Mike D'Antoni and George Karl talked about tonight's match-up before tip-off ...
Mike D'Antoni: "He puts everybody at ease offensively. And when you are at ease and you feel good about your team [then] your energy is up. He does control the game and the tempo in the last quarter."
On facing the Nuggets at home:
D'Antoni: "They spread you out, they run, they are young, they get hot on you. [Ty] Lawson's a great point guard that puts a lot of pressure on you." The coach also mentioned wanting to turn things into a half court game to grind out a win.
On whether it's important to keep Nash's minutes low:
D'Antoni: "Yeah, because I'm going to get killed if I said no. He's only 38 [years old], come one. Here's how I look at it and I agree - we should get it down to about 34 [minutes per game], but is three minutes playing better than having a day off the next night? I'm pretty liberal about giving him a day off. Is it better to go ahead and practice for an hour and a half or give me three minutes on the floor? I go the other way, I think it's more important that he plays. But we will watch it."
"I think he's [Nash] a better player now that he was in Phoenix - to a certain degree."
On having the best personnel in the league:
D'Antoni: "I'm sure the coach in Oklahoma City would take exception. I love our guys and think we are very talented. We've gotta try to get better as a team, we're not there as a team."
On how to find success tonight vs. the Lakers:
"We have to find energy because we want to play faster. For us to be successful its got to be a speed game. It's speed versus size. If we rebound - I think we can get that game going. Last game, they hit an incredible amount of threes and killed us on the three ball. I don't know if [Antawn] Jamison is playing tonight, but he hasn't played in the last three games so I'm kind of excited about that."
On the resurgence of the Lakers with Nash:
Karl: "I think it's a comfort zone that Nash has with D'Antoni. We play a lot of philosophies that he plays, it's a hard thing to cover. It's kind of like pick your poison: do you cover [Dwight] Howard in the paint, do you cover the ball to the rim, or do you cover the three ball?"
On Kobe Bryant:
Karl: "I'm just amazed with Kobe Bryant. People don't understand ... he's averaging about 26 shots a game in his last five games. The energy it takes to shoot the ball that many times a game and be efficient is amazing. The guy looks like he's getting younger more than he's getting older. He kidded with me last year after the playoff series and said he's losing it. It sure doesn't look like he's losing it right now."
On Andre Iguodala guarding Kobe:
Karl: "I don't think we have to double him a lot. Right now our game plan is to stay away from doubling, crowd him, but don't double him. And Gallo [Danilo Gallinari] has had good success with him too."
On preventing Howard from getting another 28 points and 20 rebounds:
Karl: "Foul him. We didn't foul him last game. It seemed like our big guys were afraid to foul him or afraid to get in foul trouble. I said hey, foul out. I don't think it would be a bad thing. We can't give him the dunk, we can't give him the lob."
Karl: "My assistants like it more than I do. It has been talked about. I wouldn't consider until end of game situations. I thought in the Golden State game there was a couple situation where Golden State should have fouled. He knows it's there so he's moving the ball quickly."
Has Karl used the "hack-a-PLAYER"
Karl: "I think I did it to Shaq once or twice, but that's probably the only guy I ever did it to."
And Jordan Hamilton was fined $25,000 for his outburst to a fan with just over three minutes to play in last night's game. Story here.