Inside the locker room

DENVER — Fairly subdued postgame atmosphere inside the Lakers’ locker room after they defeated the Denver Nuggets tonight and advanced to the NBA Finals for the 30th time in franchise history. The general consensus was: “That’s nice. Now let’s win the title.”

Kobe Bryant on the journey back to the Finals:
“Much, much tougher. Much more physical. Mentally challenging for us. But we gained valuable experience, went through a roller coaster of emotions. You win one, lose one at home, then dealing with that day, the travel and then to come up in a hostile environment and try to win Game 3. Those are things that make you tougher.”

Pau Gasol on the hurt of losing to Boston last June:
“You don’t really think about the loss of last year. But we think about how hard we have been working all year long to get this far and to have the opportunity to win the championship. I think that’s what went through my mind a couple of times when I thought I was a little too tired or a little fatigued here or there. I’m, like, ‘Look, you’ve got to toughen up, gotta dig deep and get whatever you have out there because that’s what my team needs.'”

Coach Phil Jackson on the Lakers’ play in Game 6:
“We saved our best game for last here, or maybe we caught our opponent a little off stride in tonight’s game. But we had the momentum almost from the beginning of the game on. A lot of precise work tonight, even though there was 11 turnovers in the first half. I thought we moved the ball the right way and got the ball in the places we could operate. Defensively, still one of those things were the coach is never totally happy with the defense, but we were able to shut them down from running, and that’s a big part of their game.”

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