The Seams on the D-League Ball Are Blue and Other Things I Learned at Practice Tuesday
Today was the NBA mandated media training day for the team, in which players are tutored in the find art of massaging the screaming talking/writing heads/hands. Make eye contact, speak clearly and confidently, etc. Just in time, too for Kobe, who just seems so uncomfortable on camera.
That was a joke, people. Anyway, because the team had to go to school after their workout, the post-practice media confab consisted only of beat (or quasi beat, in my case) reporters, and lasted about seven seconds. But you'll get it all...
Asked what the Lakers needed to work on during this respite from game play, Phil Jackson pulled a list out of his pocket that at least covered today. "Weights. Run 'em. (Another drill that I couldn't hear because of background noise but it ended in "drill" and had "pass" in it) and transitions. That's what we were working on today, so that we play at a little better speed. Our conditioning I felt was limited in that period of time, eight games in 12 days. It was a pretty heavy schedule, but I thought we lost energy at certain points in ballgames."
Jackson said the team is still trying to achieve the number of possessions he was hoping for going into the year, and rebounding is key. "Our rebounding has been so-so. We've had a couple of games where I've been very pleased with our rebounding because it's given us extra possessions, but the last couple games — three games — I was disappointed in our offensive rebounds and extra possessions," he said. "I thought we had a real good thing going for us against Memphis because we got them turning the ball over, but then we matched them."
Jackson said as well that it does take a little while for trends to emerge in the league. "After you've seen 12, 14 opponents, you've played 16, 18 games or so, you start to see seeing a trend developing within a team." Part of that is creating a reliable rotation, which Jackson is still doing. "I have to figure out a substitute pattern for this team, and how we're going to play against certain lineups that other teams present us." Download phil_jackson1_11.14.mp3
Oddly enough, Kobe's knee was a topic of conversation. He did some working out this morning, therapy, lifted, and then limited himself in practice to be safe. It (the limited workload) is something he knew would happen going into the year to protect the knee. In the larger picture, Kobe and PJ have talked about pacing himself in general and adjusting his game to lengthen his career, though that won't preclude him from rejoining USA Basketball this summer.
He talked as well about his (semi) new role of handling the ball and initiating the offense. "It helps us out as a unit. I've been playing in this offense for a long time and know how to set it up so guys will have a better feel for where their spots will be working from within the system," he said. It doesn't change the offense for him, because he can find any spot on the floor whether he initiates it or not. Download kobe_bryant2_11.14.mp3
So all of that, and blue seams. Who knew? And keep an eye out for some extra media savvy purple and golders in the days ahead. They've been trained.