Q: Did you know, and if so, when did you know that your team would be okay emotionally after what happened Tuesday night?
Brown: I didn't know if we would play great, but I think I told everybody that very few times, I've been around pro athletes where they didn't give their best, teams I've coached. And this team, I knew we'd play hard and try to play the right way.
I didn't think we played the right way the first half. We had five assists. Our guards didn't have any. I thought we defended great. I was a little disappointed. I thought our effort was great, but we were trying to win by ourselves in some cases offensively. But I knew we'd play hard.
Q: I know you wanted to win the ballgame, but how surprised are you at the way you dominated the Lakers?
Brown: Oh, I'm shocked. But, I mean, we played so good defensively. You know, we kept people in front of us, we limited them to one shot for the most part. We kept people off the free-throw line. I think one of the keys to keeping any team off the line is being able to prevent dribble penetration off fast break opportunities and we did that. We did that in Game 1.
In Game 2, I thought that they controlled those areas. So I'm shocked. I'm a big fan of the Lakers. It's difficult with Karl's situation. I'm aware of that. It is certainly not the same team without Karl Malone, and that's disappointing. But I'm really proud of the way we played.
Q: What do you expect from the Lakers in Game 4?
Brown: I don't even want to think about it. God, you guys, I almost committed suicide on the flight back from L.A., and tried to get over that. I'm going to enjoy this.
I always say this. My wife is here. I don't get to see her a lot. I get to hug my kids.
But to really answer your question, they are a special team. They have a special coach... I don't think they have panicked. I've watched all the playoff games. When I'm sitting here and telling you guys I felt our team would be ready to play, I have no doubt that they will be ready to play. They have got some prideful guys, and we're going to have to play our best game the next one.
Q: Tayshaun said when you and Chauncey play like you did tonight, you guys are a great team, would you agree with that?
Hamilton: I believe we are a great team anyway. (Smiles).
I think when me and Chauns are on, it's hard to stop us, especially when we take good shots. I think tonight, we really let the offense dictate our shots. We really never went out of it to take shots and try to go individually one-on-one and things like that. Everybody did a great job of setting us up. Chauns really executed well on the pick-and-roll and made shots. He passed when he had to pass, and you need that from your point guard.
Q:Shaquille said that most of this outcome was effort related, do you agree with that, and how were you able to beat them to the punch so often after what happened Tuesday night?
Hamilton: I I think tonight we really came out and played with a lot of energy. We really fed off our fans. I think we did a great job of playing connected, playing together on both ends of the floor. We shared the ball. Everybody had each other's back on the defensive end. I think guys did a great job tonight of really playing together.
Coach said at halftime he wanted to strangle you, why was that?
Hamilton: I don't know. Coach was telling me to slow down. You know, he makes me see the game at a whole new different level. That's the one thing I respect about him, because he's just not going to let me go out there and do what I want to do. Sometimes it's harsh, and I get upset and he gets upset. But for the most part, he's just doing that to help me. He just told me to slow down and let the offense dictate my shots and keep moving out the ball.
Q: Could you talk about the morale of the team after Game 2 and the way you responded tonight?
Billups: Well, it was a heartbreaker to lose that game, being in control with 30 seconds left. We've lost some tough ones this year and come back that next game and played a little flat, and today -- we learned from that.... We learned form our past experiences earlier in the season and we came out very aggressive. We knew this team would come in our first home game and be very aggressive and try to push the tempo a little bit. They did that, we had them scouted well. It was just a combined effort from everybody. Tayshaun was phenomenal doing a defensive job tonight in limiting Kobe to only 13 shots.
Q: You guys controlled pretty much the majority of the minutes in the three games this series. Do you guys feel like you guys are the better team thus far?
Billups: Well, we know we're playing against a great team. We just don't want to give them too much momentum. We feel as a unit, we are a great unit. We play together, we know that they have got some great individual players that are almost unstoppable to play one-on-one. But for us, we've just got a great unit. We can hurt you in so many different ways. Rip can get going. Rasheed can get going. Tay hits big shots. I can get going. Our bench is very good.
Just as a team, I think we are just a very, very good basketball team.
Q: Don't you get tired? I mean, you're running after Kobe the whole game, and running for the breaks and shooting 3-pointers. What's your energy like during the game?
Prince: Definitely I was a little tired today. But, I mean, this is the Finals. You've got to fight through that. We've come a long way, so for the most part, everybody just got to go -- and especially coming from the West Coast the night before last, and we've had a long flight. For us to come out and respond the way we did today was good, and we've got a big game coming on Sunday because they are going to come out and playing tougher than they did tonight.
Q: Have you done enough study of Kobe to know when the ball fake is coming and when he is actually shooting? That seems to be one of the problem when people defend him.
Prince: For the most part, he has so many different moves. He just got to stay on the ground. For the most part by me being long and having a long wingspan, I think if I do stay down and contest it, if he makes it, that's a tough shot. So just got to stay on the ground because he's just got so many different moves.
Q: Being from L.A., did you grow up rooting for the Lakers, and what is it like playing against your hometown team? Is there any emotional things on your part or more motivation on your part?
Prince: Definitely it's been a fun experience just to get to the Finals, most importantly, but second of all, playing against the Lakers is unbelievable. I was a big-time Laker fan growing up. Magic Johnson was my idol. When the later part of the team came, Kobe was my idol. It's definitely an opportunity to play against these guys and for the most part, you know, just being here for the Finals is a great experience. So definitely got to cherish this and definitely don't take it for granted because you don't know if you'll be back.
Q: Do you think what happened in Game 2 motivated you for tonight?
Wallace: I told you Game 2 wasnít going to bother us. We were just anxious to get back out there because we let the game slip away in Game 2.
Q: How good were the Pistons defensively?
Wallace: We were decent. I think there are still areas where we need to get better. I think they penetrate and get to the paint a little too easy. We have to force them to shoot over the top more, and, for the most part, we did pretty good.
Q: How do you respond to people saying it is bad offense, not good defense?
Wallace: We are just going to let them talk. There is nothing we can really do about that. We are still going to go out and play our game. Bad offense or good defense, we are still going to go out there and play hard for 48 minutes and give ourselves every opportunity to win the game.
Q: How do you feel about the two-day break?
Wallace: If you had to go out there and guard Shaq for 40-plus minutes, youíd like the two-day layoff, too.
Q: How was the crowd tonight?
Wallace: The crowd got involved in the game early. This crowd was big for us tonight all night from start to finish. All season they have been coming out here and supporting us. I just cannot say enough about this crowd.
Q: What did Larry Brown say after Game 2?
Wallace: He didnít have to say too much, because we were hungry.
Q: What did he say on the floor tonight?
Wallace: Stay together. Donít let that destroy what we try to do because we got that loss in L.A. That was a good shot Kobe hit Ė canít take that away from him.
Q: You werenít lying when you said you werenít afraid of the Lakers.
Wallace: Theyíre human. They bleed just like us.
Q: How do you handle the situation now that youíre so close, but yet so far?
Wallace: Take one game at a time. Weíre not looking at the championship here. Weíre looking at Sunday and we know theyíre going to make some adjustments, so weíre going to have to come out and play basketball like weíve been doing.
LOS ANGELES LAKERS
Jackson: I didn't feel like we reacted very well to the game today. Detroit beat us to the basketball. Second chance points was a big factor in this game tonight. At halftime I told the team, I don't think we can play any worse than we played this first half as far as shooting the ball and executing in the open floor.
But we tried hard the second half to duplicate it.
As I told the team, this is only one game, we're out here to win a game, and we'll find our opportunities. We have a couple days off to get our feet on the ground and get ready for Game 4.
Q: Are they changing up defense on Kobe or is this basically what he's been looking at?
Jackson: No, that's what he's been looking at. He had a hard time shooting. This is a tough background to shoot in, it's a different one, and the basket, he had a few things that didn't go down for him; didn't get to the line too often.
Q: What did you see from Shaq tonight?
Jackson: Say again?
Q: What did you see from Shaq tonight?
Jackson: Well, he couldn't get a break in the second half. You know, he got an offensive foul and a guy came over his back and knocked it away and he lost it. He even lost a couple of balls that he had inside and couldn't control the ball when he would get it inside. There were four or five opportunities in the interior when he had the ball and things just didn't go right for him. He didn't get a whole lot on the offensive boards tonight, either. Those things hampered his effectiveness and he got in foul trouble and things like that happen.
Q: What did you see out of Karl tonight and how do you go on with him, similar sort of put him up against Rasheed and we rest him when Rasheed sits?
Jackson: You know, he looked like he was struggling out there tonight, I thought, in the second half. First half, I was content with the way he played. He gave us an effort, not everything worked well for him. He did get a call going to the basket and did looked like he got fouled and he played on through it and he didn't lose his composure out there.
The second half I didn't think he got loose. He just didn't get warmed up. The game was deteriorating quickly around him and we had to have some pressure up court and I opted not to push him any farther than that. We were pleased with the effort he could give.
Q: With all that's at stake here, how do you explain what appeared to be a pretty flat effort overall?
Bryant: What it boiled down to is we didn't execute and we let them rush us into decisions. Offensively, they didn't shoot the ball particularly well, but we gave them a lot of second chance opportunities and we put them to the line a lot.
Q: How similar is this situation to when you guys were down 2-0 to San Antonio, except for maybe the difference that Malone is injured now?
Bryant: No, I think we can use the San Antonio series as -- for experience in this type of situation.
You know, we're faced with a heck of a challenge right now, being down 2-1 and to have two games coming up on their home floor. This is a good crowd and they feed off of that a lot.
Yeah, we can draw off the San Antonio series for experience, absolutely.
Q: Can you talk about Rip's night offensively, particularly.
Bryant: Yeah, he got into a groove. Got some break-out opportunities, and he was able to get his jumpshot going and he was in a good flow tonight.
Q: Why was it so difficult for to you find shot opportunities for yourself tonight?
Bryant: Well, for the most part, tonight I was attacking 30 feet from the basket. I mean, that's something Phil and I talked about after the game is, me not having to attack 30 feet from the basket, doing some things in our execution to give me sharper opportunities and quicker opportunities.
Q: There was a lot of talk after Game 2 about how the Pistons were able to bounce back. Did any of that surprise you the way the Pistons came out right from the start?
Bryant: No. Larry Brown's teams always bounce back. Every team he coaches, they fight hard and they play hard. Somehow it didn't surprise me at all.
Q: After you almost lost Game 2, just about everybody thought you would come out and take control in this game. What happened?
George: Iím not sure, really, what happened. Obviously, they got a good jump on us early, like an 8-0 start. They were aggressive tonight and things just fell their way.
Q: When you look at whatís ahead now, whatís the biggest challenge to getting this thing back on track?
George: Really, weíve just got to think about winning a game here. Just take the next one and learn from our mistakes and things that we did wrong today; watch film and Ö Iím not sure if weíll watch film this week; disgusting watching it Ö but we know what weíve got to do. We just have to get a game here and we have to focus on Sundayís game.
Q: Sixty-eight points is an all-time low in the playoffs for the Lakers franchise. Are you guys off-track offensively, or is it their defense?
George: Like I said, I think itís a combination of both. Theyíre aggressive on defense and itís a combination of us and them.
Q: Is there any doubt beginning to set in, in your minds?
George: No, not at all. Little things can change the whole series around. Again, we get one game on Sunday and weíre going back home and we got home court, again.
Q: How did your knee affect you? How does it feel?
Malone: Well, you know, I played. We didnít play well as a team. When I put that uniform on you have to go out there and play, no excuses. We just, as a team, didnít play well all night and they did. They got to every loose ball and everything. They came out aggressive from the start and we had opportunities in the first half, then it got worse from there.
Q: They controlled the boards as well and that seemed like a big key.
Malone: Yeah, they did. Itís a team effort. All of us have to do it and we didnít. We canít depend on Shaq to get every rebound. Slava rebounded well for us and, other than that, I donít know if we gave him much help.
Q: Kobe didnít get many shots tonight, he only took 13 shots.
Malone: But you know, we all tend to sit around and watch him, and, as great as he is, you canít allow yourself to do that; yet, we always do. He was distributing the basketball and doing a lot of other things.
Q: Is it an urgent time now?
Malone: Itís urgent, but we are just trying to win one game. Of course, we would love [Game 3] but weíre not thinking about that. Weíre just trying to get one ball game and the sooner the better.
Q: Was it hard getting the knee warmed up after halftime?
Malone: I really never got it warmed the whole time. I just fight through it. But no matter what, when I put that uniform on I have to be the best that I can be. Some nights your mind tells you one thing and your body canít respond, and itís disappointing that I let my teammates down like that.
Q: What happened to the momentum that you seemed to have at the end of Game 2, and how much of tonight was effort related?
O'Neal: I think most of it was effort related. They beat us to everything tonight on those balls, played a little bit better defense and once again, we had a horrible third quarter, but this is only one game. We know how to bounce back and now we just need to bounce back. We just need to try to get a win here.
Q: You only shot a couple of free throws and those were on an offensive foul on the other end. What's going on with your game? Are you not getting the ball down low? I know you're surrounded, but what are you seeing?
O'Neal: I mean, I took 14 shots. I think that's the first time in two years I only went to the line once.
But I thought I was getting bumped, but maybe not, so I'll be looking forward to getting to the line the next game.
Q: You've been in the Finals four times in the past five years, is this your toughest challenge?
O'Neal: It's a very tough challenge but I think we're making it more tough on ourselves. You know, we've got to give them all of the credit in the world but we're just going right into their hands, turning the ball over, not rebounding well. You know, once we dig deep down and pick it up, we can get right back in there.
Q: Talk about Karl Malone and not having Karl in the lineup when he's hurt, like tonight.
O'Neal: Karl showed a lot of guts. He's obviously hurt out there. He's limping up and down. But, you know, we've just got to do the things that we're supposed to do, and we've played three games and we really haven't done it yet, so we just need to go back and look at some more film and just dig deep down. We still have a couple of chances to get back in the game but we just shot ourselves in the foot and they just played great. They just fed off the energy of their crowd and they played a little bit better than we did today.
Q: It just seems like they are dictating the pace of the game, what's going on on the court? And sometimes it looks like the Lakers do not react well and the game seems to slip away.
O'Neal: They are just playing with a lot of energy. You know, they are shooting the ball well, you know, they are rebounding, and we've just got to do the little things. I think once we focus on the little things, we can get right back to it.
Q: There was a certain part of the game when you were getting the ball down low and you were scoring every time, and then it seems like you guys went away from that.
O'Neal: Yeah. The story of my life, buddy. (Laughter).
Q: Can you still dominate the Finals the way you used to?
O'Neal: Yeah, I've got to get it, though. I think if I'm getting looks and touches, then yeah, of course, like especially if they are playing me one-on-one, of course. No question.
Q: You guys are trying to pull this offense --
O'Neal: Who are you?
Q: Not telling.
O'Neal: I can't answer your question then.
Q: You guys have Luke on the floor, Kareem Rush on the floor, how are you going to pull this offense together against a defense as aggressive as this one? What's going to have to happen in the next couple of days?
O'Neal: Guys are going to have to take care of the ball. I would personally like to see a guy like Bryon Russell get it. He's been in the League nine years. Great shooter, pretty good defensive player, has been to the Finals twice. I don't have an understanding of why he's not in the game. But we have a lot of veterans on this team, I would like to see them in the lineup against a tough aggressive defense like this.