without Nelson on the floor, you have to figure out that Turkoglu is the leader by his amount of assists that he has, the ability to create shots for a lot of his teammates by his penetration off the ball, with the ball, off screens. You know, his value to the team at the end of the game in critical situations. So we have great respect for that aspect. However, Howard is always that threat inside, which that’s a 60 percent conversion. He gets the ball inside, he’s going to shoot 60 percent. If he’s close enough, he can finish. He leads the league in dunks. Those things are devastating to defense because a lot of times it all ends up with a three point play attached to it, what we call the old fashioned way. So really you’ve got the best of both worlds in the first game, he was 1 for 6 and the three point shooters were limited to a few baskets. So we know that’s going to change, and we want to make sure that we stay with our emphasis to stop penetration, and that’s the big thing, stop interior passes if we can, stop penetration off the dribble because that’s going to erupt to three point shooting opportunities.
Q. How much does your size on Hedo impact him? Stan pointed to that yesterday as a big difference from what he faced in the last two rounds?
JACKSON: Well, West, the defender from Cleveland, he’s a 6’2″ defender, 6’3″ at most. Trevor is angular, tall, wing span. Then we have big guys coming to help with that size and length. It’s been noted this year that the size that we play with has some effect on teams as far as penetration and passing and dribbling and then making the passes. So we’ve tried to accentuate that.
Lakers Guard Kobe Bryant
Q. Sometimes a team and an individual can be in that proverbial zone, where they can do almost no wrong. Are you and your teammates in that zone right now?
BRYANT: I don’t know, I hope so. We’ve been playing pretty well. We’ve just got to stay focused, try to keep it going.
Q. In your mind what is the biggest misconception about yourself?
BRYANT: The way I am on the court is the way I am off the court. I’m completely different at home and outside of the Staples Center and here. I think my USA Olympic teammates were up for a pretty big shock, too, this summer. I’d probably say that.
Q. Not to imply that you’re anywhere near done, but how much longer do you want to play?
BRYANT: I don’t know. I mean, I just love the game so much still. I just feel like there’s still so much out there for me to improve on and work on. My body feels great. God willing, I stay healthy, I’ll just keep going.
Q. Has your game gotten better or started to deteriorate at all?
BRYANT: No, I feel like I’m a much better player right now than I was last year. I just feel like I’ve improved a lot. I think there was areas of my game that I needed to work on, and I worked on those, and I think I’m better because of it.
Lakers Forward Pau Gasol:
Q. You’ve almost day to day now been with Kobe for more than a year now. How is he different as a person maybe than what you thought before you came to the Lakers?
GASOL: I don’t know, I didn’t really have a huge concept. I don’t usually prejudge people without knowing them. I’ve been very happily impressed with his personality. I know him more on the floor because we spend a lot more time on the floor than off the floor. Obviously he’s got a lot of commitments off the floor. But he’s a guy that loves to win, loves to compete, and basketball is his life and his passion, and that’s what drives everything else. He’s got so much energy. That’s something that has impressed me, he has so much energy. I don’t know he sleeps, but it just feels like he’s got so much in him. It’s pretty impressive. Sometimes I’m jealous at times of that, because I have to get my rest, be real low key, and he’s got so much power in him and determination. It’s fun to watch.
Q. You’re a guy who can go either way with either hand, you have so many moves around the basket. Is it something for Dwight Howard it’s hard to have that much because he’s so used to just bullying his way to the basket whereas you’re the type of player who has to work on those kind of things?
GASOL: Well, Dwight has improved in his most of his game from last year, definitely from years prior to that, and he’s become more of a post threat. But obviously uses a lot of his athleticism and his force and his strength. I think he still needs to develop a little more into a better post player because that’s going to help him. That’s just going to help him be more unstoppable, develop a little bit more of a shot, face up shot, and turnaround jumpers will help him, too. I just think it’s a weapon that you can use for double teams. When you have a double team and you have a turnaround jumper, turning baseline, it’s really important, especially in clutch situations when your team counts on you to deliver and finish and probably teams that know your strengths are not going to allow you to go in the heart of the lane. So we’re trying to do that, and we’ve been effective in Game 1, and we look forward to continuing to be effective in upcoming games.
Magic Head Coach Stan Van Gundy:
Q. You talked yesterday about maybe making some adjustments, maybe going big a little bit. What have you thought about since the last 24 hours, taking offense off the floor?
VAN GUNDY: We’ve obviously thought about a lot of things and will continue to. What you actually do, what we’ll do is try to be prepared to do whatever it is we think we have to do. But a lot will just be determined by what’s going on in the game. I think if we continue to have as much trouble as we did on the boards on Thursday night, then we may have to look at playing big a little bit more often. You know, obviously our pick and roll defense has to get better. I don’t know if that means changing anything, but it does have to get better, and we have to see if we can control 56 points in the paint a little bit … We may have to go more time, a little bit better, playing a bigger 4 man. Again, I don’t think that that’s ideal for us offensively, and I think obviously we’ve come a long way this year by being able to spread the floor out and put four guys who can shoot the ball out there. But we really struggled on the glass the other day, and we struggled to defend the paint. If that continues to be a problem, then I think we’ve got to look at being able to play a little bit bigger.
Q. As far as the point guard situation after seeing Jameer, how are you looking at it now with Anthony and Rafer?
VAN GUNDY: Well, right now my plan would be to play them in the same rotation. But again, like I said yesterday, I thought it was a mistake to play in his first game back to play Jameer 12 straight minutes. I thought he played extremely well and that’s what kept him out there, but I think we should have kept him at six or seven minutes in that first stint regardless of how well he played, not only for the fact that it kept Rafer on the bench for a long time, but also I think that was hard on him stamina wise, and I think we sort of ran the tank empty. And even when he came back in the second half, he didn’t have as good as energy. So we’ll try to watch that tomorrow.
Magic Forward Hedo Turkoglu:
Q. What has it been like going against Trevor Ariza since you did go against him a lot in practice? He says he picked up a few things from you. What has it been like guarding him? And did you give him all your secrets?
TURKOGLU: He’s been a great defender all his career. He’s long and he’s athletic. He’s just trying to give me a hard time, and he was trying to deny me not to get the ball easy and trying to put a lot of pressure. Like I said, I just have to read the people guarding me and just go from there. If he’s putting a lot of pressure on me I have to drive get them in foul trouble, give me some space and I can read and try to find my teammates. I’ve been good about those situations, like those kind of good defenders guarding me. I’ve just got to wait and see how they’re going to guard me, and I have to just be aggressive, just make them do their job by putting a lot of pressure and me being active, not trying to be passive and just giving up the ball.