Phil Jackson was his usual interesting self at the Lakers’ shootaround early this afternoon at the Ford Center. A portion of the informal press briefing.
What do you want your team to think about tonight more than anything?
Jackson: “Good shots. Take good shots. Rebound. Those are two things I thought we failed a little bit. That part will take care of the rest of the game.”
When you have open shots, and the Thunder is giving you some open shots, are they hard not to take?
Jackson: “Yeah it’s hard. But I thought in the fourth quarter (Thursday night), we took some contested shots. Their defense was in us, up on us, and we took shots anyway.”
You’re not getting calls, but is part of working through that taking the ball to the basket?
Jackson: “We always take direct lines of principle. If you’ve got a direct line to the basket, you’ve got to go with it. Things will happen the right way out there.”
How much more emphasis will there on passing the ball inside?
Jackson: “We have to get the ball inside, there’s no doubt that. That’s where our strength is. We’re also not going to force the ball in there if it costs us the basketball. We have to be judicious about it, yet persistent.”
What can you do to get Lamar Odom going?
Jackson: “He’s going to find his way. Things happen for people. You get a defensive stop, you get a rebound, things will happen. That’s one of the things, he’s the best in the open floor when he rebounds the ball. Right now, they’ve done a good job, Green and Ibaka have done a real good job of playing him. You have to give them credit. That happens.”
Odom’s minutes are down. Is that by choice or just the way the game’s gone?
Jackson: “Cominbation of both. How much his presence is felt on the floor and how the game is going.”
Ibaka looks like he’s jumping at everything, trying to block shots. Is that something you can take advantage of?
Jackson: “Experienced players know how to do that. They certainly should. Last game, they had four team blocks as opposed to 17 the game before. So that’s a big difference. Some of that has to do with how many outside shots we took. Theyinfluenced the game in that regard.”
It looked like Artest did another good job on Durant on Thursday night?
Jackson: “Ron did a good job. Some came when Kobe was guarding him. Situations, they cross-matched effectively, to have space. Different defender on him. But Ron did fine.”
Tonight is a chance to keep this series from coming back here? How important is that?
Jackson: “It’s about homecourt advantage. It really is. You want to take it away from your opponent. You want to store the homecourt advantage you have. So that’s what it’s about. It’s not about, if we lose, we have come to Oklahoma. No. It’s about coming here and trying to take something away from them.”
Russell Westbrook likes like a developing star. What do you do as a team to stop him?
Jackson: “We really have asked our big guys to keep focus on him. When they turn their back, when they start getting a little bit lazy coming back on defense, we lose the advantage of walling him off. Put people between him and the basket. That’s really the effectiveness we have to have.”
Most Phil Jackson teams are inconsistent late in the season. Not this one. What do you expect tonight?
Jackson: “I usually have a gut feeling about it, these games. Right now, I’m just kind of weighing it. Maybe I’m hungry. Maybe I better have lunch.”