Quick day in El Segundo today. Phil Jackson called off practice after a quick video session. The Lakers will practice tomorrow before boarding a 3 p.m. flight to Phoenix for Wednesday’s Game 5.
– Kobe Bryant was a first-team selection to the NBA’s all-defensive time, the seventh time in his 11 seasons that he’s been a first-team or second-team selection. Bryant got 14 first-place votes out of 30, and fellow first-team selection Raja Bell got seven first-place votes and 11 second-place votes. Bruce Bowen, Tim Duncan and Marcus Camby also made the first team.
– Phil said Lamar Odom felt better today, after a tough game in which he was limited by his elbow and shoulder injuries. Only rest and (likely) surgery will help Odom at this point.
– Phil once again mentioned the possibility of putting Radmanovic on the active roster, but he said the same thing before Game 4 and didn’t do it. Presumably, Brian Cook would be the odd man out, and given that he has a sprained thumb, that switch wouldn’t be a stretch.
Not much else news going on. Players were not available to reporters today, so the only interview transcript is from Phil Jackson. More tomorrow…
[Talking about canceling practice]
I sent them home after a short video session and told them to bring their energy back and play a basketball game. We’ll get a practice in tomorrow and do what we have to do to make changes.
[How did the video look, 24 hours later?]
Well, we were outhustled. They had more energy on the floor than we did. They imposed their will on the game and we never recovered. We had a little opportunity in the second period that escaped us at the end of the second period. We had a little run in the third quarter when we got it under 10 points but other than that, they controlled the second half.
[What did you want to accomplish by sending them home?]
They know what to do. They know what they have to do to play. It’s the execution that counts. That’s a big part of it. The major part about playing is about renewed energy and determination and that’s what they have to get back. Our big guys didn’t give us the hustle that we had in the last game. The aggressive nature that they had in Game 3 was lacking yesterday on the floor.
[You said they were depressed after Game 2. Are you worried about a similar thing now?]
No, these guys recover really quickly. I think today was a tough day. Obviously last night was not easy, facing their friends and family, but they’ll be alright by tomorrow. They’ll be back at it.
[How much does the injury situation play into this?]
I’m concerned about two or three players, but there’s nothing like time to heal things. Lamar feels a lot better today, even after the activity yesterday. Yesterday I was very worried in the first half that he wasn’t involved in the ballgame and couldn’t make a shot, or looked like he didn’t want to take a shot. He got himself involved in the third quarter, so I was pleased that he got back into the game.
[Any lineup changes? Maybe Radmanovic goes back in?]
[Too early to determine who goes?]
Yeah. You know, you have to play 12 guys in the first half. We came out of that first half OK. We had a one-minute letdown at the end of the half. We came back and just didn’t give the same energy in the third quarter. We keep rapping on the tune that the first five minutes of the third quarter determine a lot about the game, and we didn’t have it. We got down by 12 points instead of going on a run and starting out right. We’ll see who comes out in practice tomorrow and shows me that they want to hustle and play.
[How disappointed were you that the hustle was not there?]
Hustle is about confusion. It’s not that they don’t want to give effort. I think these guys want to give that effort. Some of our guys are only one-effort players but they don’t give you a continual effort. That’s kind of inherent. But there were times when we switched and left Nash open for 3-point shots. Little things like that made it obvious that we really were not communicating to one another, which is part of the whole attack. How you play together is to communicate.
[How do you frame this next game to the players?]
Just bring it back to L.A. Bring the series back to L.A. and let the chips fall where they may. It’s just a one-game scenario. If you get to thinking about what happens if, you get yourself in trouble.
[Kobe was first-team all defense]
Kobe proved his defense in the second half of the season and we’re happy that he made the first team all-defensive team. But you’ve got to live up to that. That’s really important. When he puts his mind to his defense, he’s done a great job for us. We’ve talked a lot about him not being able to do some of the things he’s done in the past, like steals, or stopping guys and blocking shots in key situations like he’s done when he was younger. We want him to focus on that and we think this will help him focus on that and take some pride in what he’s accomplished in terms of being named to the first-team all-defensive team.
[Is there a sense of wanting to make the most of Kobe's prime years?]
You can always say, `What if?’ The situation you compare it to is Kevin Garnett. He was MVP three years ago and his team hasn’t been in the playoffs, even. There’s one end of the scale and there’s another end of the scale. How do you redeem that? Kobe has a part in this. We’ve been working with that over the past couple years, as far as how to do this. We know we’re one player away, as we said earlier in the year, from maybe being a top-echelon team in the league. In that process, Kobe has helped us reach levels that we haven’t expected to be at. Now, in the playoff situation, where do you go from there? Do you make it a team effort? Let him loose and tell him to score 60 points, against a team that’s got a couple guys who are really top defenders? How do you deal with the disappointment that comes with a loss like we had in Game 2 and Game 4? This is what makes Kobe a great player, because he goes back and finds a way to be optimistic and positive and come back with renewed energy to carry a basketball club. We’re not dismissing this at all, and thinking about what-ifs. There are just too many things that can happen in basketball, so you just don’t blow off a game. People have come back from 3-1, and we could be one of those teams, but we have to play like we did in Game 3.
[Can you rally around the fact that you're such underdogs right now?]
Exactly. Here we are, a team that’s 42-40, and Phoenix has won almost 20 more games than we have on the year. We just don’t want the referees to think that way. We want everyone else to give us a fair break and we’ll go from there. Give us an opportunity to play our game too. You have to shoot for the top, and play with the kind of freedom you need in order to win.
[What did you think of Lamar's effort, playing injured and getting the crowd pumped up?]
He was trying to get the energy back in the game and in the building. He was getting himself back in it. A lot of times, I think that’s how Lamar does it. He reflects so much onto himself. You need that extra energy to go. Many times on the tape, I caught guys with their hands on their knees during the course of the game, tired and fatigued. Even guys who were playing five-minute shifts got fatigued out there. We know it’s going to take us a few more guys to play against this team than a normal team, because of their speed and activity. Lamar was one of those guys who I thought fatigued during the game. With the energy that the crowd brought, I thought it energized him.