Postgame Quotes: Phil Jackson, Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol
Postgame quotes at the podium from Phil Jackson, Kobe Bryant, and Pau Gasol after LA's 119-92 win over the Denver Nuggets in Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals, good enough to take the series 4-2, send the Lakers back to the NBA Finals, and guarantee t-shirts like the one pictured will soon find a home with underprivileged youths in distant lands.
Click below for the text, click your imagination to visualize them saying this stuff.
(Thanks to Kendall for sending along the pic.)
COACH JACKSON: Well, we saved our best game for last here, or maybe we caught our opponent a little bit 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 the first half. I thought we moved the ball the right way and got the ball in places we could operate.
Defensively, you know, still one of those things where a coach is never totally happy with the defense, but we're able to shut them down from running, and that's a big part of their game.
Q. You guys have received some criticism for your uneven play during the playoffs. Are these the real Lakers who showed up tonight, and how well does it bode for the Finals?
COACH JACKSON: I think teams go through stretches. And you're in the playoffs, also where you don't play the same level all the time. Tonight was a game where we played at the highest level, shooting the ball well from all spots on the floor.
But I thought our collective energy was good. I thought our collective intelligence was good, and that seemed the most important thing at this time is being able to read the defenses, move the ball, get the ball in places where people can operate.
Q. How good is the timing?
COACH JACKSON: We hope it's good. The Finals don't start until the 4th, and that's almost a week away, so we'll be off for a few days.
Q. Was there anything you obviously executed really well. But was there anything in the way Denver plays that you diagnosed between Game 5 and Game 6 that helped you shut them down so much?
COACH JACKSON: You know, one of the things we admire and honor about this team, the Nuggets, is their ability to get to the basket and their ability to attack, as they call it, attacking. They're really good at it. And tonight we were able to limit that, and they also made them miss at the rim, I thought a number of times. When they even got in there to make the miss.
Obviously, there's a number of situations that went on out there that put guys in foul trouble. Trevor was in foul trouble and Luke got himself in foul trouble. But I thought we did a pretty good job supporting one another in that situation.
I think the best thing we did was we stopped them from the break and stopped them from their easy baskets.
Q. Is this a team that everyone has been looking for that the Lakers are capable of playing? And do you think you'll continue to get the maximum out of your team?
COACH JACKSON: That's a good question. A lot of it has to do with your opponents. And, you know, tonight I thought Pau moved the ball really well inside. He attacked both inside and outside. When that happens, it's very difficult to beat a team. You see that going on in the Eastern Conference with Orlando being able to attack from the outside and the inside both.
We really think that this is the team that we've seen most of the year, the team that played tonight.
Q. The Nuggets have their five top scorers coming back next season. They obviously played pretty well during the regular season. Do you sense this is a team that will be around for a while?
COACH JACKSON: Nothing helps a team than going through the playoffs. It either unifies them or splits them up if they don't perform well. This team, the Nuggets played exceptionally well through the playoffs. They thrashed a lot of opponents in the Western Conference Finals. And their physicality and athleticism and their scoring ability is remarkable.
Q. How important is it now to get these extra two days of rest? Did you provide any incentives? Did you promise days off if they could take care of it tonight?
COACH JACKSON: That's part of it, we need some rest. But the other thing is preparation. And we'll have a couple days to do that and that's important.
Q. You always talk about looking forward to the playoffs. The regular season is just there. Are you having fun now? Is the performance tonight putting you at that level?
COACH JACKSON: Now it's no fun because the NBA takes the fun out of the Finals because they're everywhere, on our bus, they're everywhere.
So they take the fun out of it. But other than that, up to this point it's been a lot of fun.
Q. $10,000 worth of commentary?
COACH JACKSON: That's not criticizing the officials.
Q. Kobe's 35 points, 10 assists, what can you say about his game tonight, especially in the third quarter tonight making that run?
COACH JACKSON: He waited all the first half until the very end of the first half, I thought, to exploit his game. And the idea that other guys were creating problems for the Nuggets, they were focused on him, gave him extra opportunities at the end of the half.
When he carried us in at the half with that burst of points at the end, it really set the tone for the night. He exploited that lead from 6 to 13. And we were able to go in the second half and kind of feed off of that. It was very controlled, excellent game from him.
Q. You'll now have your third Finals, try to get your tenth ring. What would that mean to you to accomplish that, and where would that put you additionally in basketball history?
COACH JACKSON: You know, that part, I've always said, is really about this team. It's about the guys. It's about what they do. It's the collective energy they put together. And I know there's a lot been said about that. But still it comes right down to the fact that these guys collectively put their energy into this thing, they followed the direction that we've had all year. It's really about them.
As far as getting there, not winning, it's a very big disappointment. Huge. Detroit lost and obviously Boston lost last year, a big disappointment to both the teams and the coaching staff. We feel like we failed our team as a coaching staff in both situations. You feel that way.
So having to go back there knowing what a disappointment it was over the summer to live with that and saying we're going to go back there and do this regardless, we're going to get this done, I give a lot of credit to these guys.
Q. You want all the credit if you win?
COACH JACKSON: I'll take all of it from you, but everybody else doesn't have to give me any.
Q. Could you tell us what was the most surprising individual performance? We know Kobe had 35. Talk about the other players that may have surprised you. Walton came in with 10 points?
COACH JACKSON: It was Walton to basically come in there in a situation which we basically got in foul trouble in the first four minutes of the third quarter. And we just had to support each other in that situation. And when that happens you have to generate energy on every possession because you're taking the ball out of bounds after free throws.
So Walton came in and did some things passing the ball and also scoring that really helped us out.
Q. Kobe, did the challenge Denver presented force this team to finally play to its potential?
KOBE BRYANT: I think so. Denver is a great team. Very skilled at all positions. Strong inside. Strong on the perimeter. And very huge problem for us. Huge problem. And because of that we had to elevate our level as a unit. And if we didn't do that, we'd be going home early.
Q. The journey this year to get to the Finals from last year, was this a tougher journey this year?
KOBE BRYANT: By far. By far. 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.
Q. Can you elaborate on how big a game and how big a win this was for the Lakers, and with that momentum going into the Finals?
KOBE BRYANT: It's a huge win, obviously. Denver team, like I said, is a great team and they play even better at home. And for us to come in here and put on the performance we put on gives us a lot of confidence that we can sit, we can look at film and talk about it in practice and then be able to carry it over into the game and execute, I think that shows a lot of maturity.
Q. You seemed really satisfied in the fourth quarter, especially, just little things. You guys were executing the offense properly. Why do you think that all seemed to come together at this stage?
KOBE BRYANT: We just got a read for what they were doing. I think that was the key. We just got 'em beat. Like I said, it was something we talked about. Last game we talked about it, and we have guys on the team that are very smart, very smart basketball players. So I could communicate something to them and they can just in turn take it out on the floor and do it.
And we were able to kind of learn on the fly.
Q. Coach Karl said after the game that Jesus would have had trouble guarding you. What do you think of that comment and is there anybody that would have not had trouble guarding you tonight?
KOBE BRYANT: (Chuckling) well, it's tough to say that's a compliment, you know what I mean? It's a tremendous honor, obviously, to be viewed that way in terms of being hard to defend offensively.
And, I don't know, I did a great job using my teammates and they knocked shots down and put the defense into a position where I could play one on one a little bit and take advantage of that.
Q. Can you compare the mood in the locker room this year compared to after the Spurs series last year and was it a little more subdued?
KOBE BRYANT: It's different. It's different. We're very thankful being in this position, obviously. But did it last year, so we're ready to move on to the NBA Finals and try to take care of business.
Q. Kobe, can you talk about the team's performance? You had some outstanding performance from Lamar. He had 20 points. And Luke had 10 points. He was more aggressive on scoring. What brought that about? What was the execution factor that brought that about?
KOBE BRYANT: It was the defense. It was the defense. And, like I said, we did a great job of reading that and finding the open man. We knew where the open man was going to be. Luke knew where his shots whether going to come from. Lamar knew where his spacing was going to be. And once that happened we made the passes and then they made the plays.
Q. Were you actually upset that you missed the half court shot at the end of the first half? And the second one is what exactly did you say to Pau when he was on the ground after that flagrant? You grabbed him by the head and kind of shook him a little at the end of the game.
KOBE BRYANT: I don't know. I can't remember. I can't remember what I was upset about. Pau, I just told Pau to stay focused. It was a flagrant foul. Looked like he was pretty upset. Just reminded him of what we were here for. Not to retaliate or anything like that. Just get up and knock down the two free throws and go from there.
Q. You had a moment, that's what I was getting at.
KOBE BRYANT: Pau and I have been in constant communication. There's been times where I texted him at 3:00 in the morning, be ready to play tomorrow. And then he'll send a text right back so I know we're on the same wavelength.
Q. What was the turning point of the whole series? Like what play stands out the most in the series that you knew that it was going to go the Lakers' way?
KOBE BRYANT: There wasn't one play at all. This Denver Nuggets team is a problem. Big problem. With Chauncey on the perimeter, Carmelo, Nene, Martin doing what he does on the bench. And J.R. It was a problem.
So it wasn't like there was one moment where we knew we had this series. We had to be on edge all the time. As soon as you relax, they'll bust you. So it wasn't that one moment, it was all the way to the finish.
Q. Can you give us an overview of what you like most about this game, about the team's performance and the balanced scoring?
PAU GASOL: Yeah. Well, first of all, I like the way we came out, the way we came out aggressive and assertive. Really one of the first few times on the road we got off on a good start and we weren't trailing.
So that was really good. And the way we shared the ball, we moved the ball. I think we learned from Game 5 at home that if we move the ball we can kind of break their defense.
And we did that tonight also a lot better. We found our balance. And we were able to be very effective.
Q. It seemed like almost you guys reinvented yourselves after Game 4. Luke said you were more patient playing inside out. Do you see it the same way and how did that call come about?
PAU GASOL: Yeah, tonight definitely it was a balance with the inside game and the outside game. I think we went a lot into the post and that creates a good look for us, because the defense gotta make a decision what they're going to do, play a one on one, come and double team.
I'm a pretty good passer and I can make plays and share the ball well. It felt really good. It felt right. It felt like a overall good win. Obviously Denver has players that are extremely tough, every game of the series. And tonight we finally got off and took off and were able to dominate the game from the beginning to the end.
Q. Where did that change in the way you were playing come from, or the way that the team evolved sort of after Game 4? Coach's meeting, players' meeting, some of it was after what you said, after Game 4.
PAU GASOL: I think we realized that we just gotta do it that way. We just gotta do it, having everybody participate in offense, and that's going to help us defensively, because it's going to give us better looks defensively and it's going to help us on a defensive balance.
And tonight we pretty much they didn't have any fastbreak points and breakouts, and we controlled that because we had really good balance and good shots.
So that's just how we have to do it. We have to keep that consistent and understand what it takes. And then defensively we did a good job, too.
So, like I said, overall it was a really good game for us.
Q. George Karl was saying out in the hallway he thought after Game 4 you guys started playing more like a team. Maybe you can elaborate on that a little bit and just say whether these are the real Lakers that people have been waiting to see for a while.
PAU GASOL: Last two games, I mean, we really proved to ourselves and to everybody else that we can be an extremely high quality team, a team that deserves to be in the NBA Finals and is going for the NBA championship. So that really, really felt good out there and we have to do more of that.
I think we've been a little inconsistent throughout the year with that, and when we do that, when we move the ball and we just use all our weapons and all our players out there, we become really dangerous, because the defense end don't know, they hesitate, they doubt, if to go double team Kobe or not, go double team me or not. And they're a little bit out of balance.
So let's see if we can I think we learned a lesson and we're going to keep it this way.
Q. Do you think this was a peak performance for the Lakers, or can we expect even greater performances than this?
PAU GASOL: Well, I don't know. Tonight definitely a great overall performance on our part. We shot the ball extremely well. We shot the free throws unbelievably, 100 percent. It's hard for us that we struggled a little bit, we were shooting in the low 70s overall.
It's really good. Our focus was there and my man right here, and it was great and it was overall. I don't know if we can play any better, but definitely the winning is what matters. And we're four wins away from reaching our goal and that's all we have on our minds right now.
Q. As an athlete, how do you handle such a long layoff between games heading into the Finals?
PAU GASOL: You keep your focus, you take advantage of the days to get your body ready for the Finals and do whatever it takes mentally and physically to be in the best shape as possible to get there and compete and be successful. So I think we all are aware of what's going on.
Last year hurt us pretty bad. And now we have a chance to redeem ourselves and go for it again. So we're pretty excited. I think we're going to be extremely focused these days on what we have to do to take it.
Q. You've spoken a lot about how much last year hurt. Were there times in this game or even in the last couple of games that memories from last season flooded in and where you were starting to think about what that was like in the summer and after you lost?
PAU GASOL: I mean, 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.
And I think that's what I know went through my mind a couple 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 and that's what our team needs.
And I think we did a good job overall as a group working hard and getting it done. So we'll keep it that way.