Not a ton going on Monday in El Segundo, and meanwhile Brian and I spent a fair amount of time talking with players and coaches away from the larger media scrums for a few projects in the works. (Teaser alert!!!) Still, we captured the Zen Master in talkie form, if you'd care to watch.
In the first clip, Phil talks about Ron Artest's terrific defense during last night's win, Kobe Bryant's shooting struggles (which PJ has no doubt will be conquered) and the Lakers' inconsistencies (discussed with less certainty). Sunday's victory was obviously nice, but the team's schizophrenic nature makes it hard to evaluate the Lakers' true nature.
Not surprisingly, he questioned the team's early execution.
"I think the ability to play within the system that we have was really disrupted in the first half by (Denver's) defense and by our offensive inactivity. We really went stagnant. We tried to do things and they were able to get over the top of us, knock away post passes, and take away the basic entry passes in our offense. We had to change some of the things that we did in the second half and that concerns us about our execution."
After the game, Brian, Kevin Arnovitz and I broke down how the Lakers changed their offensive strategy in the second half, primarily using Kobe out of the post. PJ was asked today about his willingness to go "off script," so to speak. How high is his comfort level changing on the fly?
"Some of it has to do with how well we were playing," explained PJ, citing Sunday-specific factors like turnovers, early foul trouble for Derek Fisher which got them out of sync, and Denver's "accelerated" play (giving credit where credit is due.) But while PJ would obviously prefer the Lakers execute their gameplan, if it's not working he's certainly not taking a loss out of allegiance to the script. If you can't score through Plan A, Plan B it is.
"Basketball is about penetration. It's about finding a way to get the ball in position to score, so that's what you have to do... You have to break it down by what we used as an automatic in the second half and just forgot about anything but just breaking it down with an automatic and going from there."