Game Quotes: Cavaliers at Bulls

On their play tonight: "It was a good effort by a team that is very depleted. Leon and Alonzo did a good job off the bench. I thought in the third quarter they came out a bit upset the way they had played. We seemed to come out feeling good about how we had played in the first half. Overall, I thought our effort was fantastic."

On Leon Powe's play: "Number one, he is a professional. He has kept himself ready though he was not playing and was on the bench. We've talked throughout the season and I'm just proud of him and the effort that he played with tonight."

On the team's communication: "Communication problems, one of our biggest problems is communicating out there on the court. That's the next big step that we have to take. With four or five seconds left on the shot clock we seem to have breakdowns and poor communication."

On J.J. Hickson: "J.J. played well for us. He was aggressive offensively, and defensively he didn't get beat. He took a couple of poor shots but overall his effort was great and he played within himself."

Were you surprised at how close the game was, given that you were down three starters?: "No. As long as I'm on the court I think I can win the game, I don't care who's out there with me. It's not like we've been playing horribly of late. There have been a couple of stretches that dictate the outcome of the game. Tonight, the third quarter was the difference. We've got guys who can play. Leon hasn't played that much, we know he's capable of doing it. J.J. as well. Alonzo has shown what he can do last year on different teams. We have guys who can compete at a high level. They did a good job as far as setting the tone but we just couldn't do it for 48 minutes. The biggest difference in the third quarter was that they were more aggressive than we were. We took off balance shots, not going to the basket. They did a great job limiting us to one shot. They were real aggressive in going to the basket. Derrick Rose dictated the game again, like always. I think that was the biggest difference, they were more aggressive on both ends of the floor. We just sat there and took their aggressiveness and we didn't match it at all."

On almost making a comeback at the end: "It's difficult, you're down 15 and having an uphill battle, we found a way to get it done, we just ran out of time. But you can't come out and get outscored 32-9 in the third quarter and expect to win a game. The one thing I do like is the character of this team. We didn't let that get into our psyche at all. We were still positive, we still played hard, those are the things you want to do no matter if you're up or down. We just dug ourselves a hole that we couldn't get out of. This is playoff-caliber team and we can't let them have that kind of advantage over you throughout the game."

On winning when you're not playing real well: “I think we played hard tonight. We did not play hard in the 1st half. We'll take the win. We struggled, our defense was poor in the 1st half. I thought our defense in the 3rd quarter was great. You have to find different ways to win. You look at the end and I thought we did a good job.”

What did you tell them at halftime?: “First and foremost we have to establish ourselves defensively. We didn't do that. We wanted to correct that first. Offensively we missed some shots that I thought were good shots. It took away from how we were playing with energy. We got into a mode where we were just trading baskets with Cleveland. You can't win like that. When we went ahead, they just came back. In the 3rd quarter we came out and had the right energy and the right intensity.”

Struggling against teams below .500, short handed and piling up wins: “We'll take the wins any way we can get them. We know we have to improve in a number of areas. We have some practice time where we know we can work on stuff so we have to take advantage of that. You look at the overall picture and I think defensively we are never satisfied and want it to be great. And offensively it will come. I think we are still finding our way offensively. We want to get a balance between transition, post-up and catch and shoot. When we do that we are very efficient offensively. We are striving to be a balanced team.”

On the good play even with injuries to key players: “I like the depth of our team. When you look at other teams in the league, look at Cleveland. They played terrific and they are down players. They play hard and are talented. You have to count on your bench. The bench has to have the ability to step up and get the job done. Our guys have done that all year.”

Kurt Thomas gave you a lift on the boards: “As you guys have seen, you can count on Kurt. His defense is excellent, his team defense is excellent and even when guys score on him, he is going to make them work. He doesn't get discouraged is a guy scores on him, he'll come back next time and make it even harder on him. I thought his rebounding and reaction to the ball was great. He sets a good pick so that when a guy come off of one of his picks, he's open. He has the ability to hit the spot-up shot.”

They had an advantage with quickness: “They went small in the1st half, Carlos picking the 2nd foul early hurt us. He would have given us that post presence that we were looking for. We had to adjust from there. We have to have the balance of catch and shoot and transition and post. We want to establish the post early in the game and with Carlos out we got away from that.”

On the game: “They basically kicked our butt in the 1st half. We came in here, looked in the mirror, critiqued how we were playing- which wasn't very good- and we came out in the 2nd half different. We only gave up 9 points in the 3rd quarter which won the game for us. We came out in the 4th and executed enough to get the W. We're winning but we have to be better than that.”

On winning ugly: “We've got to get better. This is the NBA, winning is not easy. I don't care who you play. Everybody has pride, everybody can play. For us, we've got to improve, but we are winning.”

On his early foul trouble in back to back games: “Hopefully that's behind me and it won't happen in the future.”

Is it necessary to win prettier games?: “We've just got to win. The bottom line is a win is a win, but we do need to play better. We do need to improve. We get back into the lab on Monday and we'll be ready for our game on Tuesday.”

It seemed like it was a battle out there tonight: “No doubt about it. Cleveland came out with a lot of energy. We didn't play well in the 1st half but we were fortunate to play well in the 3rd quarter.”

What did you talk about at halftime?: “We just talked about giving a better 2nd and 3rd effort. Cleveland played extremely well. They were really moving the ball and knocking down shots. We finally started to get to some loose balls and we hit some tough shots that helped us get back in the game.”

Has there been a lack of energy lately?: “We're just playing hard. You have to give the opposing team credit. They played solid defense out there. We're keeping our heads up and continuing to keep fighting. The key is to get the W no matter how ugly it is.”