June 11, 2004
DETROIT, MICHIGAN: Practice Day
Q. Could you talk about their defense and are you surprised at how tough they are, because there's all this talk about Eastern Conference/Western Conference and this team is coming out and really playing great defense, obviously.
KOBE BRYANT: Yeah, you know, they play terrific defense. They are aggressive. They get in the passing lanes. They do a good job disrupting our offense. They are much better on their home floor than they are on the road. It's a great defensive effort.
Q. Is this team as mad as hell and are not going to take it anymore?
KOBE BRYANT: You know, we just have to figure some things out. We have to look at their execution and what they do defensively and try to counter that. But, you know, we are looking forward to Sunday.
Q. You look around and you see Karl just dragging that knee brace around and Fish is limping and Devean is limping and Rick's not playing, are you guys too banged up to really push this right now?
KOBE BRYANT: No.
Q. Where does the turnaround start then? Where do you guys turn at this point?
KOBE BRYANT: It starts with execution. No matter who is out there on the floor, we are able to execute our offense. We'll be fine.
Q. Can you talk about the challenges Tayshaun Prince presents defensively with his long arms, and maybe in turn, also, like, how if you get by him, you have one of the Wallaces to score around as well?
KOBE BRYANT: In the first game I was able to make an adjustment to his length and he came back in the second game with a better effort. If I understood in the third game they made the adjustment, whereas when I get by him, to go pull a jumpshot, they have another defender there, whether it's Richard or Billups or Ben or Rasheed, they stay with me till I give the ball up and they go back to guarding their men. So it was a great defensive effort by them.
Q. At the end of the game, you were chasing Chauncey Billups further up the floor, is that something we may see in the next game more?
KOBE BRYANT: Probably. I know Phil and I have talked about it a little bit, just give them different looks, so, maybe.
Q. When Shaquille only gets two points in the second half, is that them or is it you?
KOBE BRYANT: Well, it's a combination of both. I don't think -- you know, Shaquille, he can score, he can get opportunities, from different spots on the floor, whether it's us running the solo for him, isolation for him or him getting second-chance opportunities. Defensively, they did a good job limiting his touches and limiting my touches. They do a good job defensively.
Q. Are there things that you feel like you can do to get him more touches?
KOBE BRYANT: We're not worried about getting him more touches. We're worried about winning the game and getting everybody better looks. To do that, we're going to have to do a multitude of things and getting him easier opportunities is one of them.
Q. After the game last night, Shaquille said, I guess in going to your bench, he kind of found it peculiar that maybe Bryon Russell has not been tapped, a guy with a lot of playoff experience, been to a couple of Finals. Any thoughts on that, since Phil has gone to rookies the first couple of games?
KOBE BRYANT: No, no thoughts on it. I just know if Phil gives him the call, he'll be ready, as all our guys have been, had they get the call they are ready to step in there. They have been working really hard, so if he does have an opportunity to play, I'm sure he'll be ready.
Q. As you said, you're seeing a second defender, Shaq when he makes a move is seeing a second defender, is it in effect what you're seeing with San Antonio after the first couple of games, take care of the two main guys and see if the other two guys can beat us?
KOBE BRYANT: That's what it seems like, at least after the third game. But it's the type of defense that we've seen before, so we'll have to make some adjustments and really what it boils down to is us executing part of the game, going away from ourselves and Shaquille, and then coming back to this later instead of trying to, you know, have me on isolation 30 feet from the basket or Shaquille in a straight isolation where they can key in on him and lock in on him. That's not helpful to our ballclub.
Q. To do that, giving your situations with Karl and Gary Payton?
KOBE BRYANT: It's hard to do because of Karl's injury. Gary is going to be fine. He got a couple of good looks last game. They will fall for him next time. You know, the defensive pressure that Detroit puts on you, it's a big challenge. I'm looking forward to it.
Q. Can you talk about, you said that you've seen this defense in terms of Detroit, but have you seen kind of a blue-collar approach from anybody else? It seemed like they bring something that maybe you guys have not seen for a complete 48 minutes?
KOBE BRYANT: Yeah, last time we played the Sixers in the Finals, there's a personality of Larry Brown's teams, they all play that way, they all play the same way, very gritty, grind it out, fight you all the way down to the end. Detroit, that's the team that, you know, this is his team this year, and that's how they play. That's a staple of his teams.
Q. And last year you were able to roll off four straight, why are you not having the same success?
KOBE BRYANT: It was a different team we had then. It was a different executing team. It was altogether different. Circumstances were different. We were on such a great roll. Now it's a new ballgame and it's a bigger challenge.
Q. Can you elaborate on what you meant last night when you said you were forced to attack from 30 feet out, and is that, along with Shaq's complaints about not getting enough touches, are those signs that you guys are kind of losing faith in this offense a little bit?
KOBE BRYANT: Oh, no, no, no, that wasn't meant as a complaint by any means. You know, it worked for us well the last game because we used a lot of screen-and-roll penetration. You know, third game, they adjusted. They are not going to let you get to the basket, let me get to the basket two straight times, two straight games, 30 feet from the hoop. They are going to make adjustments. We are going to make adjustments for this next game. They did a great job in the third game reading the situation and stopping my penetration. We'll make our adjustments, simple as that.
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