Here’s some stuff from Phil Jackson and Kobe Bryant after today’s practice.
Q: Are you concerned about having to match them more than they have to match you? Jackson: “No. I’m not that concerned about it.”
Q: Any big adjustments for Game 3?
Jackson: “They won, but these were both very close games. It’s not like the bottom fell out of the ocean just because we lost this ballgame. We had a game. We lost our shot to win the game, obviously, on a couple of plays down the stretch. We’re OK. What we have to do is get more physical with this team, and that’s a hard thing to say because it’s a physical basketball club. Just being able to play through a physical game without letting it affect our cuts, our activity level. They’re jamming up the cutters. We’re not able to keep the movement going that facilitates our offense.”
Q: What’s your road strategy?
Jackson: “You definitely know you’re going to have to play a tighter game turnover-wise. You can’t be quite as loose. We can’t get involved in a 25 3-point shot attempt-type of ballgame. Our spacing has to be better. We have to dramatize our spacing in this ballgame. And our activity level has to be better.”
Q: What about the altitude in Denver?
Jackson: “I think they’re effected by it, but it’s not a factor that’s going to change the outcome of the game. They’ve been here for four or five days. The body changes in a period of 36 to 48 hours.”
Bryant’s opening statement: “You’ve just got to respond to the challenge. It’s the playoffs. It’s not easy for anybody. Denver is a great team, and so are we.”
Q: Do you expect the Nuggets to be even better at home?
Bryant: “Much better. They’ll be playing looser, with more confidence, more energy, more aggression. I think we played hard. I don’t think they outhustled us or anything like that. They got to the free throw line and created easy opportunities for themselves at the end of the ballgame. It’s always been a tough place to play. They had a great home record last season, too. This season is no different.”
Q: Does the series feel as close as it looks?
Bryant: “We’ve had two really close ballgames, great ballgames to watch. … It does feel that close. It’s different from the last series, when we had these big leads and milked the games away. This series is not like that. We know what they’re capable fo doing. Now it’s about stopping them, which is harder to do because it’s the Western Conference finals. It’s not the first round or the second round.”
Q: Who makes the next move?
Bryant: “The team that loses. It’s on us. It’s always the team that losses that makes the adjustments. It’s kind of a back-and-forth thing.
Q: What about Carmelo Anthony asking to guard you down the stretch?
Bryant: “I rubbed off on him. To be a great player you’ve got to play both ends of the floor. You’ve got to be able to do everything. I told him all summer long, you’ve got the talent to do both, don’t do just one. He seems to be responding to that challenge. … It adds to the competition, to the excitement.”
Q: How do you get your big men more involved in Denver?
Bryant: “We’ve got to stop their big men, that’s first and foremost. We’ve got to stop them from being as effective as they’ve been. As far as ours go, Pau (Gasol) did a good job for us last night, both on the boards and his production. We’ve just to get some more of that. It’s funny Game 2 comes down to some plays down the stretch, some calls here and there and some calls here and there. Now it’s like we have to re-invent the wheel. We’ll just do what we do.”
Q: How do you stop Chauncey Billups?
Bryant: “Keep them out of the bonus. They get into the bonus early, then Chauncey starts running into people. He draws contact. Those are some of the things we need to prevent.”