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NBA WESTERN CONFERENCE FINALS: SUNS v LAKERS


May 17, 2010


Kobe Bryant


LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA: Game One

Los Angeles Lakers 128
Phoenix Suns - 107


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Big third quarter, seven for ten, six for six from the free-throw line, 21 points. Were you sending a message, because if you were it was a dominant one, or what were you seeing that enabled you to take control of that quarter?
KOBE BRYANT: Just being aggressive, being aggressive, just playing my game, got shots, took them, got lanes to the basket, took them.

Q. Just talk about this past week, took the week off, came to the game today with the yellow sleeve on. It seemed like there was something going on. What was the real deal, if any, with your knee, and how did it feel tonight?
KOBE BRYANT: It felt fine. I've been wearing the sleeve the entire playoffs. Now people are so observant, they pick up on it tonight. I've got ones that are purple and yellow. The knee felt fine. It felt fine.

Q. To steal a line from one of your buddies, practice, do you really need practice after this week? It was unbelievable. How do you score 40 points after not practicing for a week?
KOBE BRYANT: Well, I practice so much during the season, and in the off-season I work a lot. So to take a week off, I'm not going to lose all the work that I put in prior to that.

Q. It looked like Grant Hill was trying to be very physical with you, and you also looked very, very aggressive. Was that making it more emotional for you? Was that spurring the challenge?
KOBE BRYANT: No. It was enjoyable.

Q. Looking at the big picture in these playoffs, you guys probably didn't finish the regular season as well as you would have liked. It's 2-2 against Oklahoma City, they blew it out in Game 4. Since then you've won seven in a row. Was that game a wake-up call or what's changed with this Laker outfit since then?
KOBE BRYANT: I think we've just gotten better. We've just improved as a team. That's what the playoffs is about. You try to get better from game to game or from round to round if you're lucky. That's what we've been doing a good job of so far, and we've got to keep it going.

Q. It seemed like you guys did a good job especially in the first half of keeping Phoenix out of the lane, making their shots a little tougher. What were you doing defensively that worked for you?
KOBE BRYANT: To be honest, they missed a lot of shots that they've been making this entire postseason. I mean, that's really -- we did a good job defensively. We rotated pretty well, but also they missed a lot of threes that they've been making. We've got to do a much better job in Game 2 and the rest of the series.

Q. Watching you and Grant go at it for a while, I couldn't help but wonder, sometimes does it help to make it personal?
KOBE BRYANT: It's never personal with me (smiling).

Q. Having a teammate as talented as Lamar that can basically show up with a 20-20 game out of nowhere --
KOBE BRYANT: He's capable of doing that as a starter. You've all seen the numbers that he puts up when he starts for us. But it sends a great message to the rest of our team that he's accepted the role of coming off the bench. He's had games where people have criticized him, but it's really just the amount of time that he's on the floor, and for him to accept that role makes us that much of a better team because he can have moments like this and have games like this.

Q. Was this one of the most efficient games of your playoff career, 40 points, 35 minutes on just 23 shots?
KOBE BRYANT: Probably. Probably. It was one of them, for sure.

Q. How did having your knee drained, how has that sort of made it feel and impacted your performance?
KOBE BRYANT: Just lost weight. (Laughter).

Q. Is there any discomfort?
KOBE BRYANT: I feel a couple pounds lighter.

Q. The past week of rest that you've had, what part of your game tonight do you think benefitted the most from that rest?
KOBE BRYANT: Well, I think my legs benefitted a lot. I was just able to take some time off and just get stronger, get my legs stronger, get my upper body stronger. It's just kind of like a training camp all over again where I didn't do much on the court, but I was in the weight room doing what I needed to do.

Q. Can you talk about the -- we've discussed in every series points in the paint being huge, and you outscored them by 20 in this one. Do you feel like if you just keep doing that, you're going to be tough to beat?
KOBE BRYANT: Yeah, because it gives you easy opportunities. You try to live in the paint as much as you possibly can, and Phoenix is a very deceptive team because you automatically look at the amount of threes that they take and they make. But once they get you looking there, then they start killing you in the paint with lay-ups and things of that nature, so you've really got to be careful.

Q. How important was it for you to come out aggressive and lead your team to this Game 1 victory?
KOBE BRYANT: When you have these days off, you can kind of sit back and -- I didn't want to not do -- come out too passive to start this game because of the time that we had off. I wanted to make sure we got off to a good start in that first quarter.

Q. With this being a lopsided win, what do you think the focus should be going into Game 2 not to give them any momentum?
KOBE BRYANT: Just look at the things that we did poorly, the rotations that we missed and the open shots that they had and try to cut those down because they'll make those shots in Game 2.

Q. Can you give me an assessment on the way the bench played tonight?
KOBE BRYANT: They played extremely well. I think defensively they did a good job. It was tough to gauge because of the amount of points that we won by, but I felt like they did a good job in that stretch of holding the lead. Obviously Lamar carried the bulk of the scoring for that group, but I felt defensively they did a good job.

Q. Playing a team that was coming in here on a roll, scoring a lot of points, playing real free, did you -- what part of your mindset was to hit them right out of the gate here and kind of knock them out of their comfort zone, let them know what they were in for if they want to win in this building?
KOBE BRYANT: Well, yeah. Part of it was to show them that we're a different team than the one that they faced. We have different match-ups, and it was important Game 1 to show them that this was going to be a fight.

Q. You've exposed some mismatches, again, you've beat them four out of five times this year. Do you feel if you just play that way that you guys will be in good shape, especially down low?
KOBE BRYANT: Oh, yeah. We've got to play our style. It's easier said than done. They make adjustments and force us to do other things, and we just have to continue to adjust to those adjustments. That's when kind of the chess match comes into play.

Q. Can you talk about just the rhythm you've been in over the past five games and what's been the key to keep scoring such a high volume?
KOBE BRYANT: Old age. (Laughter).
No. Just being in good rhythm. I've done a lot of work during the season. You've seen me before games working on my shooting all the time with Chuck and just working on different things. Now I feel like I have two legs to play with. I have a better balance on my shot, so my shots aren't going short anymore. They're going in. I think it's a combination of those two things.

Q. So, Kobe, in the second half when the Lakers went up big on the Suns, the fans started chanting "We want Boston." Did you hear that, and what's your reaction to that?
KOBE BRYANT: I have zero reaction to that.

Q. You obviously want seven more wins in this postseason, but at this point do you feel like the team is playing as best as they can right now?
KOBE BRYANT: We're playing as best as we've played all year right now, but we still have a lot, a lot of work to do.

Q. Phoenix led the NBA in three-point shooting during the regular season. Tonight you look -- you guys shot 47 percent. I know they missed a lot of shots that they're going to probably make. What did you guys do that contributed to shooting the three ball so well?
KOBE BRYANT: Well, I mean, it's -- we just shot the ball well tonight. We normally shoot nowhere near as good as Phoenix does. I think the lead that we had makes it a little easier to take those shots, too. So it's a little misleading, but that's not something that we count on or rely on.

Q. After the game Phil said that the Suns had gone after Brandon Roy by double-teaming him just to get the ball out of his hands and that might be something that you could be looking toward especially if you're scoring at this level. Is that something that the team is prepared for? Is that something that is easy to transition to from the way you've been playing?
KOBE BRYANT: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, we just move the ball to an open guy. They send two guys at me, I've done my job. I've made them make adjustments and get easy opportunities for my teammates. Yeah, we'll be ready if that happens.

End of FastScripts




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