Quote Round Up: Thursday Practice

Here’s a transcription of interviews from coach Mike D’Antoni, Steve Nash, Pau Gasol, Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard from Thursday’s Lakers practice.

*Click on each name to watch the video.

MIKE D’ANTONI
Q: On having consecutive days of practice and what it will do for the team:
D’Antoni: The biggest thing is getting Pau (Gasol) back 100 percent and Steve Nash. Today was a good step forward. Trying to put it together and see what problems arise, but I’m more excited at what we saw today.

Q: On Nash returning on Christmas Day:
D’Antoni: Whatever day he returns will be Christmas.

Q: On how Steve Nash looked in practice:
D’Antoni: He looked good, real good. You never know how he wakes up. The first step was good and positive, he looks good on the floor, he said he felt good. We’ll wait till tomorrow to see if he can do it again and just build on it from there.

Q: On Nash’s conditioning:
D’Antoni: He’s got a pretty good motor. It will maybe depend a lot on that, but he looked good out there – just as good as the rest of the guys. He wasn’t huffing and puffing that much.

Q: On any limitations with Nash when he gets back:
D’Antoni: That will depend on Gary (Vitti) if he tells me yes. I doubt if they will. He’ll give me the nod if he needs a blow.

Q: On keeping MWP at the power forward spot:
D’Antoni: Probably. I like where he is and it helps us to play him at the four and move those guys around. He’s going to play some three, but I don’t know as a starter or not. He’s OK with either role. There will be certain matchups where he has to start – OKC, for example, with Kevin Durant – so there will be times that he starts.

STEVE NASH
Q: On returning Saturday at Golden State:
Nash: Potentially. It depends how well I respond today and then tomorrow again see how I go. We don’t really need to rush. I don’t want to come back too soon, although that’s the tendency. You want to come back as soon as possible, but I don’t want to miss another 10 games because I aggravated something.

Q: On if he feels any pain:
Nash: There’s a fair amount of pain but I think that’s going to be the case for a month or so even when I play. I was in a really tough spot being that the fracture is in the joint, so it’s a little tricky.

Nash: The pain is not the issue. I don’t mind playing through pain. It’s more: ‘Am I doing damage to it and is that going to prevent me from playing the rest of the season?’ We just have to measure that as the next day-and-a-half or two days go by.

Q: On his conditioning level:
Nash: Obviously, I’m not in great condition after being pretty inactive for seven weeks, but that’s just the harsh reality. It’s going to be a period where I try to get myself not only back in shape, but try to find my game, rhythm and timing.

Q: On if while sitting out there was anything that changed his thoughts about this team:
Nash: No, I always thought this was a team that had great potential, and I still do. Without a training camp, a lot of new players and a new coach, it’s going to take us time to understand what we’re trying to accomplish at both ends – ingrain new habits and details and when we do that, we’ll take off.

Q: On if there’s any unknown regarding his injury still:
Nash: The fracture is the majority of it. I still have some nerve issues, but the fracture being in the joint, it’s a painful area.

Q: On his expectations when coming back:
Nash: First and foremost, I want to try and help the team win games and stay healthy to see if I can build myself back into shape. If I can stay healthy and get myself back in shape while helping the team, I’ll worry about tangible goals as far as wins and things like that afterwards. But now I just want to come back, help the team and get myself in a situation where I’m strong and in shape enough to finish the season.

Q: On any positives he’s seen with the team this season:
Nash: We’ve had moments. We’ve definitely proved certain things. We’ve been very inconsistent. It’s really difficult, because like I said, new players, new coach, new offense, no training camp and most of the time, not enough bodies to practice. It’s a difficult thing to learn in film and walkthroughs.

Q: On when he plans to return:
Nash: No plan. I just want to try and get through today, see how I feel in the morning. If I’m able to, practice tomorrow and see how I feel Saturday. I think Christmas is probably the most realistic.

Q: On if his conditioning will take weeks to get back:
Nash: Yeah, there’s no way to duplicate playing a basketball game. It’s probably going to take me awhile unfortunately.

Q: On if he feels the team knows their roles yet:
Nash: It’s going to take time. With their roles, it’s more the details of what coach wants, so that’s going to take time. It’s hard to define exactly what roles are because we’re not a finished product. It’s evolving still.

Q: On if he feels he’s rushing back:
Nash: The tendency is to rush back, but at the same time, you have to be careful. I don’t want to rush back, play two games and then be out for an extended period of time.

Q: On if he feels this is the beginning of the season for him:
Nash: Yeah, this is my preseason right now, especially with a new coach, you can wash away the first preseason. (I had) seven weeks off. This is it, so hopefully it’s onward from here.

PAU GASOL
Q: On how important it is for a team to know their roles:
Gasol: It gives you stability, it gives you a mindset and it gives you consistency. There are no surprises and no ups and downs that way.

Q: On if the team understands their roles yet:
Gasol: We’re getting there, we’re getting here. We’re getting our pieces back now and hopefully we’ll get some consistency and a path aligned that we want to follow and build on every single game.

Q: On if the team had that understanding among each other last year:
Gasol: In spurts. Not consistently last year. I remember a bunch of games, we’d play really well for a quarter or two and give up big leads and end up losing some games. That was just a bad sign throughout the year even though we finished third in the conference. Still, it wasn’t good enough for us to get to the playoffs and get that consistency – and it happened to us in the playoffs, too.

Q: On how important it is to have two days straight of practice:
Gasol: A lot knowing the circumstances and taking into account we’re getting Steve (Nash) back. I need this practice, too. We need it as a group and as a unit. After the tough schedule of being on the road two weeks straight, it feels good to be home and being able to work on things.

Q: On what Steve Nash’s return will do for his game:
Gasol: I think he’ll change everybody’s game a little bit because of his facilitating skills and he’s such an unselfish player that he’ll find the open guy and he’ll make the right play. He’ll create a flow for us offensively and it’ll give us energy. That’ll translate to good defensive possessions, too, and it’ll cut down on transition points.

Q: On how his knees feel:
Gasol: They feel better, they feel better. I’m feeling better as I go along since I stopped playing. Every day feels a little better, I feel a little stronger, I feel more confident I can put a load on them and move faster.

Q: On if this time helps where the schedule is not as condensed:
Gasol: It helps, it helps. The season goes that way sometimes. You get a week or two that you have a crazy amount of games and then you get a break where you can recuperate, work on some things and heal up. This is one of the moments that we need to take advantage of working things out, getting back into a good rhythm and getting guys back and into good shape.

Q: On the schedule being positive considering Nash’s return:
Gasol: Yeah, like I said, it’s good timing for that matter.

Q: On if it feels like the season is starting now with Nash returning:
Gasol: Yes and no, because obviously, we’ve been through almost two month of the season, and there’s been a lot going on during those two months. It’s not like we’ve been at home or working on our own, but it feels good to have Steve (Nash) back, and get everybody healthy. When we get the other Steve (Blake) back, that’ll help also, too.

KOBE BRYANT
Q: On what he sees from the team that leads him to believe they can turn it around:
Kobe: We’re playing much better. The last three games, we’ve been playing much better. We’re moving the ball a lot better and playing with a lot better energy.

Q: On if he can see the light at the end of the tunnel:
Kobe: It’s kind of been a long year. We’ve had a lot of ups and downs. Now, things are starting to stabilize a little bit for us.

Q: On how Steve Nash looked in practice:
Kobe: He looked fine, he looked fine. He looked just like he normally looked after coming off an injury. You kind of inch along a little bit, see what you can get away with. He kind of tested the waters a bit, but he looked good.

DWIGHT HOWARD
Q: On having consecutive days of practice and what it will do for the team:
Dwight: These are good days for us to get in and battle each other, work through the offense and work on defense. It was the first day we had everybody on the floor in awhile, so it was good to have. I think overall we had a great practice.

Q: On how Steve Nash looked in practice:
Dwight: Steve looked great. It looked like he didn’t miss a step. I’m happy he’s getting healthy and happy he’s having an opportunity to practice. It’ll be good for us.

Q: On what Nash’s return will do for his game:
Dwight: Just the pick and roll. He knows how to get the ball in the right spot. Today, he hit me with a pass that I hadn’t got hit with since I’ve been here. Not any offense to the guys that have been playing, but he makes some tough passes.

Q: On how he gets everybody on the same page on defense:
Dwight: We just have to keep practicing. One thing everybody is understanding what we have to do on defense. Today, everybody did a good job of helping the helper. Our pick and roll defense was good today, and we’re learning. It’s a process and the best thing we can do to get out of this is talk to each other and talk to each other, and we’ve been doing that.

Dwight: The biggest thing is communicating with the guys and letting them know where to be. It’s not about cracking the whip or getting upset because it is a learning process and I want them to really understand what we have to do on the defensive end. We’ll be able to put point sin the board. It’s about getting back – our transition defense has to be a lot better. That’s where teams do most of their scoring against us. We have to make sure we get back and load up.

Dwight: It’s all about will and being in the right position. You have to know where to help, when to help how to close out. There are certain things you have to know, and it takes time to get it. We could talk about it everyday, we could show film, but you have to really practice it, and we’re doing that.