Game Quotes: Cavaliers vs. Lakers - January 21st, 2010

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HEAD COACH MIKE BROWN
(General thoughts on tonight’s game):
“I thought we did a decent job of grinding this game out. It wasn’t a pretty game; it was an ugly game, but our guys had a physical presence, especially defensively, throughout the ballgame. That’s something that we want to continue trying to do. We want to continue trying to have a physical presence defensively and doing it without fouling. We got a lot of solid performances from guys. Delonte’s stat line wasn’t pretty, but I thought his toughness and the way he ran the team was terrific. Obviously, we went to Shaq throughout parts of the game and he delivered for us. Andy was great for us, especially down the stretch. I don’t say this much, but I thought that J.J. Hickson was big for us. It was great to see the young fella come up with the double-double tonight, with the 14 rebounds, and I thought that he was aggressive trying to finish around the basket. Obviously, LeBron willed this win for us. He has been doing that for us lately, for us the right way down the stretch, no matter who our opponent is.”

(On what it means to beat the Lakers in both meetings during the regular season):
“Obviously, they have the best record in the league and it could give guys some confidence. It is a win and it’s one of 82. You feel good about it because we won the game and I thought we won the game the right way. Other than that, I don’t know how much weight it carries.”

(On having Shaq’s presence against bigger teams):
“I said last year that I thought a couple of teams gave us problems because of their size. The Lakers were one of those teams. Orlando was another, Houston with Yao and you can kind of throw Boston in there too. Bringing Shaq in here has helped bolster (our) front line. It has also given us an inside presence. As the game went along, Bynum was long and big and Gasol was long. We didn’t really do anything tricky; we just threw the ball in to him and spaced the floor and we spaced the floor correctly. I thought that we moved when they dug or they went to double and that helped out. The big fella just went in and got us buckets inside that paint. Not only on the defensive end is it great to have somebody like that in the paint for you, but offensively he is a guy that we feel has a chance to score on anybody in the league on that low block. It’s fun to see the big fella out there.”

(On buckling down on defense after the first quarter):
“We had started to double Kobe because he got into a nice rhythm. We started to come after him a bit and that helped us out some because he still scored his points and he is a tough cover. Other than that, at the beginning of the game, they got a lot of long rebounds for putbacks and they got some easy baskets because we lost our man in transition, we lost our man on second (chance) opportunities and they made a back cut or two. They got some easy buckets around the rim. As the game went along, we tried to do a better job of cleaning that up. Our guys understood that if we trust our defense, especially in the half-court, we will be able to come up with some stops and be able to get out and go the other way with it…and that happened. We took away their easy (baskets) and forced them to play into our half-court defense a little bit more.”


LEBRON JAMES
(On closing out the game):
“That’s what it’s about. We know that’s money time. We know that 85% of the time, the game is won in the fourth quarter. In our case, it’s probably about 95% of the time. It’s a big win for us. We played well. We just have to keep the momentum going.”

(On Shaq’s impact):
“What he does for us is allow us to not double-team in the post. In the past, we’ve been undersized, undermanned…he allows us to stay home on a lot of shooters and play a team straight up. Offensively, he puts a lot of pressure on other bigs by getting them in foul trouble and getting easy baskets.”

(On J.J. Hickson tonight):
“He was great. He used his energy, athleticism, speed and quickness to counter their height. We’re a very talented team and we are very good in the frontcourt when he plays at a high level.”

(On sweeping the Lakers):
“I don’t look too far into it. You don’t want to look too far into beating one team twice. The championship still goes through L.A. It doesn’t matter if you beat the team four times, you still have to beat them in the Finals to take that trophy away from them. It’s a huge win and I can’t sit here and say it’s just a normal game because it’s not. It is just one win, but we’re happy we got better tonight.”

(On playing without Mo):
“It (getting off to a slow start) had a little bit to do with it. When you lose your quarterback, it can really hurt you. We were able to settle down, get some good shots and some easy buckets.”


SHAQUILLE O’NEAL
(On beating a quality team like the Lakers):
“We always play well against the good teams. I said coming in that we match up well with anybody. We knew it was going to be a tough test for us and we stood up to the test. LeBron had a fabulous game and the other guys who came off the bench had fabulous games.”

(On his effectiveness in the paint):
“They were coming to me, throwing it to me every time. I’m at the age where people are not going to double. I’ve been shooting at 50-60 percent my whole career so if I miss one, I’m not going to miss too many.”

(On J.J. Hickson’s performance):
“J.J. played fabulous. He played his role to a ‘t’.”

(On whether this was a statement win):
“For us, it’s just two of 82. We just want to get better every game. We want to be one of the top echelon teams, especially going into the playoffs.”

(On Mo’s injury):
“Mo is a big part of our offense, but I know Delonte is going to step up.”

(On whether this is a championship caliber team):
“We lost 11 games and I’m going to go on the record and say we gave eight of those away. For us it’s still a learning process and we still have to get adjusted (to each other).”


J.J. HICKSON
(On the difference between his performance this year versus L.A. and tonight):
“I think it was a lack of effort on my side (last season). I really tuned in and I told myself I was going to box out if I didn’t do anything else, because I think that’s what hurt us as a team when they came in and beat us last year. I was locked in and got a lot of rebounds.”

(On getting more time and improving throughout the season):
“That’s major. Getting more time shows that my teammates and everyone on the coaching staff trusts me on the court. I played a lot of good minutes tonight and I’m looking forward to playing a lot more.”

(On what he’s improved on the most this season):
“I think I’m being more consistent on the defensive side. Mike Brown is a big defensive guy so I think I’m being more consistent on defense. With me being more consistent, it’s going to allow me to play more minutes on the court.”

(On his first career double-double):
“When you rebound, it opens up other parts of your game. I think I had only two offensive rebounds, but my rebounding got me in rhythm.”


LAKERS HEAD COACH PHIL JACKSON
(On the end of the game):
“Pau had a chance to give us a lead. I guess that’s execution. He had a couple of shots. They scored the next time and we had a chance to tie. They made some shots and we didn’t. Pau had a hand in a lot of that. One thing that bothered me was the foul at the end with the rebounding foul. The missed free throw by LeBron, I didn’t like that. I thought it was Varejao’s foul. When they blew the whistle, I thought they were going to call Varejao for coming over the back, but they called the foul on Ron for grabbing him. Rebound situation foul like that at the end of the game, to make that call, is kind of weird.”

(On this game being compared to first meeting):
“No, not at all. A totally different game. There’s nothing to that (losing twice to Cavs).”

(On the Lakers):
“Leads come and go in a game and momentum swings. We just didn’t shoot the ball well, we didn’t shoot free throws well.”

(On Kobe Bryant):
“He kept us in it. He kept looking for guys. They made some real good adjustments and made him take some tough shots.”


KOBE BRYANT
(On keys in the second half for Cavs):
“Their bigs were very active and very physical and wore us down.”

(On disappointed in losing twice to the Cavs):
“Yeah, it’s a test for us. We’ve got another test later on this trip, and we’ll see how we respond to a physical team against Boston. I’m not worried about it (possible Finals matchup vs. Cavs with two losses). We have to make some adjustments and we have to make some improvements. The mentality has to change a little bit playing against these teams. These teams are physical, tough-minded and hard-nosed type of teams and we have to make some decisions. This is what they (Cavs) do and we have to try to step up to match that. That’s not part of our DNA. We have to step up and match that and still play skillful basketball.”

(On what happened down the stretch):
“There were a couple of assignments defensively and there were little things and fundamentals will bite you.”

(On difference in Cavs winning twice vs. Lakers vs. last season when Lakers swept Cavs):
“Last year, we were probably a little hungrier and played a little harder. This year, they were the hungrier team. I think they sensed that they want to win a championship and want to go after it, so they’re playing with a sense of urgency that we played with last year.”


PAU GASOL
(On his two missed free throws and the sequence):
“I let a couple of actions carry over in my mind. I wasn’t able to be effective in the last four minutes. When I got to the line, I was still thinking a couple of times that I could have finished a play and I let it linger in my head. Obviously, it had a total negative effect. Hopefully, the next time I am in that position and things don’t work out a couple of times, I’m able to shake that off and step up to the plate and convert whatever the situation is.”

(On late foul, Artest on Varejao on free throw attempt):
“I think Varejao came in really hard on the rebound and then he said that Ron grabbed him on the shirt. I didn’t see that, but it could have gone either way. But, the referee called it that way. We should have boxed him out better and kept him out of the lane. There were two guys there trying to pinch him, the ball bounced over our heads and it went kind of his way and he got it.”