Game Quotes: Cavaliers at Grizzlies

On the loss:
“I thought our guys had a great effort out there. In the second half, those little spurts that we can’t afford caught up with us. Watching the guys in the locker room, one thing I can say is that the guys were very disappointed in the way we finished the game. This is a good sign. Last game, we were disappointed as well. It made a message to them that if you come out with the same intensity, the same effort and the same aggressiveness that we came out with tonight, then we’ll keep taking steps to get better. That’s a big step for us. I thought we got better tonight, but we still are not able to close out games because of the mistakes that we’re making. It was just too many mistakes. We turned the ball over too many times. We’ve got to treat that orange round thing a little bit more precious. We’ve got to value it a lot more than we’ve been doing in the last few games.”

On J.J. Hickson:
“He played great. I thought he came out from the start doing some things, from a physical standpoint, that we’ve been talking about all season long. I thought he came out with that mindset from the start. He just took it to them (Grizzlies). He had one of his best games offensively and played pretty well on the defensive end as well.”

On the Grizzlies defense:
“You have to give them a lot of credit. They came out and they took it to the third gear. We were in first and second gear, and then they took it to a whole new level on the defensive end and got us to turn the ball over. That was a big factor in the game. Their pressure got up a little bit more. They got more aggressive and more physical. We kind of took a step back instead of meeting that head-on. That’s why we turned the ball over and got into the trouble that we got into. Again, that’s a lesson learned. Once you get a lead and the team starts coming back and becomes more aggressive, that’s when you’ve got to be just as aggressive. You can’t back down or back away from it. You’ve got to be aggressive as well.”

J.J. Hickson
On his performance:
“I just said today, ‘we weren’t going to lose.’ We played a good first half but then kind of let them get back in the game in the third quarter. It was just downhill from there. This game’s behind us. We’ve got another one tomorrow and hopefully we can win that one.”

On the third quarter collapse:
“When Rudy Gay hit the three from way beyond the three-point line, that was kind of demoralizing but that’s no excuse. We had momentum coming into the second half and we should have finished the game.”

On why they’ve lost 23 straight:
“I wake up every morning and ask myself that same question, but things happen. It’s a good learning experience for the whole team and, like I said, hopefully we can get a win tomorrow. With it being a back-to-back, it’s going to be a tough game, but hopefully we’ll have the home crowd behind us and we can get a win.”

On if beating Memphis earlier in the season provided extra confidence to end the losing streak:
“No. No matter who we play, no matter what team it is, we always feel we can win. We’ve been close as of late but tonight was really tough. The way we lost it was tough. We always feel we can compete at a high level and get a win. There is added pressure from the outside world, with the microscope on us as far as how many losses we have, but we don’t let that affect the way we play. We just have to keep plugging away and just find a way to get a win.”

On what happened in the fourth quarter:
“You don’t really want me to answer that. We just have to keep our poise and know that we just have to continue to play hard. We did a good job but then things didn’t go our way.”

On whether he sees the Grizzlies making the playoffs this year:
“Definitely. The thing about an organization as far as being successful and making the playoffs is you have to have a nice nucleus and group of guys who have been together for a while. Now, you’re starting to see these guys play well with one another. They understand each other’s game. They’re playing with a lot of confidence, so you definitely can see them making the playoffs and doing some damage and that’s really saying a lot coming from the Western Conference. They’re definitely a talented team and we understand that now. It’s going to be a team and organization in the future to deal with.”

On the difference between the two halves:
“I told them (at halftime) the game was there to be won, but they were going to have to win it. That team wasn’t going to give it up and they are desperate. I said, ‘The desperate team usually wins, so we have to get desperate.’ We were in a desperate situation. The way we were turning the ball over in the first half, it could have very easily have gotten away from us. We battled back in the third quarter. We held them. Twenty-five points wasn’t that great, but we slowed them down a little bit. We were able to get out and run. Marc (Gasol), when he got his fourth foul we put in Darrell (Arthur). Darrell did a nice job. I thought in the first half, the bench guys did a good job holding us. We played a little bit of zone. We just were turning the ball over too much to take advantage of our defense. When we started playing defense the game started. It was really easy; we got whatever we wanted, but we weren’t getting stops. So, we never really opened up a big enough lead against them, then all of a sudden, they tightened their defense and packed it in. We started turning the ball over. The next thing I know, we were behind for the whole first half.”

On the Cavaliers:
“J.J. Hickson had a great game and carried them. I know what it’s like to be in that locker room, having coached a team that lost 23-in-a-row, nobody feels sorry for you. I do have to commend them on how hard they played. They really thought they could get one tonight. They obviously thought they could get one the last game. You have to give them their due in being professional and playing really hard.”

On Mike Conley:
“Nothing is happening to Mike. Sometimes you just get more opportunities. I will say this, he was banged up. He split his finger. He had a sprained ankle. He had a rib problem where he was hit in the rib. Sometimes you just play within yourself and you don’t do too much. I think he is a lot healthier now, although he didn’t practice yesterday because he was sick. Maybe that helped him too.”

On Sam Young:
“Sam Young is taking advantage of the opportunity to be a starter and be back in the rotation. He was the odd man out for a while. He continued to work. He has come in here and taken the bull by the horns, so to speak, with the opportunity to be in the starting line-up. Tony (Allen) took over for O.J. (Mayo), then Tony gets sick and can’t play and Sam goes in and has done wonderful things. He has played within himself. I’d like to see him rebound a little more with his size. I have no problem with how he is playing.”

On the rest of the season:
“(I tell the team to) win the game. Go out and battle and scratch and claw like we did tonight. Every game is going to be a scratch and claw. The only way you can stay in these games and have a chance to win is to really stay focused and committed to each other and what you’re doing throughout the 48 minutes. As I told them tonight, to get where we want to go is going to take a lot more than they think we have to give. They haven’t given anything yet. They’ve given a lot, but there is a lot more sacrifice that has to be made. There is a lot more unselfishness that has to be done. It goes to a level that draws a bond that when you achieve your goals it lasts forever. That camaraderie and bond lasts forever. That’s what we’re trying to get to. As far as being in the eighth playoff spot, it really means nothing at this stage. We weren’t in it a few weeks ago. It didn’t really mean anything. It just means that you have to keep playing and you have to keep winning. It’s going to flip-flop back and forth. Teams are going win and teams are going to lose. You just try not to get hung up on a four-or-five-game losing streak."