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Transcript: Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry media availability – July 12, 2020

Alvin Gentry Media Availability – July 12, 2020

On today’s practice:
“I thought we had our best practice by far today. The intensity level, the execution, the conditioning part of it – I thought our guys did a good job. I thought they were really locked in from a focus standpoint and just did a really, really good job today. We went hard today. They did a good job both defensively and offensively. The defense was very aggressive and challenging, and I thought our offense did a good job of executing.”

On what he hopes to see from Zion Williamson defensively:
“I think he’s making improvements. Obviously, for a young player the defensive end is the greatest adjustment and I think he’s feeling much more comfortable with what we’re asking him to do. He’s doing a good job switching out on perimeter guys. It’s still going be a learning thing for him from a defensive standpoint, but I think he’s made strides in that area already.”

On how the team will be able to gather its rhythm after being apart for three months:
“I think the message that we have to deliver as a staff is that, ‘Okay, we’ve had a four month hiatus but we’re going to pick back up where we left off.’ We thought we were trending in the right direction there from the standpoint of what we were doing offensively and defensively, as well as winning games. Rather than make this a new venture altogether from the standpoint that we’re going to start from scratch, I think what we needed to do is start from where we left off. Our defense was trending in the right direction. Offensively, we were playing really good basketball. I thought Lonzo Ball was playing as well as any guard in the league during that stage. Then obviously, Zion was getting much more acclimated to what we were trying to do. He was playing at a real high level. He and B.I. were learning how to exist out on the floor together. Jrue was playing really good basketball. What we wanted to do was not come back and say, ‘Okay, let’s start all over.’ Basically, the message we were trying to deliver was, ‘Let’s start where we left off.’ We were doing exactly what we wanted to be doing and that was playing our best basketball as the season was winding down.”

On how important the bench was to the team’s success prior to the season’s suspension, and how important depth will be as the team resumes play in Orlando:
“Our bench has been key all along. No matter who we played out there, at some stage our bench has been really a deciding factor in some games or had the ability to get us back in some games where we had rough starts or slow starts. We depend on our bench because we do have good depth there. When guys have gotten hurt, our bench has been able to step for a guy as a starter and done a good job in that particular game or a few games if we needed them. You have to have depth. I think it’s going to really help the teams down here that have good depth because it is something that’s new to players. Playing at this time of year is not something that they’re really accustomed to. It’ll be an adjustment and I think the teams that have deep benches will benefit from that.”

On the role that Josh Hart plays:
“He’s really like a utility infielder or a utility player altogether. He can play two, three, or four for us. He did a good job of coming in and giving us that energy. He’s a really, really good rebounder at his position. I just felt like we could put him in most situations and he’s able to guard up. By that, I mean we can put him on 6’9” or 6’10” guys and he does a good job of fighting and battling there. I think he settled into that role. It was a role that was very beneficial to our team because of his versatility.”

On the difference between playoff basketball and regular season basketball, and getting the team ready for the intense playing environment:
“First of all, playoff basketball is an entirely different thing. From an intensity standpoint and from a physicality standpoint, it’s always been that way. So you have to get your guys accustomed to playing at a different level from a physicality standpoint. The intensity of the game in general, just the stress factor in the games and how much pressure you’re under in every single game because one game could be the difference in the series. It’s just a different kind of basketball, but it’s exciting and I think guys like it. Usually when you get into a playoff situation, you’re playing on adrenaline a lot also so the energy is always there.”

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