A pre-playoffs practice jam named "Saturdays"
Roller skating would be better, but ours is an imperfect world.
What we're left with is Saturday's practice in El Segundo a day ahead of LA's playoff opener against the Jazz at Staples. One of the great ironies of sports coverage is that as games become a whole lot more important, there's actually a lot less interesting stuff coming from these sorts of media confabs. Everyone- players, coaches, dudes with recorders and cameras, the dude who drives the Metro train that runs by the practice facility- knows what needs to be done and how the Lakers can do it. Now it's just a matter of going out and doing it.
There was a little news to discuss, addressed both by Phil Jackson and Kobe Bryant in today's vids. Ross Siler of the Salt Lake Tribune reports that the chances of Mehmet Okur suiting up for the Jazz Sunday seem, to use a favorite adjective of Jerry Sloan from earlier in the week, bleak. CJ Miles, however, should be ready to go.
I did ask Derek Fisher, though, about why the playoffs get more physical, and what exactly that means. You hear the word "physical" tossed out so much around this time of year that sometimes it loses a little meaning. Maybe the point seems obvious to some, but I thought Fisher's answer was interesting:
So you're seeing guys, for the most part, at their best. Guys with ankle injuries are now better, guys that have had sore knees now have four or five days to get prepared to play. So guys are quicker off the ball, they're stronger in the post. So I think that's where the higher sense of physical play comes from. It's not like guys all of a sudden say, "Okay, I'm going to start running faster! I'm going to start jumping higher!" I think it's a combination of those things."
Add in the natural intensity that helps focus players at this time of year, pushing to give just... a... little... more, and there you go.
Bryant, on his team's preparations for the series. Very businesslike, to say the least, and certainly surprised that the Lakers are opening against Utah. "At the start of the season if you had told me this would be a 1/8 matchup, I'd probably have looked at you like you were crazy. But the NBA works out like that sometimes, because you have so many matchups and you never know what can happen."
Jackson on, among other things, Utah's loss of Okur. "They're decidedly smaller (defensively), but Collins is a sound defensive player who replaces him. But (Okur's) three point shooting, he's really relied on to stretch the defense and open up the court for them. (Losing Okur) didn't diminish much of Deron Williams' penetration in the last game, though. He came through the middle anyway. It does make their centers have to pull out and play very attentive defense at the three point line, which opens up the lane for the guards."
(Note: As you can see, this vid processed without... vid. Just audio. Use your imagination, I guess.)
Lamar Odom (same problem as PJ...):