Here’s a transcription of interviews from *Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and coach Mike D’Antoni from Monday’s Lakers practice.
*Click on each name to watch the full video.
Q: On if the last two games and how the team has performed is something he envisioned at the beginning of the year:
Bryant: No, the roles are all upside down. It’s kind of hard to put the puzzle together a little bit, but it seems we’ve figured it out.
Q: On how the team changed in the last two games and what prompted this change:
Bryant: I think the team meeting was more of an emotional thing where we wanted to support each other, make sure the culture was an open culture and it’s a (competitive) culture. Even after the meeting, we had X’s and O’s that we didn’t solve. We didn’t have all the emotional positive energy you want. If you don’t execute the right way, you’re not going to win. It comes from us putting our thinking caps on and trying different things.
Q: On much more dangerous the team can be with Steve Nash off the ball:
Bryant: He’s one of the greatest shooters of all time. He’s a no-leave guy. If they do leave him, then God bless them.
Q: On his demeanor naturally being that of a scorer and if he can keep facilitating in order for the team to be successful:
Bryant: I was probably born a scorer, but I was made a winner. Whatever works, whatever wins championships, wins games, that’s what I do.
Q: On if the team has turned a corner:
Bryant: I think it’s a big confidence booster for us that we can come up with a strategy, stick to it and make adjustments throughout the course of the game against a very good team that’s been together for quite some time. It bodes well for our confidence, but it (could mean) nothing. We could come out tomorrow and lay an egg.
Q: On Pau Gasol coming off the bench:
Bryant: He’s not happy about it, but it’s just the attitude of this team. We’re just doing whatever it takes to win. It’s OK to say you’re not happy about a situation. That’s fine and that’s normal. The most important thing is that he continues to play well in that position and he’s being a consummate professional in that position, and that helps us.
Q: On what Steve Blake brings to this team:
Q: On how he’s embraced his role off the bench:
Bryant: A temper, his shooting and his playmaking. The most important thing that we’ve been missing from him is his competitiveness. He’s a feisty dude and we need that here.
Gasol: With professionalism and putting the team first. That’s the way I’ve taken it. It’s hard for any player that considers themselves one of the top players in the world to say: ‘I’m OK with coming off the bench.’ At the same time, it’s a difficult situation we’ve been dealing with here. The last two games have been great, and it’s been positive. We’re looking for that to continue, but at the same time, we don’t need any more distractions or any more negativity. We need positive embracing, focus and we need support from each other.
Q: On whose idea it was for different players to change roles:
Gasol: It was all of us understanding with the team we have and the personnel we have, it takes a lot of self-sacrificing and understanding there has to be a certain level of balance. With all the great talent we have and players that have been the main guys on their teams in their careers, you’re going to have to compromise and change your role for the betterment of the team. That’s something that each and every one of us has to do in order for this team to function.
Q: On if the last two games are any indication of what he thought the team could be like when it was first formed:
Gasol: The last couple games have shown a lot how I’d like to see our team can play. That level of unselfishness from the first player to the last, making good basketball plays for each other, finding the open guy, creating that energy for each other. That’s how I envisioned this team from Day 1. It’s taken awhile, but now we have to be consistent with it.
Q: On if he feels the team has turned a corner in the last two games:
Gasol: I think we’re in the right direction to turn the corner. Two games is too little, but they have been two meaningful games. Now we’re playing the Hornets and Phoenix (back-to-back), and it’s just as important as the Oklahoma City game, regardless of record, because of the situation we have and we’re dealing with, our record and how far back we are of the playoff spots.
Q: On if he senses a different feeling around the team:
Q: On what changed for the team in the last two games:
Gasol: Winning always helps everybody’s mood. We have to understand that if we want that to continue, we have to continue to do the same things the last couple games. Bring the same effort, same energy, same mindset and understand it’s not always going to work perfectly, but if we have that kind of game and unselfishness, it’ll go a long way.
D’Antoni: I don’t think anybody knows. It’s like throwing stuff against the wall and seeing what sticks. Everybody is trying to do the right thing, players talking it out, coaches pounding the message in. Maybe we hit rock bottom, maybe there was something from above. I think everybody’s trying to do their job and do the best they can do. Without going too far out on a limb, we can see some glimmer of hope, and we just got to keep it going.
Q: On Kobe Bryant’s play the last two games:
D’Antoni: The great thing about Kobe (Bryant) is he wants to win. I think he’s figured out with this team that he looks and sees that I have to do this. You have to give him credit for embracing whatever it takes to win.
Q: On Steve Nash moving off the ball in a position to shoot more:
D’Antoni: I like to see him in a position to shoot more, because he’s one of the best shooters in NBA history. But he will not shoot more unless that ball doesn’t move. If it moves, he will shoot more. He won’t go 1-on-1 trying to find a shot.
Q: On what sacrifices he’s seen from the team the last two games:
D’Antoni: I don’t see sacrifice as winning. Everybody’s found out a way to win and enjoy winning. The bottom line should be winning.
Q: On what he expects from Steve Blake when he returns:
D’Antoni: Toughness on defense and smarts. He’s a better shooter than what he’s shown in L.A. so far. I think his overall play is going to be good. I expect Steve to eventually work his way into it. But he’s a tough kid and we need toughness.