Quote Round Up: Thursday Practice

ts_130321gasol670Here’s a transcription of interviews from Dwight Howard, Mike D’Antoni and Steve Nash from Thursday’s practice in advance of the Lakers matchup with Washington on Friday. Pau Gasol also addressed the media, and “expects” to play for the first time since tearing his plantar fascia on Feb. 5 at Brooklyn.

*Click on each name to watch the full video.

Q: On how Pau Gasol looked in practice today:
Howard: He looked good. He made some good plays, he was moving his feet on defense and he’s getting in better shape.

Q: On having Gasol back and what it means to him:
Howard: It’s another big. When he was out, besides myself, our front line was very small. With him being out there now, we have an opportunity to do a better job of playing inside out. He’s a great passer from the post and the perimeter, so it means a lot to have him back.

Q: On what Gasol will bring to the table now that he’s healthy:
Howard: He’s a 7-footer. He’s down there blocking shots, rebounding and making it tough for guys to score. It’s good for me. It was kind of tough for Earl (Clark) and Antawn (Jamison) to play down there against some (bigger) guys cause they’re used to being on the perimeter. It gives Earl the opportunity to go back and play guys on the perimeter and leave (Pau and myself) in the paint to protect it.

Q: On what the team needs to work on defensively heading into the final stretch of the year:
Howard: Just our rotations. Communication is very important. Now that we’re getting everybody back in our lineup, we can really build the chemistry we’ve been trying to build all year, so this is great.

Q: On their matchup with the Washington Wizards:
Howard: They’re a tough team. They have a lot of bigs. They have some very fast point guards, so it’s going to be a tough game. You can’t look at their record and where they are and come in lackadaisical. You have to play against these guys. They can score, these guys can defend and they’re a pretty good team.

Q: On if his mindset changes with Gasol coming back:
Howard: Not at all. Just continue to play my game, block shots, rebound and bring a lot of energy.

Q: On the bench production as of late:
Howard: Just getting opportunities to score and they’re taking advantage of the minutes they have. We’re playing together. That’s the biggest thing. We’re looking for each other, finding each other and we have to continue to do that for the rest of the season moving into the playoffs.

Q: On getting Gasol back and if it changes what has been working for the team thus far:
Howard: Not at all. It’s only going to add to what we’ve been doing having a guy like Pau back. Continue to move the ball, continue to play inside out and we’ll be fine. I think having him back is a plus. We’re happy that he’s back. We’re happy to have Kobe (Bryant) come back. We’re looking forward to all of us being on the court together.

Q: On having everybody back healthy and if it gives a boost to the team:
Howard: It does. Just having everybody back is something we’ve been looking forward to. We’ve had to play games with different lineups, but it’s only made our team stronger, so having everybody back is a big plus. We’re looking forward to finishing the rest of the season on a high note, going into the playoffs and then make a big push.

Q: On what kept him staying positive despite all the circumstances:
Howard: As basketball players, we understand we’re going to have ups and downs during the season. Things might not go as planned, but you have to keep your head in the right place and think good thoughts. All of us have had that mentality since we’ve been here of just winning a championship. Earlier in the season, it probably didn’t seem like it since we’ve been through so much. But inside the locker room, we had one goal. All of us want to win a championship and we kept that in the back of our heads throughout all the adversity.

Q: On having nearly a full lineup against Washington:
D’Antoni: I’m looking forward to it. That’s the lineup if we’re going to do any damage has to happen. We can’t lose any games. At the same time, we have to keep progressing and getting better. We have a month of getting better and winning games. We put ourselves in this position so we have to do it.

Q: On their matchup with the Washington Wizards:
D’Antoni: They’re playing well. The speed of John Wall, they have a lot of guys that can score and (Martell) Webster is shooting the ball really well. They went into Phoenix and won, and we didn’t do that. We have to pay attention and play well or we’re not going to beat them.

Q: On stopping John Wall:
D’Antoni: Make sure we get back and don’t turn the ball over is the biggest thing. We have to run back and be conscious of ‘here he comes,’ and make sure you guard him with five guys.

Q: On if Gasol will start tomorrow:
D’Antoni: I haven’t decided 100 percent, but he basically will, so whether it’s tomorrow, the next day or the day after, we’ll figure that out.

Q: On the defensive issues with Dwight and Pau earlier in the season compared to now regarding everybody’s health and if he feels more comfortable now:
D’Antoni: Definitely. I think there were two issues we had to factor in. I don’t think Dwight was 100 percent. Now with him 100 percent, that helps. I don’t think Pau was 100 percent earlier in the year. That alone will help. I don’t think Metta (World Peace) was 100 percent. He was having trouble guarding guys on the perimeter, so we had a lot of breakdowns. They’ve kind of corrected themselves lately, but Pau has to get back in conditioning. Metta is good on the perimeter and Dwight is patrolling the middle, so we should be very good defensively.

Q: On how Gasol looked in practice:
Nash: He looked good. He was moving well. He looked like he had a lot of energy. Hopefully, he can feel good tomorrow and play.

Q: On how Bryant looked in practice:
Nash: Kobe looked good, too. He got into a rhythm and played well. It didn’t look like (his ankle) was bothering him.

Q: On their matchup with the Washington Wizards:
Nash: Young, athletic, energetic team. They obviously have John Wall and some big guys (Nene Hilario and Emeka Okafor), and they have some shooters. They’re young, but capable of beating some good teams this year.