Lakers practice: Let's talk about rebounding, fouls, Shannon Brown, Trevor Ariza, and Mario Lopez
The Lakers finished off a brisk practice today in El Segundo Monday afternoon in the wake of Sunday's Game 1 win over Utah. Big themes: Better defense and rebounding, less fouling, continuing to improve. These, by the way, will likely be the same refrains heard for the rest of the playoffs. There was obvious disappointment in how the team came out in the third quarter, but at the same time, and appropriately, nobody was sounding the Doomsday Whistle.
"It was fouling. You give a team free throws, and all of a sudden it stops momentum, and the game becomes choppy. They sneak back into the game. That's what happens," Kobe Bryant said. "They continued to chop at it by the amount of free throws that they shot, and then from that point on it's an uphill battle to try and regain the momentum. But I think the positive thing is that they kept getting to nine or ten, but never were able to break through."
More from Kobe, in moving picture form:
Pau Gasol addressed the need to keep the Jazz off the offensive glass. Like pulling a large covered wagon, it takes a team effort. "A lot of (the offensive boards) were from their misses, and put backs, and us allowing middle penetration, and guys attacking and pounding the boards. They're good at that, but we need to make sure we're aware of it. We've got to cut down on the middle penetration so we don't get off the bodies of bigs and we can box out," he said. "I think our wings have to do a better job of putting bodies on people, and don't let (Ronnie) Brewer, (CJ) Miles, and (Matt) Harpring get in the lane, not let (Andrei) Kirilenko get in the lane, and keep those balls alive. Everybody's got to put a body (on someone), not just the two bigs that are out there. It's got to be a team rebounding effort."
Other moments of note:
- After practice, Josh Powell, Shannon Brown, and Adam Morrison squared off against Luke Walton, Sasha Vujacic, and Jordan Farmar in a spirited game of three-on-three. While they were clearly having fun, it was competitive, but the important thing about the post-practice work was that Farmar seemed to be moving well. That he was even out there to play indicates that the tendinitis in his right foot is feeling good after yesterday's game.
- Michelle Kwan was there, filming (I believe) something for some reality show she's working on.
- More stars! Mario Lopez (that's A.C. Slater to you, me and AK's Complete Saved By the Bell Box Set) was in the building, shooting with Kobe for a spot with Extra. Slater did okay with layups, but struggled from beyond the arc. He's a little guy, so launching from the NBA three point line was a problem. It took about 10 or so hoists, but finally he found a little net.
- I heard from someone who was there that Mehmet Okur didn't practice today when the Jazz had their run, which obviously calls into question his availability for Tuesday's Game 2. Incidentally, Utah is practicing at the Clippers' team facility. That ought to create an atmosphere of winning.
- Kobe was asked if he watches a ton of hoops in his down time, just as LeBron does: "He and I are different. He watches all the games, and he watches our games. I really don't (watch much). If we're playing an opponent, then I'll buckle down and I'll watch them. But I won't watch just to watch if I'm at home. (Ed. Note: So he might, for example, have missed the last big Bucks vs. T-Wolves game?). Know what I watched (last night)? All jokes aside? I watched Electric Boogaloo. I swear to God. My kids wanted to watch Electric Boogaloo, so I sat down and watched Electric Boogaloo and watched my kids pop and breakdance on the bed. That's what I did.
- More Kobe, on avoiding the fouls they piled up as a team Sunday night: "You have to anticipate cutters. That's really the big thing, is fouls off the ball. Utah, they cut extremely hard, they set great picks, and a lot of times you'll see those fouls and they're coming off screen and roll situations where a guard might get hit with a pick and all of a sudden he's late and it creates contact with the offensive player. So we have to anticipate those cuts and anticipate screens a little better, and try to get bodies on bodies."
Kobe was then asked about Deron Williams, and whether he sees any parallels between what Williams is going through right now in terms of being an elite player without enough talent around him to win a title, and what Kobe had to deal with a couple years back. Obviously, it's all relative, but is there a kernel of similarity?
"Deron's not even close to that situation. He's got a little bit of a better cast than I did. It's not dire straits for him. If you're asking me if I feel bad for him? Absolutely not. No way. He's fine. If he just continues to play, they have some talented players over there, they have a great coach. They'll be fine."
Okay, so it's not exactly identical...
"It's not even close. They don't even have Smush Parker on (that) team. It's not even close."
Touche! Take that, Boobie's Bench.
Phil Jackson, on Game 1, and what they're expecting Tuesday:
PJ, on Trevor Ariza and Shannon Brown:
Andrew Bynum, on his performance last night, and what they're planning on doing tomorrow. Hint, it starts with keeping bodies on guys defensively when shots go up, and accounting for people when Williams gets into the lane.
Brown, on his Game 1, getting his chance to play, and guarding Deron Williams: