In case you missed what Phil Jackson or Kobe Bryant had to say following L.A.’s 103-101 Game 5 victory, here are the highlights from their respective postgame press conferences:
Lakers Head Coach Phil Jackson
Q. (On Ron Artest)
COACH JACKSON: I don’t know why I left him in the game. I actually questioned it myself when I put him out there on the floor, and there he was. Made the key play. We had a little session with Ron after the ball game. A lot of hugs, and then a lot of discussion.
Q. (On the game being close)
COACH JACKSON: I anticipated a game like this in the series. All of them have been pretty much over in the last minute, and they were able to get this game back in control. Even at the end of three quarters, great comeback that they made. And you know I just felt like this was going to be that game.
And it sure was. And the next time I hope we’re as fortunate. Although, you know, you have to say that that bang shot from 3 is pretty fortunate. One good shot deserves another one.
Q. Any idea why you did put Ron back in? Did you have any instructions on that?
COACH JACKSON: He has an uncanny knack of doing things, and sometimes it just works out. He had a great steal that vaulted us into a big lead there in the third quarter. And he just has a knack of being around crucial plays.
Q. (On Kobe Bryant):
COACH JACKSON: He performed very well tonight. He’s very aggressive. I thought he did a great job offensively. Some things, some of the calls he just weathered through it. Had the poise and stayed strong and I thought there was a charged foul that was called, a blocking foul against him, and he just took it and went right on and played. And he got himself in foul trouble. I had to give him a little rest here and there when I could. But he did a great job.
Q. (On good fortune):
COACH JACKSON: My coaching staff says they want to live with me because I’m lucky and hang on. So whatever. Maybe it’s luck. You look at the stat sheet tonight. We did most of the things right. Turnovers, rebounds, blocked shots. We didn’t shoot as well as we shot in the course of the series. But we got a number of shots more than our opponent. All that momentum that we had in the game seemed to be the one that carried us over at the end, and I think that’s sometimes the way it is. You create the luck or the momentum that you’ve built up from the start of the game through the end of the game.
Q. How steady was Steve Nash in the fourth quarter?
COACH JACKSON: It’s the way we thought he would play. Kind of what we anticipated we would make him have to do was shoot the ball, carry the offense for them, try and stay at home on other guys so we weren’t getting burned to the 3 pointers, but unfortunately all of it was happening tonight for us. Frye was hitting 3 pointers and they were getting 3 point plays. A lot of it Steve was on the bench, but when he came back in at the end of the game he really did carry that charge that they made.
Q. You switched a lot of the picks on the pick and roll tonight. And you seemed to be more physical both with Nash and with them in general defensively, was that part of the plan and were you happy with how it worked?
COACH JACKSON: Well, it didn’t work very well for us to begin with. We got a lot of fouls to start with. And we got in foul trouble in the first three, four minutes of the game in the penalty. And I had to kind of settle them down, because it’s high energy game. We wanted to play aggressively. We did play aggressively. I thought that switching was sometimes overdone. I don’t mind at the end of a clock and the need situations, we call it. We switched a little bit too much for my tastes at some points in the game. But that’s some of the things you almost have to do against this ball club when they have their 3 point shooting lineup in.
Q. (More on Artest):
COACH JACKSON: Ron is unique. And he’s very much an individual, and I think that as the NBA goes, every player has his own kind of individual personality you have to handle in a different way. And Ron is determined. I think he’s dogged. I think that’s what makes him a great defensive player. I think sometimes he gets very locked in and focused. And sometimes he has to split his vision or get diversion to get through, break through. His play has generated a lot of energy for our team this year. This is not one of his better series right now. We hope he can break through and open up a little bit in this next game.
Q. (Andrew Bynum’s) mobility defensively seemed a lot better. Could you talk about what you thought he did on that side of the floor?
COACH JACKSON: Yeah, we had some blocked shots. I thought he was a presence out there, which is really important. Lopez hurt us in the course of these games, and particularly in Phoenix. And tonight I thought Drew played a really good game as far as the minutes he could play. He got in foul trouble the second half. Kind of limited the minutes he could play.
Lakers Guard Kobe Bryant
Q. How concerned are you that you all let an 18 point lead dissipate, gotta put back in to win the game as you head into a close out game in Phoenix, Game 6?
KOBE BRYANT: I’m concerned. We had a mental lapse. Mental lapses, in transition defense, and giving up 3 point shots and great looks when our defense had been steady pretty much all night, except for that spurt where they got back into it.
Q. You’ve been talking about defense the whole week, and how defense is more important than just scoring. Can you evaluate the defense tonight?
KOBE BRYANT: Defensively, we were terrific. We did a great job. Had a stretch there where it enabled them to get back in the game. But for the most part we did a great job.
Q. Could you describe what this means for the team and Ron for him to have the game winning shot?
KOBE BRYANT: I think it means a lot for him. You know, he’s kind of been going up and down. I think emotionally for him is a big boost.
Q. Can that be a demoralizing loss for that team, do you think?
KOBE BRYANT: Not for that team. I think that team just bounced right back. Lucy Goosey bunch. Just go out and play. I don’t think they’ll linger at all.
Q. After Games 3 and 4, both those losses, how do you feel you guys did execution wise and the things you need to take care of, get it down low, penetrate the zone?
KOBE BRYANT: We did much better, aside from that stretch that enabled them to get back in the game. We had mental lapses on Channing Frye and Dudley and transition and things like that. I mean, against this team you have to shore that up and be solid for as close to 48 minutes as possible, because if not they can get back in the game just as quickly as they were out of it.
Q. Is this the kind of game that makes a squad stronger and the ability now to go into the desert and close this thing off?
KOBE BRYANT: Well, I mean, there are a lot of things we did right. So I think it’s important for us to focus on that. As a group, you know, it’s always fun to have wins like this, at the buzzer, especially for Ron. I’m very happy for him. But we’ll leave it here and go up there and try to win one.
Q. I was going to ask you if you thought Phil acted any differently before Game 5 than he ever has, and what is it about him that put you guys in a mood that you can rebound from any disappointing performance before that?
KOBE BRYANT: He’s the same old, same old. You really couldn’t tell if it was a Game 5 or Game 7 or Game 1 or Game 1 of a regular season. His mood is always the same. His message is always the same. And I think for us it instills a stability that other teams might not have.
Q. Can you talk about the game Fisher had and what he gives you guys this time of year?
KOBE BRYANT: You know, he played fantastic. He was aggressive offensively. Took what the defense gave him. I felt defensively he did a great job. Got a couple of calls that didn’t go his way in terms of being physical defensively, but I think he played a marvelous game.
Q. Can you talk a little bit just about how if you have a little more space maybe on the inbound maybe the shot is different and Ron isn’t available to catch the ball and all that, just how little things can turn games and series and things like that over the course of a playoff?
KOBE BRYANT: It’s just amazing, you go through all this preparation and all this stuff. It comes down to just fundamental things. They knocked down a 3 pointer because we didn’t box out. They wind up losing the game because they didn’t box out. It’s just little things like that that are the difference between winning big playoff games and losing them.
Q. What did you see on that last play, after you took the shot, could you see that Ron was there? How did it unfold from where you were at?
KOBE BRYANT: I saw him coming, actually. I felt I had a good look. Grant Hill stuck his hand in there in the last second, forced me to double pump. Other than that I was going to shoot over Steve. And once I released the ball, I saw Ron sneaking in. I was just hoping that he got it off in time.