Monthly Archive for May, 2011

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Shannon Brown: 2010-11 Exit Interview

Shannon Brown averaged 8.7 points on 42.5 percent field goals and 34.9 percent from three with 1.2 assists, 1.9 rebounds and 0.8 steals per game. In the playoffs, he went for 7.2 points on 45.9 percent shooting and 28.0 percent from three with 1.9 rebounds, 0.7 assists and 0.6 steals.

He started the season red hot from the field, shooting 48 percent in November (45 percent from three) but his percentages went steadily down thereafter as defense adjusted, and he shot under 40 percent after the All-Star break. Below is a summary of Brown’s exit interview:

- On the frustration of the final game: “It’s very, very frustrating, and I apologized to (Phil Jackson) face-to-face, told him that was a terrible way for him to go out. I really can’t put it into words how disappointing, upset, embarrassed, frustrating it really was and it still hurts.”

- Brown, who has a player option for next season, said he isn’t sure whether he’s going to opt out of his contract or not. He’s going to try and relax with his wife, go on vacation, and talk to his agent to figure things out. He did say that he’d love to be a Laker again, but didn’t want to get into the topic. He did say that he’d “love to be a Laker again. The fans receive me well, this is a great place. La La land.”

- On Andrew Bynum’s “trust issues” comments: “When he said trust issues I think that got blown out of proportion. It basically came down to not running our offense correctly and not being on the same page on the defensive end. The way it came out was us not trusting each other, but that’s pretty much all he meant.”

- On what he’d like to work on in the offseason: “Everything, every aspect of my basketball game. I’m not one that just works on one thing. From the knowledge of the game to my shooting, to my dribbling, to my passing, to my decision making … I’m going to work on every aspect of my game and continue to get better.” He said his season was “All right.” He pointed out playing all 82 games for the second straight season, and that he’s ready for future challenges.

- On if he’s disappointed in the bench: “We had two new guys in Barnes and Blake that were still trying to learn everything about the offense and the defense, and they have their own personal basketball knowledge, but when you talk about playing in the triangle and our principles about basketball are a little bit different than other places. I think they were still trying to figure that out, and as far as the whole bench together, we were working hard as a team … it was just we couldn’t quite get over that hump.”

- Brown described his vacation plans as “A little something of everywhere.”

- On Phil Jackson: “He’s taught me so much. He allowed me to showcase my talents to the world … he had that confidence in me. He let me play through mistakes and everything. I just really can’t explain what he’s done for me and my basketball career.”

- Brown’s impression from his meeting was that Mitch Kupchak is “definitely try to get to the bottom of why” the team lost.

- On dealing with what he called the “humiliation” of losing: “Friends, family, staying away from the negativity because I have a bad temper. Really just trying to stay in my own element and focus on the future. It’s definitely still a disbelief. Waking up and not having to go to practice or shootaround, going to a game. I haven’t been watching any basketball games, just trying to really figure it out.”

Ron Artest: 2010-11 Exit Interview

Ron Artest averaged 8.5 points on 39.7 percent shooting with 3.2 rebounds, 2.1 assists and a team-best 1.5 steals while starting all 82 games. In the postseason, he added 10.6 points on 44.3 percent shooting with 4.6 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.1 steals.

He was the team’s best perimeter defender, and as many coaches and players around the league would say, still one of the league’s best on the defensive end. Below is a summary of his exit interview:

- On Phil Jackson’s last game: “Muhammad Ali is one of the greatest ever and he lost his last fight.”

- Summing the season up: “I’m proud of Luke, (Bynum*) Lamar, Fisher, Kobe and Gasol. They did what not many people have done, they went to the championship three years in a row. We had six people play 82 games that probably should have sat some games. We were ready to fight, but I think our legs were gone. They played almost 400 something games the last three years. A lot of the guys that are (playing) now were home in April the last couple of years. A lot of teams that are still in it, even the veterans weren’t making it as far as the Lakers was. This year was unfortunate, but I’d be more than happy to go to battle with these guys again.”
*Artest actually said “Pau” there, but we’ll assume he meant Bynum, instead of accounting twice for the Spaniard even though Bynum missed the 2008 playoffs.

- On how difficult it is to hold hungry teams off as the champions: “As a team, when you think about what they’ve done … (and) Kobe’s done it twice, he went to the Finals three times in a row twice, and I’m sure he’ll be there again. When you think about the future, (there is) a reason to be excited, to be motivated. Dallas … everybody wanted to beat the Lakers, and sometimes teams come to L.A. and they don’t have a worry on their mind. They come into L.A. and they feel free, they have nothing to lose. We lose to teams like Cleveland and Minnesota that has nothing to lose and come in and beat us, and then when you get an actual good team that’s playing with nothing to lose? Everybody wants to beat the Lakers … it was tough. You just gotta come back stronger.”

- Artest said he did not attempt to hit J.J. Barea in the face, which caused his suspension for Game 3. He was reaching out for a foul, and, in his words: “The guy’s 5’2” … I’m reaching down, there’s only so much more down I can go. His face was right in my hand. It was very unfortunate. Whatever happened was just unfortunate, it was uncalled for.”

- On what the team needs to win a championship next year: “I think this sweep helped. It’s humbling. To move in the right direction, get that hunger back.” Artest was asked if the team can respond without major changes, and he was convinced in the affirmative.

- On his individual season: “I think in the playoffs I played good. I started out playing well. My defense was pretty good. I played a good role. I showed I can score the ball, but that’s not my role on this team. When I came here I sacrificed money, and I sacrificed scoring*. I can play any role. I was licking my chops when I saw (Shawn) Marion and (Peja) Stojakovic on me, I would have loved to give those guys 30, but it’s not my role.

Artest on Phil Jackson: “It was fun. He’s a team coach. There’s nothing more than you can ask for, when you’re coaching 15 guys, the No. 1 priority is the 15 guys. I think he did a good job of stressing to us to play together, butt we didn’t execute his vision this year.”

- On his offseason goals: “Stay in the gym. I stay in the gym all year round. Once I leave here I’m going right to the gym, and get started. That’s exciting, to have something to shoot for.” And he did, literally, walk through the door into the gym, his practice clothes already on. Understated on a team with Kobe Bryant, notorious through his career as a gym rat (though his injuries prevented him from practicing much this season), was the fact that Artest basically lives in the gym.

Steve Blake: 2010-11 Exit Interview

In his first season as a Laker, Steve Blake averaged 4.0 points, 2.2 assists and 1.9 boards on 35.9 percent shooting and 37.8 percent from three in 20 minutes per game, focusing on running the offense. In the playoffs, he averaged 2.2 points and 2.2 assists on 30.4 percent field goals and made 6-of-18 threes (33.3 percent) in 16.1 minutes per game.

Below is a summary of his exit interview:

On losing to Dallas: “It’s extremely frustrating. Not only to lose, but just lose the way (we did). (Dallas) played great, made a lot of shots, took advantage of our mistakes. But at the same time, it’s tough to know how good you really are as a team with the coaches we have and still go down that way. It was tough.”

On trying to find a comfort zone: “I never really felt like I got to be playing the best that I could be. There were some points that I did. I can’t really explain why, but I was comfortable. I loved my teammates, loved the coaches. I just never really found my stride and continued in it. I just had stretches.”

On the triangle offense: “It’s a little different for the point guard. It was something I definitely had to get used to. If we still ran it, I’d have the whole summer to really work on the aspects that the triangle uses from the point guard position. Whether we run it or we run something different next year I’ll be better either way, just cause I’ll have the whole summer to work on where I know I can be effective in the triangle offense, or if we play a different style, I’m definitely up for that as well.”

Andrew Bynum: 2010-11 Exit Interview

Andrew Bynum averaged 11.3 points on 57.4 percent shooting, 9.4 rebounds and 2.0 blocks in 54 regular season games, missing the first 24 while recovering from offseason knee surgery. He was the defensive anchor of L.A.’s system, designed to funnel players his way, which worked particularly well in the team’s 17-1 burst out of the All-Star break but faltered in the Western Conference Semi Finals against Dallas.

In the playoffs, Bynum upped his numbers to 14.4 points on 54.3 percent shooting with 9.6 rebounds and 1.4 blocks in 10 games, averaging a double-double in Round 1 and finishing his season healthier than the previous two, with no offseason operations needed.

Below is a summary of his exit interview at the team’s practice facility on Tuesday:

- Bynum opened with a statement to apologize for the Flagrant 2 foul he committed on J.J. Barea in the fourth quarter:

Number one, I want to apologize for my actions at the start of the 4th quarter in Dallas in Game 4. They don’t represent me, my upbringing, this franchise, or any of the Laker fans out there that want to watch us and watch us succeed. Furthermore and more importantly, I want to actually apologize to J.J. Barea for doing that. I’m just glad he wasn’t seriously injured in the event, and all I could say is, I looked at it, it’s terrible and it definitely won’t happen again. I went and I watched it, and it was terrible. Sometimes you just have to man up and own it, and that’s what happened. It’s that simple.

- On he talked about with GM Mitch Kupchak at his exit interview: “We just talked about how I can become a better player. I have some work to do, I have some natural skills, I have some size. Mentally I’m going to go into the summer, prepare and try to add a couple of moves to my game, come back in better shape and being healthy.”

- On his role: “My role on this team was to be a defensive force and get as many rebounds as I can. Defense and rebounds for me are the most important aspect of what I can bring to this team. Offensively for me, this series and throughout the playoffs, I was just being more aggressive, just trying to give us a solid option. I did a decent job at that, but it wasn’t enough.” He added that he’s going to work in the offseason to continue to be a bigger part of the team.

- On trust issues: “I really just think that we weren’t out there all doing it together.” He’d go on to say later that he didn’t think the team was unable to find that cohesion on defense. He didn’t think the defense changed too much, but said the Lakers didn’t adjust as other teams (specifically Dallas) planned for it.

- His goals for offseason: “I want to come back with strong legs, a strong base, some quick moves and how to deal with a double team. I’m going to watch a lot of film … I need to understand how to get the ball out in those situations (through double teams) … Maybe use some cunning, become a smart basketball player (on defense).”

- Finally, important news for Bynum, and the Lakers, that this is the first offseason he’s entering in four seasons without any injuries that need to be attended to: “It’s going to change greatly how I approach the summer because I’m going to be able to work on my own. I don’t have to go through rehab, I don’t have to sit down for four months … physically I feel great, I have no injuries going into the summer. On that note, I’m definitely looking forward to becoming a better player.”

Exit Interview Schedule

Below is the schedule for exit interviews over the next two days:

9:00 – Andrew Bynum – Video
9:30 – Ron Artest – Video
10:00 – Steve Blake – Video
10:30 – Shannon Brown – Video
11:00 – Luke Walton – Video
11:30 – Derek Fisher – Video

1:00 – Pau Gasol – Video
1:30 – Theo Ratliff – Video
2:00 – Joe Smith – Video
2:30 – Devin Ebanks – Video
3:00 – Trey Johnson – Video
3:30 – Derrick Caracter

10:00 – Kobe Bryant
10:30 – Matt Barnes
11:00 – Lamar Odom

After Lamar, Mitch Kupchak will meet with the media and then Phil Jackson.

Phil Jackson Postgame Quotes

Phil Jackson’s postgame quotes from what he said will be his final game:

“Well I don’t think I’ve seen a team play to that level in a series in a game like they played this afternoon. They [Dallas] were terrific. I didn’t think we played bad to start the ballgame, but that second quarter it was like the roof fell in on us. I wasn’t happy with the way our players exited the game, on Lamar [Odom’s] and Andrew’s [Bynum’s] part. It was unnecessary, but I know they were frustrated. And Barea was one of the guys that really frustrated us tonight. Other than that the Lakers will have to go back and put it back together, again, to have a team that comes back and challenges next year.”

(Are you stunned that 6 days ago the Lakers were being talked about as the favorite to win the West and her you’re sitting now?) – No, I’m not. I think I told you guys all along that Dallas is a very good team. We had the same record they had during the season. And they played better as a team than we did.”

(Were you worried after New Orleans gave you such a hassle in the first round that this might happen?) – “No, there’s a way we can play that we can win ballgames. We had to play a style that was refined and a pace that was ours. We were able to do that for three-and-half quarters in both the first and the third games in the series, but we weren’t able to finish them off. That’s the difference. Perhaps Dallas is a little deeper team, a little more talented off the bench than we were and it came to bear during the course of these playoffs.”

(Have you coached your final game, if so what are the emotions of the moment?) – “[It] feels really good to be ending this season to be honest with you. I came back this last year with some trepidation. Kobe’s knee was an issue and obviously our team was older. The thrill of trying to chase a three-peat is always an exciting thing. But, yes, I knew it was a big challenge for this team to three-peat. We’ve gone to the Finals and to go back twice and win it after losing ’08 puts a lot of strain on the basketball club from all angles: personalities, spiritually, physically, emotionally, and getting charged up for game after game and assault after assault when you go in and play a team. So, it was a challenge bigger that we could beat this year.”

(And you final game I assume? Was this your last game?) – “I haven’t answered that, have I? And you’re not going to force me to answer it. But, yes, this is in all my hopes and aspirations that this is the final game that I’ll coach. This has been a wonderful run. I go out with a sour note after being fined $35,000 this morning by the league, so that’s not fun having a feeling like I’ve been chased down the freeway by them. But as Richard Nixon says, ‘You won’t be able to kick this guy around anymore.’”

(You’re not a sentimental guy, but what did you tell the guys in the locker room right now?) – “That we’re disappointed in the way we finished the game. We wanted to have a good game. I didn’t like the way Andrew and Lamar finished like I mentioned just now. We ran into a buzz saw today. Sometimes you can’t get a win. You’d like to have an opportunity to challenge but we didn’t.”

Lakers 86, Mavs 122 : Game 4 Running Diary

Below is a running diary of L.A.’s Sunday afternoon Game 4 road playoff contest at Dallas, the Lakers looking to begin to dig out of a 3-0 hole in the Western Semi’s, with some comments drawn from our @LakersReporter Twitter account, and a few more details in case you missed any of the action:

Lakers: Fisher, Bryant, Artest, Gasol and Bynum
Mavs: Kidd, Stevenson, Marion, Nowitzki, Chandler

12:00 A few signs that the Lakers were loose despite the dire circumstances: Lamar Odom and I had a conversation about Starburst flavors, with a bag full of the candy littered around his locker. We agreed that red and pink are by far the best. Meanwhile, Pau Gasol was in good spirits while watching his home town team, F.C. Barcelona, go up 2-0 in a Spanish soccer game. But the Lakers had been similarly loose before Game 3, leaving us with no real conclusions as to how things would go.

6:36 Just like in Game 3, L.A. came out controlling the pace in Dallas, going up 11-8 when Bryant hit his third early field goal. But the Mavs had already attempted four three-pointers, and despite hitting only one, and were making sure L.A. didn’t follow its plan to run them off the line in the first place. A sign of things to come?

2:53 It was all Kobe early for L.A., scoring 11 of his team’s first 17 points. He made 5-of-6 field goals while getting good separation from Jason Kidd for his jumper, Kidd content to keep Kobe out of the paint. Dallas, however, continued to get open looks from three, hitting 4-of-7 in the quarter (three coming in transition), seemingly baffling the Lakers defensively, to open a 27-23 lead after one.

10:22 The second couldn’t have started much worse for L.A., who gave up another three (Terry), then turned the ball over (Odom) to give the Mavs a layup and a 5-0 run. Jackson immediately removed Odom and Matt Barnes for Gasol and Bryant, showing limited patience in the first elimination game L.A. had seen since Game 6 in Boston in 2008.

6:42 OK, it got worse. The Lakers looked stunned watching Dallas hit 9-of-10 shots to open the second quarter, including four three-pointers, contested or not, with back-to-back triples from Terry (5-for-5, 15 points) and Peja Stojakovic (stepping into a time machine) that opened a 50-32 lead. Dallas was shooting 64 percent overall.

1:00 Bynum missed a layup. Then another. Gasol missed a tip from a foot away. Barnes missed a wide-open three. On the other end, Stojakovic nailed a three … then Terry nailed a three, the 11th in 15 attempts, equaling the total number of triples made for L.A. in the entire series. The Lakers barely had time to catch their breath, and couldn’t even create some hope to close the half, as Gasol missed a wide-open tip layup for the second time in the final two minutes. That made L.A.’s big man trio 4-of-13. The score, as such, was 63-39, L.A.’s season on life support.

7:07 Were the Lakers finally building something? The Mavs were missing for the first time in, well, a long time, and Artest outscoring the home team 7-2 in the first four minutes. Ron Ron then came up with a steal, but missed a wide-open, 1-on-0 layup, losing the ball on the way up, on a play that would have cut the lead to 17 points. Instead, Terry continued to play NBA JAM, nailing back-to-back threes to reach 8-of-9, himself. Literally. As in, four fewer three-pointers in this game than L.A. had made all series. Lead at 25, dynasty almost dead.

1:53 Since we haven’t talked much about the Mavs hitting threes in this one, we should mention that Terry hit his ninth (just tying an NBA playoff record) and Stojakovic his fourth. The two had combined to miss a grand total of one of their combined 14 attempts, making the team 15-for-23 (65 percent).

0:00 With the Mavs still bombing away, it didn’t really matter that the Lakers had looked a bit better on offense, matching Dallas with 23 points in the period, as the score was 86-62. And here we headed into what could be the final 12 minutes of the greatest coaching career in NBA history, and L.A.’s chance at the historic three-peat.

8:21 The only real way for the game, and season, to get worse for the Lakers was a loss of composure. But that’s exactly what happened. Odom took exception to Nowitzki swatting away his extra free throw attempt, and delivered a shoulder charge at the other end that really just knocked Dirk off balance, and wasn’t particularly dirty. Nonetheless, he was tossed with a flagrant two foul. What was surely extremely disappointing for Jackson in his last game, however, was to see Bynum go a step further, leveling Barea on a drive without attempting to play the ball. Bynum, tossed immediately, removed his shirt and walked directly to the locker room, free throws making it 101-68 Dallas.

4:19 Bryant had checked out moments earlier with 17 points, and with 4:19 left, Artest was the last starter to check out, L.A. down 114-80, the bench emptied to mercifully end what was one of the more painful games in Lakers history.

0:00 The final: Mavs 122, Lakers 86, L.A.’s hopes of a three-peat, of sending Jackson out in remarkable style, were no more.

1 Time since Pau Gasol became a Laker in February of 2008 that L.A. would not advance to the NBA Finals. Gasol, struggling uncharacteristically throughout the series, finished with 10 points, eight boards and six assists.

9 Three-pointers hit by Jason Terry in 10 attempts, the greatest long-range shooting performance in NBA history (matching the record most recently hit by Ray Allen).

11 Coaching championships for Phil Jackson, whose fourth three-peat was not to be.

17 Points for Kobe Bryant on 7-of-18 field goals, only one of which came after his 6-for-8 first quarter.

20 Threes hit in the game by the Mavs to match an NBA playoff record. Along with Terry’s nine, Dallas got 6-of-6 from Peja Stojakovic. The Lakers, who hit five triples in this one, had only 15 in the entire series, five fewer than Dallas hit in Game 4 alone.

Phil Jackson Fined $35,000

The NBA announced on Sunday morning that Phil Jackson was fined $35,000 for “public comments about the officiating,” according to Stu Jackson, league Executive Vice President, Basketball Operations.

Jackson’s comments came prior to Saturday’s practice, when he took issue with how Pau Gasol was being defended throughout the playoffs.

Lakers Focus Only on Game 4

Everyone knows what’s on the line.

The three-peat … Phil Jackson’s almost ridiculous quest for a fourth three-peat in his final season … legendary status in NBA annals … Kobe Bryant chasing Michael Jordan’s sixth title … and so on, and so forth.

But with two games against Dallas that L.A. couldn’t finish, and another where they had nothing close to their “A” game, the Lakers are suddenly and shockingly in a 3-0 hole, needing four straight wins against an excellent, veteran, hungry Mavericks team just to escape the Western Semi’s.

And as you may have heard just once or twice, no team in league history has done that before, even if the Red Sox and three NHL squads managed to pull off the hugely improbable, which Lamar Odom and Kobe Bryant respectively pointed out.

But the one constant theme from Saturday’s Lakers practice at American Airlines Arena had nothing to do with talk of massive comebacks, of coaching legacies or of opportunities blown.

Jackson was asked if his players might get caught up in all of it, but he answered that it’s simply about Sunday.

“They’re fine,” he said. “They’re ready to go out and win this game and they’re not thinking about anything else. I told them not to think about (3-0). That’s not what you’re thinking about. You’re thinking about winning tomorrow’s game, forcing another game in L.A. on Tuesday … It’s just in the moment type activity.”

Then Kobe Bryant repeated Jackson’s message. So on with Andrew Bynum. And then Pau Gasol.

It’s the Spaniard, of course, that’s had his most difficult stretch of games as a Laker since joining the team in 2008. He’s averaging 13.3 points and 9.7 rebounds in Round 2, down from 18.8 and 10.2 in the regular season, and shooting only 42.9 percent, which stands out for a career 52.2 percent shooter. Gasol acknowledged that he’s struggling mentally to deal with a slump he said is unprecedented in his career, but Jackson did have one basketball explanation.

“They’re taking him out of the post so he can’t get a tight post spot,” he explained. “Pau’s got to move out and face the basket, and play more of a pinch post and active role in screen rolls. He’s obviously frustrated that he couldn’t get anything accomplished in there, but his defense was I thought exceptional last night.”

There was no lack of respect for how well Dallas has played, and in particular, has finished games (“They made it happen, you have to give them credit,” said Phil). But the Lakers think they played the game they wanted to, save for the final and fatal few minutes.

Jackson thinks getting Ron Artest back off his Game 3 suspension will help restore the team’s favored rotations, leaving Odom and Gasol in particular more energy for crunch time. Meanwhile, the primary defensive adjustment L.A. tried to make in Game 3 but couldn’t accomplish is to run Dallas off the three-point line, which worked a few times but ultimately resulted in the Mavs hitting 12 three-pointers, five of which (gulp) came in the fourth quarter.

Jackson has no problem if his players are worrying about such details as defensive rotations or offensive ball movement … as long as they’re not thinking about anything ahead of Sunday.

It’s Game 4, and Game 4 alone.

Phil Jackson Postgame 3 Quotes

Below is a transcription of Phil Jackson’s comments after L.A.’s 98-92 loss to Dallas in Game 3 of the Western Conference Semi Finals:

(Opening statement)
Jackson: Again, as in Game 1, they finished better than we did. That was the difference in the ball game. They got to the foul line in the second half and we didn’t. They made some threes in the fourth quarter and we didn’t. They deserved to win and we didn’t.

Q: You were animated during timeouts. What were you telling your guys?
Jackson: I thought we were spending too much energy instead of just playing the game and just playing through things.

Q: At one point you hit Pau in the chest. What did you say to him?
Jackson: He grabbed the ball in the half court and wasn’t aware that he was holding it in the position we always ask him not to put it in and Terry took it from behind and went down and got a layup. I was just making sure he understood he needed to take care of the basketball in those sequences.

Q: Do you feel you can get a full, solid game from Pau the next game or is his confidence level shaky?
Jackson: Well, he’s been through enough playoffs games to know the deal that you can come back and play games. Tonight Andrew was the guy that again in the first half, the strength of our ball club. We wanted to take advantage of that, so Pau didn’t have that many opportunities. And tonight, I’m sure he’d like to have a couple of them back at the end of the game.”

Q: Your reaction to going down 3-0:
Jackson: “Well we’re disappointed. We felt like Games 1 and 3 we controlled the pace of the game, but just couldn’t finish the game. They were better finishing the games out than we were, so that’s a big disappointment to us. But we still believe we’re going to win the next game, and we’ll go from there.

Q: On getting Ron Artest back:
Jackson: Yeah, we can use Ron. We hope he’s back playing his game. One of the things tonight that hurt us was the rotation to the three point line covering that. It’s tough for our bigger guys. Lamar had seven opportunities, and some of our other guys had opportunities, but they didn’t get out to cover that line.

Q: What do you tell you team being down 3-0?
Jackson: We just said that we didn’t finish the game well, that we’re disappointed in our ability to cover the line. That we double-teamed Nowitzki ineffectively and irrationally a couple of times at the end of the game, which is something we don’t want to do. He matched up with Gasol on him. If we come back and play the same game we’re going to win another game. We played too well to lose, is what I said.