Here’s a smattering of some of the more interesting quotes out of Wednesday’s NBA Finals practice from several of the Lakers:
Lakers Guard Kobe Bryant:
Q. What’s the challenge of finding a balance offensively, if you don’t shoot enough, you’re not being aggressive enough; if you shoot too much then you’re trying to do too much on your own? And how difficult is that?
KOBE BRYANT: You know what, I really don’t pay attention to it. I mean, my responsibility on this team, I have to do a little bit more, I’ve got to score and facilitate. So I have a lot more responsibilities, so I can’t just go off. I’ve got to get my guys involved sometimes. Sometimes you’re sacrificing your rhythm to try to rebuild it. Last night I couldn’t regenerate it.
Q. How do you know or when do you know when you’re going through a cold streak and you need to stop or when you need to keep shooting your way through it?
KOBE BRYANT: You know, if everybody is not in rhythm, if I feel like my guys are struggling that night, then I’ll shoot through it. Guys get things going, then I’ll keep going to them and try to find my way through it that way.
Q. What in your experience is the importance of winning on the road? How difficult is it to win on the road in the playoffs, and the importance of home court after such a long season, how much does that bear on The Finals?
KOBE BRYANT: I don’t think it’s too difficult to win on the road, to be honest with you. You have the team that executes very well, I don’t think the road is a factor. Home court to me from my perspective is not that big a deal.
Q. Are you aware of how well you have played coming off a loss with one day in between games? You guys are undefeated, and you have played particularly well in those games. Is that a conscious thing on your part, and what is your reaction to some speculation that you may have hit a wall last night, that you’re tired?
KOBE BRYANT: I mean, I’m aware of bouncing back after a tough loss. Hopefully we can do it again.
As far as me hitting the wall, so what if I did? I didn’t, but so what if I did?
Q. What does it mean if you did?
KOBE BRYANT: It means nothing.
KOBE BRYANT: Because I’ll run straight through it.
Lakers Coach Phil Jackson:
Q. At the end of the Game 2 you had said there were some stretches where Kobe had tried to do a little too much. What did you feel about yesterday? Were there some of those stretches at the same time?
PHIL JACKSON: I think he read the defense all right. The last play, obviously a turnover, we’re not happy about that, and the second to the last play where he tried to cross over and they closed the gap on him. That happened once before. They’re trying to do that. But I think he’s reading the defense and he knows what’s coming ahead of him. He’s not going into it blind or a situation where he is just being strong minded. I think that’s important, that he stays flexible in those situations and sees the options.
Q. The fact that the Magic set a pair of records last night and you guys were still in the game until the final seconds, is that encouraging? And with Dwight Howard in the middle and all the three point shooters, do they represent one of the most extreme versions of the inside outside game that you’ve come up against?
PHIL JACKSON: That last question, yes, I think so. They’re probably the most threatening at that. But San Antonio has been doing that for years. Houston was doing it in the ’90s, that Hakeem Olajuwon team that they had that splayed the three point shooters around, an inside game with like one guy and Robert Horry sitting on the side in his rookie, sophomore season as a player. This has been around, and this threatening three point line has been a real factor for some time in the playoffs in many ways. The first question, ask me that again.
Q. They set a couple records, off the charts, and you guys were there anyway.
PHIL JACKSON: Well, that’s part of it. We said to ourselves, just give yourself a chance to win this game because we know the energy is going to be high, the crowd is going to be encouraged, and obviously it’s going to make a difference in their bench play. The players have had struggles up to this point. We feel like we’ve played well enough to win. We’re not disappointed in how we played, but we are disappointed in the loss.
Lakers Forward Pau Gasol:
Q. Should you have gotten more shots last night? You didn’t get a lot of looks.
PAU GASOL: I don’t know. I mean, I got what I got, and that’s what it is. Should I have got more, should I have got less? It is what it is. It happened the way it happened. I was effective with the looks that I got, and I hope that I get, I don’t know, the same or more next game. I mean, I can’t really control all that. Just try to make the right play and try to be aggressive when I get a chance to, and that’s just the way it is.
Q. Can you demand the ball, I don’t know if that’s the right word, but is that in your nature? We’ve never seen you really demand it. Can you do that? Is that allowed in this offense? Are you not allowed to do that?
PAU GASOL: I try. For the most part when you get the big men in the offense first you become a passer because there’s a lot of cutting, a lot of cutting from the wings, a lot of cutting from the weak side, so there’s always something going on unless we decide that we’re going to be in isolation for the guy on the post. Some of my looks or half of my looks in the post are going to have some action going on around me, and it doesn’t really allow me to attack the way I would like to. But that also gives us motion in our offense, and it gives us energy and flow. So it’s something that has worked for us, and I’m a good passer, I feel comfortable passing the ball, I’m a willing passer and I want to get my teammates shots and lay ups. It’s fine with me, obviously. Like I said, I’m all about winning, I’m all about being effective and contributing, and that’s what I’m going to do.
Q. It’s not often when he gets a chance like Kobe had last night that he doesn’t come through in the clutch. Are you surprised when Kobe is not Kobe in those kind of situations?
PAU GASOL: Am I surprised? I guess you could say that, because most of the time he is effective and he does finish well. That’s why everybody talks about him being a clutch player, which he deserves and earned. He’s very effective in those particular plays. But I’ve seen him, played with him now for a year and a half, and I’ve seen him a lot of times finish well and help us win, and some of the times not. It’s just the way it is. You’ve got to give credit to defense, also, and there’s a lot of guys that are good defenders out there and put good pressure on him, and he’s going to have to make a decision because that’s what he loves to do, we like him to do, and he’s good at. The last game didn’t really go that well, but we expect the next game to be a different story.
Lakers Center Andrew Bynum:
Q. Do you feel like that’s one you should have won, though, they shoot 62 percent and you’re still only down 2 with 0.2 seconds to go?
ANDREW BYNUM: Exactly. We missed ten free throws, turned the ball over three or four times down the stretch.
Q. Was there anything wrong with Kobe down the stretch? He didn’t look as involved in the offense as he was in the first quarter.
ANDREW BYNUM: There wasn’t anything wrong with him, we just kind of started to try to get everybody involved, and basically at the end of the game we turned the ball over. A situation where a guy falls down, called time out, shoot away, free throws, everything.
Lakers Guard Derek Fisher:
Q: What are those things you can do better?
DEREK FISHER: Well, defensively there are some things that we can do in terms of taking away some spacing from them and doing a better job with dribble penetration off the screen roll. That’s really how they’re breaking our defense down is they’re using Howard in a screen roll and he’s setting really solid screens and putting us on the trail and basically collapsing or rotating our defense. It really comes down to screen roll defense and being able to contain that. As the series moves on, we’ll be able to continue adjusting and lock in on what we want to do.
Q. I know you don’t like to lose at all, but do you find any confidence in the fact that they had to shoot such a high percentage and still only won by two baskets?
DEREK FISHER: Yeah, I guess you don’t expect a team to be able to shoot the ball the way they did last night on a consistent basis. At the same time, you don’t necessarily rely on them just cooling off. There are some things that we need to do and have to do defensively to impact them offensively, and like I said, our ability to really slow down some things off of their screen roll I think is going to be key for us in order to be successful and try to come back and win tomorrow.