Here’s the latest round of Q&A with the Lakers. The news today is about injuries and, really, when isn’t it? Lamar Odom hyperextended his left elbow in Game 3 but is considered probable for Sunday. It probably won’t be issue but remember, Odom is left-handed. Also, Luke Walton dislocated his right pinky finger in practice. He taped it up and kept shooting, so that shouldn’t be a problem.
The team had the right attitude today. They were pleased with the victory but they know there’s still a ton of work to be done, especially since the Suns will adjust to the things the Lakers did in Game 3.
[How can you keep up the consistency, so you can maintain this level as a team?]
We just have to stop the ball. That’s the key for us, to stop the ball and keep them out of the paint. Hopefully we can keep doing that and hopefully Amare doesn’t keep shooting at such a high percentage from the outside. That’s what we’re trying to do.
[How much did it help, going inside so much?]
Even if we don’t score, it just allows us to get back on defense than when we take jump shots. If we take jump shots we have to chase Barbosa down and that’s pretty tough to do, because the ball is going to come out long.
[People have been saying that you're a key to the series. Did it feel good to have such a good effort?]
I think we all feel that way. Defense is key to us. We’ve got a guy who can score 80 points, so we definitely don’t have to worry about offense. If we can play solid on defense, we’ll be alright.
[They seemed to be leaving you alone a lot more. Was it just them doubling Kobe?]
That’s what happens. When Kobe is scoring the ball you have to go to him. That allows us to get some easy buckets.
[Did you try some new stuff against them? It seemed like the trapping was a big help]
We sat back in the first two games and allowed Nash to penetrate and do whatever he wanted. When we took the ball out of his hands, it kind of rattled him.
[It seemed like you kind of rattled them a little]
They’ll make their adjustments and they’ll be ready for the fourth game, I’m sure.
[Does it seem like you haven't been able to find that consistency?]
We’ve just got to turn it up. It’s puzzling when it’s not there on a consistent basis. Hopefully it will be there for the next game. We’ve just got to bring it.
[What kind of changes do you anticipate from Phoenix?]
They’ll be ready. The pick and rolls that they run, the way they spread the floor, that will be a little different. The way they position guys will be a little different. They’re going to bring it. They’re going to come with maximum effort and we have to be ready to match that and go above that.
[Did you see something that makes you think you can be more consistent?]
We had guys playing hard. That’s the key, guys playing hard. We have to understand that and figure out ways to bring up our energy level so that we can bring it on a nightly basis. Especially in the playoffs, we have to learn how to do that.
[What does it mean to you guys when Kwame has success inside?]
It helps because we can get some easy opportunities in the paint and just have Amare think about guarding somebody, and not just roaming around the floor defensively. He has to worry about Kwame.
[How much to it help to control the offensive glass?]
That’s a big part of it, getting on the glass and controlling the tempo of the game. When we get rebounds, they’re not able to run out and do the things that they do best. Controlling the offensive boards for us is huge.
[Some guys were saying that you can't play much better than that]
Hopefully we’ll play the same type of game in the next game. It’s not something that’s really concerning or alarming to me. We just have to go out and play our game and let it all hang out.
[How much significance can you take from that game?]
I think it’s a big confidence boost for us. I keep saying that we’re a young team, and we are, but when you have games like that, where the crowd gets behind you and they’re chanting Kwame’s name, it helps. It gives him confidence and it gives him a boost.
[The shooting percentage wasn't great. It seems like you still have room to improve]
We got some good looks that didn’t go down but we had second- and third-efforts because of the boards. When you do that and play hard, good things happen.
[Do you have to pace yourself if you're playing the entire second half?]
No, not really. Not at this point of the season. I feel fine. I don’t get tired. I haven’t gotten tired in the series. I feel fine.
[It seems like you caught them off guard with the trap]
We did a good job of being aggressive. The important thing is just the execution. No matter what you do, you have to execute and play hard.
[Did you sense that they were thrown off balance?]
I don’t think they were expecting us to be that aggressive. We’ll see what adjustments they make for the following game, because I’m sure they will make them. When they do, we have to make ours.
[How did you come up with the idea to trap?]
We just asked the personnel how they felt best equipped to handle it. With Kwame and his good lateral speed, we thought maybe that would be the best way to handle it. We’re not so sure about Drew handling the same type of thing, but Kwame’s quickness gets him out there to contest the guards away from the basket.
[Do you think they'll adjust?]
Of course. They’ve got something that they’ll come back with. They did in the second half, and tried some adjustments.
[Do you think your ability to control the offensive glass is a big factor?]
Well, we did last year, and they were able to recover in Games 6 and 7. But that was really the focal point of our game last year, is to make sure we got offensive rebounds and went inside. This is a different group but we still want to focus on that. Offensive rebounds, I thought, were lacking in Games 1 and 2, but when we improve that margin it helped us.
[Do you think you guys can be more consistent from now on?]
The basic concept is that we haven’t done anything yet. We have to win another game before we can really challenge in this series. That’s the main thing, is that we’ve got something to work on. I told them today not to get too full of themselves. They had a great game but that’s over. Sunday’s game now becomes the critical contest.
[Is it frustrating that you can't get that effort all the time?]
Coaching is usually not about players not wanting to try hard. Obviously there are situations, with multiple games in a week, that might fatigue them, but it’s not about the fact that they don’t want to work hard or play hard. It’s about confusion. If a mind is befuddled, it can’t work in the right way. The body follows that. They have to have a real concise knowledge of what they’re trying to do.
[Talking about the point-guard situation]
Offensively, we know what have a ways to go with our guard corps, so we asked them to step in today in practice and start making some shots and getting involved in the offense.
[Putting Smush and Shammond out there together, did that help defensively with the trap?]
Smush’s length can be a help and Shammond is a stocky, strong guy and he can handle Barbosa.
[Some people think that Odom just can't outplay Marion]
Lamar has playmaking skills, ball-handling skills and things that he has to do that our different from Marion’s game. They can both rebound and score.