Phil Jackson Pre-Atlanta

The highlights of a lively pre-Atlanta Phil Jackson, featuring details about an informal practice on Tuesday, the matchup with the Hawks, Pau Gasol being “very tough” but not “very, very tough” and more.

On how he and the team is feeling heading into the team’s fifth game in eight days:
Jackson: One of the things we talk about is that you pack your bags but don’t get yourself home before the game’s even started.

On not having a full practice* on Tuesday, an off day in Atlanta.
*Jackson later explained that certain players did in fact practice, it just wasn’t a full team workout.
Jackson: There’s a lot that goes into it … I’d like to discuss it with you, but I won’t. It’s not top secret, but it’s among us.

On putting Ron Artest on Joe Johnson, since Artest had success against him in November when L.A. beat the Hawks at home.
Jackson: (Artest) wants to (start on Johnson). I let (Kobe Bryant and Artest) work it out because it depends on who is guarding whom. If they put Joe on Kobe, he’s going to be matched up with him a lot of times. But otherwise, if it’s a cross match, it will work out fine.

On if he agrees with Gasol’s statement to a reporter that Gasol is “very, very tough.”
Jackson: I think two very’s is too many. He’s very tough. Not two very’s.

On if Gasol is so smart that he can be harder to reach with a message from Jackson:
Jackson: Well yesterday in our little discussion we had, I did say that he took the bait. The other night I told him how he can’t get good post up positions on (New Orleans center Emeka) Okafor, and (Okafor’s) always had good games against him, and (Gasol) scores the first 12 points in the quarter. Of those times, he looked at the bench five of the six times. So obviously he (listens). I did tell him, ‘You don’t have to look over to the bench, you should know by now what motivation is and you should be able to do that for yourself.

On if Kobe and Pau suffered from a lack of help in New Orleans:
Jackson: One of the reasons that we went over to practice yesterday with just a few players – it was not an official practice, obviously we didn’t have the full team – was to digest a little bit of what happened when we came back in the game in the third quarter, how we played. The starters got us back in the game after being down a significant amount in the first half. When you have to come back like that, you have to really kind of reign it in, and we’ve had to do that numbers of times this year. We came down and a couple of times took 3-point shots, those shots turned into non-successful attempts, as a result put ourselves back into a whole again. We wanted to talk a little bit about not being desperate; you have the dominance, just keep weighing in on a team and keep pounding them down until they crumble, instead of making it look like we’re settling for home run shots or hero shots.

On if the bench being outscored in a big way in New Orleans bothers him:
Jackson: It makes me want to throw up sometimes. It just doesn’t make any sense. They played three guys off the bench, they had success. We have kind of sculpted out what the bench does, and they fulfilled our prophecy, our worst fears. It’s an area where we really have been emphasizing coming out and playing a little better.

On the importance of tonight’s game:
Jackson: I told them they can redeem the trip by winning this game.

On Luke Walton and Andrew Bynum:
Jackson: Luke wants to play in this Sunday’s game, wants to go through a practice (first) and play; we haven’t gotten a definitive time for Andrew yet. We’re hoping that next week is kind of a break through and he’s capable of playing by week’s end. It’s been 10 days and could be another 10.