Q: Talk about Rasheed and how huge he was tonight for you.
Brown: Somebody said he was going to get 20 tonight. He was great on both ends. You know, we got a little out of sync at times offensively, especially in the first half about sharing it, and again, we had five assists. But the second half, Chauncey and Rip and Tayshaun came off screens and gave it up and made him a factor. I think he got going when he got that offensive rebound when he followed his shot in, but he had great looks. Obviously, Karl being out, you know, impacts the Lakers defensively against him. But he was great.
I'm really proud of him.
Q: What did you tell the team afterwards about being in a situation up 3-1 and only needing one more game to clinch it?
Brown: I haven't been there (laughing).
I told them how proud I was of them. I told them the only guy that's been here longer than me was Elden, and not being in this situation. But, no matter how you look at it, you've got to win four games in a series, and that's what we talked about. I wanted them to enjoy tonight and we're going to go practice tomorrow and try to get ready for Game 5.
Q: Are you concerned that the players will read tomorrow and hear tonight that no team has come back from 3-1 in the Finals and maybe get a little too ahead of themselves?
Brown: I like it better the way it is, to be honest with you. (Laughter).
I've been in the other locker room and it's -- you know, all I'm telling them is, we've got to continue to try to play the right way and defend and rebound and share the ball. And whatever happens, happens. I think that group can deal with it because they are trying their darnest to do it the right way. So there's no need even thinking about what no team did. They have got a coach who won nine championships; only one other guy has done that, and he's pretty special. They have got two of the greatest players in the game that are in their prime, so we can't take anything for granted, and that's the thing we are going to talk about.
Q: It seemed like today there was a big change in your strategy, everyone says Detroit is a slowed-down, control-the-tempo team and this must be the game in the playoffs where you had the most fast-break points. Was there a point you realized the Lakers were tired, Shaq wasn't getting back and you said to your team, let's play fast or let's move it up court more?
Brown: I always want us to run every chance we get. I don't think you can run unless you get people to take outside shots, but we're trying to run Shaq. As many minutes as he has to play, we're trying to run him on every possession. We are trying to get it down quickly so we have more time to use the clock on every possession.
But tonight, you're right, we got on the break a little bit more than I can remember. Mike James came in the game and we had about two or three straight breaks, but they usually come after a contested outside shot.
Q: Down the stretch some of their veteran players made some costly fouls, Kobe had the technical, how critical were some of those plays to the end result?
Brown: Well, I mean, we got to the line a lot. The first half, we're out of the game if we didn't go to the free throw line. But we kind of got a little carried away ourselves. Rip got a couple. Chauncey picked up a cheap one. Any easy points down the stretch kill you, and I think both teams maybe gave easy points up at a time like that.
I just look at Kobe and those guys, they are trying to win. They want to win the game. I don't think there was anything but a kid trying to compete and win the game.
Q: Can you talk about what was said amongst you guys after this win and how important Tuesday is, being that it's at home? I'm sure you guys would like to get it done here.
Billups: Yeah, we came in the locker room, of course were happy. Of course we're happy that we won this game. We thought this was the biggest game of the series, so we came out and won. I thought we had a bad first half. We just said, you know, we're not there yet. We're playing against a team that has been here plenty of times. Been here plenty of times and they are not going to panic. They are going to come out and play, obviously with a sense of urgency on Tuesday. So, you know, we just basically said, you know, there's no time to celebrate. There's no time to celebrate. Come in tomorrow and see what we didn't do in the first half and try to fix that, and you know, come out and play 48 hours from now.
Q: Talk about the key rebounding for you guys and the need for Rasheed tonight.
Billups: Well, one of the constants that we've had in this series is rebounding. We've outrebounded that team and I think that's why we control the tempo so much because we can get rebounds. We make hustle plays.
I knew it was just a matter of time that Sheed was going to get going. He was going to get going, and tonight no better night, no better night. He gave us the option to throw that thing in there, and we're coming in with a double, and we've got great shooters. When he's rolling and you've got Rip rolling and hitting shots and myself, we're tough to play. And we are playing defense the way that we do, so we are just tough to play when we can get Sheed going like that.
Q: Kobe, it seemed, was guarding either yourself or Rip Hamilton tonight. Were you guys going every time to the other guy, the guy that Kobe was not defending and trying to use that mismatch?
Billups: Not really. We were not trying to attack any match-ups except for -- we were trying to force feed Rasheed. But me and Rip, we are running the same plays no matter who is guarding who, you know. We'll run pick-and-rolls or we'll run his pin-downs. We wasn't trying to attack the other guy, because when we start -- one thing we found out through the season is when we start trying to attack mismatches, we forget about the flow and our plays and what we really can do, so we don't do that.
Q: Are you surprised at all by the way the Lakers are not adjusting to your offense? This is Game 4 and even in the first half when you missed shots, you had good shots.
Hamilton: I think the thing with us, we're really moving the ball. I think guys are really playing together. When they try to take one option away, of course -- when they take something away, then we have a second and third option and that's what we have been trying to do all season and it's really working right now.
Q: Would you agree that the two big keys so far have been Chauncey Billups, MVP of the Finals, dominating the opposition or the difference in team unity in all aspects, offense, defense, rebound, everything? It's just so obvious that your team unit is at another level compared to the Lakers.
Hamilton: Well, Chauncey has been huge. He's been big. He's definitely been leading us in the right direction. Offensively and defensively, he's knowing when to shoot, knowing when to pass, knowing when to get the guys involved and things like that. You know, we definitely come together. We come together for one common goal and that's to win.
We do a good job of really playing together and staying on the chain, helping each other out, not just on the defensive end but the offensive end, too. We're really taking our time and good things are happening for us.
Q: Do you think that generally, you guys wear them down as the games go on, and specifically, do you think they lost their composure in the fourth quarter tonight?
Hamilton: I don't know. You know, I think with the Lakers being on the West Coast, they want to get up and down. They want we want them to try to get up and down but make them work for every possession, we don't want them do to get the fast break and get easy baskets. Shaq, we try to make him run. He's the most dominant player in the League so you try to get him going up and down the floor and things like that.
Like I said, I think the fourth quarter, both teams tried to take it to another level. We made shots, we took our time and executed.
Q: Tuesday night, with you guys on the verge, what you have to do to keep the calmness, because butterflies and being too excited can sometimes be a factor, what are you guys going to have to do?
Hamilton: We just have to come out, stay poised really feed off our crowd. I think our crowd has been amazing since we've been playing here. I think we do a good job of that. I think we know what we want. I think the guys on this team, we won tonight, but we know we've got to win another one. I think we all prepare for that, to be focused and really all help each other out in getting everybody's mind right so we can come out and play on Tuesday.
Q: Youíre one game away now, can you sense it?
Prince: Weíve got one game and definitely weíve got to take advantage of it. Like I said before, weíre facing a team thatís been here a lot of times, five or six years, and they know what it takes. Itís important for us to come out aggressive in the next game, and definitely tonight the game was very pivotal.
Q: Talk about Rasheed Wallace.
Prince: Rasheed played unbelievable. We havenít been getting him the ball that much. Today we got him the ball on a consistent basis. When you get the ball five or six trips in a row, then youíve got a rhythm, and when youíve got a rhythm, itís tough to stop you.
Q: Talk about guarding Kobe Bryant tonight.
Prince: For four games now, Iím going to say the same thing over again: just trying to make him take tough shots. And I tried not to let him in the paint too much because he can create for himself and his teammates. I just have to stay in front of him and make him shoot over me.
Q: Has it hit you that you are one game away from a championship?
Wallace: Once we got to the Finals, we knew weíre close to winning. Right now, we just need to find a way to win one more game, and we can all realize our childhood dreams.
Q: How big was Rasheed tonight?
Wallace: He was big for us. For the first time in this series, he was able to stay out of foul trouble. I think the Lakers were playing well, but they really hadnít had to deal with Rasheed in the post before. He was able to get down there and get some guys in foul trouble, hit some shots and make plays for his teammates. I hope everybody is starting to realize how important he is to this team.
Q: People used to say you didn't like to go down to the post, but you're kind of living down there, do you feel that's a misperception of you or you've changed what you're doing?
Wallace: No, hell, yeah, it's a misperception. When I was in high school and North Carolina, it wasn't called for me to go out on a wing. I didn't start going out on the wing till I played in Portland at the 3. So I don't know where you got that from.
Q: Your image has been very negative in the media and with the referees, but it seems now that we've met you, it seemed somewhat uncalled for. Is this your ultimate moment of glory till you win the title, this game, your performance and team performance? Is this moment right now your ultimate get-back on all of that bad stuff that's been said about you in the past?
Wallace: So you think that if we do win it Tuesday or whatever, you think y'all are still going to write nothing bad about me? (Laughter).
That doesn't brother me, man, because like my mom always told me, 50 percent of the people love you , 50 percent hate you. So what y'all write about me is, it's all like water off a duck's back, man.
Q: How much did that little confrontation with Medvedenko light a fire under you, because you went at him about five times in a row next five possessions and scored some points?
Wallace: It was actually unnecessary. He threw a little elbow shot, which is cool by me, but, hey, if that's how he wants to play, then I can play like that, too. But I'm not out there to throw elbows and all of that. I'm out there to try to help my team win. All that extracurricular stuff can be handled in the back there.
Q: It seemed like you just took over the game, you felt that Karl was a little hobbled on his legs and you just went after him time and time again. I followed your career for years, including when you were in Portland, it just seemed like you -- you just took over. How did this happen? Besides the fact that the refs let you play.
Wallace: Just playing. I knew Karl was a little hobbled, so that was one of the weaknesses in their defense but that's something that we had to attack, not only with myself, but if Ben had a chance to post-up against them or take them out on a wing, whatever, just got to attack them. He has a bad knee or whatever, so, we can't have no sympathy for that.
We just followed the game plan from the first few games. It was just my night. Actually, my shots was falling a little bit, so, hey, I've got to take that in stride.
LOS ANGELES LAKERS
Jackson: Well, a disappointing night tonight. I thought we played a real good game and got caught offguard in the fourth quarter and were not able to handle the run they made in the fourth quarter sufficiently. And then some foul-shooting put them in a situation where we were playing from behind and not doing a good job of it.
Give credit to the Pistons. They handled the adversity of Shaq's great game and kept their composure and found a way to get to the foul line tonight.
Q: Talk about being in this position and talk about how Karl Malone is.
Jackson: Karl couldn't come back the second half and play with any quickness or reactivity, he couldn't run the court very well, in fact. We had to pull the plug on that experiment sometime early.
I thought he helped us out early in the ballgame. Just his presence out there helped us out and obviously Rasheed had a pretty good ballgame behind his absence.
We as a coaching staff have never been in this position obviously in the playoffs, but our message to this team has been we came here to win a game and bring this series back to L.A. and that's all we're here for. The ultimate goal is to win a game and we're going to stay after that.
Q: You talked about changing the lineups and then you went with the same lineup, what changed your mind?
Jackson: Well, Karl felt that he could give some minutes out there on the floor. He's been debatable about really trying to say that there was a chance that he might be hurting the team, and we just had a short chat before the ballgame. I said, "Go out and try it and see how you feel before the game." He wanted to give it a try, so we stayed with him and gave him a shot.
Q: Given the circumstances, what's the mood like in there and do you have a selling job to do the next two days now to convince them this is not over?
Jackson: Oh, no. They don't feel it's over. They want to shake. These guys want an even shake out there on the floor, so that's the part that is -- my sales job is convincing them to go out there and play a game that they get an even break on the court, and feel like they are not playing from an uphill standpoint.
I tried to point that out at the beginning of the game, that Kobe is getting fouled, he's getting run into, he's getting knocked around and not getting to the foul line. You know, I got a technical early just to prove a point, to make an effort.
I don't think it worked. It was in the first quarter. His first free throws I think were at the end of the game.
Q: I understand you just talked about Kobe not getting to the free throw line, but beyond that, what is happening to his game right now?
Jackson: I think he rushed his shots a little bit. We asked him to be a playmaker early in the ballgame. He rushed some shots early in the game where he got back in the second period. Prince is doing a good job and they are collapsing well on his penetration. You know, he made some shots a little later in the ballgame, but he's not shooting the ball well right now.
Q: Your shooting percentage looks like my shooting percentage. What's going on? The talent is there, the legs are there.
Bryant: Yeah, I've just got to shoot through it. Prince is a long guy. He's able to get his hands up on my arms and my follow-throughs. He's doing a good job staying in front of me.
The next game is not about looking for foul calls or trying to get to the free throw line. It's just about making those shots.
Q: Are they pushing you to certain areas? Do you feel that there's a game plan to take you to certain areas so Rasheed will help because he's long, also, and he kind of grabbed a couple of times, the ball and blocked a shot?
Bryant: They are just running at me. If I get a step, they are just coming. I hit a couple of guys, shots didn't fall. But, yeah, they are just running guys over every time I have a penetration.
But I like the challenge of HORSE if you think you can compete with my shooting percentage. (Laughter).
Q: Down the stretch there was some composure issues for the team, a technical and committing some fouls, how much of a factor was that in the outcome?
Bryant: That was somewhat of a factor. It was Gary's offensive foul, I really didn't see the play. My technical foul, actually, I didn't make any comment towards the referee. It was actually about the particular play. But I guess in the moment he T'd me up.
Q: Magic Johnson had some pretty strong words about the Lakers' effort on Saturday. Was he wrong and what impact did those comments have?
Bryant: I don't even know what he said. What did he say?
Q: He said there wasn't enough effort to win and some guys weren't doing their jobs.
Bryant: We lost, didn't we? (Laughing) I guess we didn't do our jobs. That's all across the board. Did he say anybody in particular? A comment like that, I'll take it all across the board. We all pretty much sucked the last two games and we'll try to do better the next game.
Q: What is the confidence like of this team and the mood of them right now, and what can we look for from you guys on Tuesday night?
Bryant: I think everybody is a little down right now. But the important thing is, we have to win the next game. It's a one-game series. By any means necessary, we have to win the next game and then just go from there.
Q: How would you critique your own shot selection?
Bryant: My shot selection, some of them were good and some of them stunk. That's pretty much every game with me.
Q: Putting the Pistons aside, is Karl Malone's injury the difference between your performances throughout the playoffs and in the Western Conference and now in this series?
Bryant: Yeah, it's a big factor right now. Because he's not able to get out there on the floor and play for us, he does so many great things for us and we're not getting much off the bench with Slava coming in there, he's not been able to knock down shots yet. It's hindered us. Luke is coming in and he's doing an admirable job, but he's playing out of character having to guard Rasheed down there, but he's doing the best job he can.
Yeah, Karl's injury is hurting us right now.
Q: No matter what you tried, you werenít able to overcome their energy and effort.
Fox: I thought it was a little more of their execution. Their defensive and offensive execution was really good tonight and gave them a chance down the stretch, with the amount of free throws that they shot, to win the game.
Q: Did you ever think you would be in this position?
Fox: Well, we never thought weíd be playing as poorly as weíve been playing, either. But thatís the result against a good team like Detroit. If you play below par, you are going to find yourself with less opportunity to win.
Q: Is it a matter of them being a better team?
Fox: Well, we came to get a game here, with thoughts of getting the first one, which would give us a more opportunities. But a game still gives a chance to come home with two games on our home floors. We have one more opportunity to do that. And we are not going to let our focus wane from that being the case on Tuesday.
Q: Will you be able to play next game?
Malone: Thatís Tuesday night. I got a whopping one day to get ready.
Q: Where does the hope come from at this point?
Malone: We just look and see what they did. They shot a lot of free throws. This is the fourth game in a row that theyíve been in the penalty with a lot of time left. They werenít making their shots, but they shot free throws and that kept them in there. Free throws got them momentum with their shots and they made them, but we gave up four, five offensive rebounds early on in the game. Thatís been the trend, free throws and offensive rebounds. But they are capitalizing on it and you donít take nothing away from them.
Q: You guys, backs against the wall, all of the old cliches right now, what's the mood of the team and what will Tuesday be like?
O'Neal: Very upset. You know, we let one slip away. We came out real aggressive and we had it, just in the fourth quarter, we made some mistakes and the fouls went in their favor.
They were able to, you know, win the game, and so the TNT slogan stands true on Tuesday, win or go home, bottom line.
Q: Despite your play tonight, this series could easily be over. Why should anyone think Game 5 will be much different from the first four?
O'Neal: Because we know we can play with this team. We haven't played well yet. We haven't showed it yet. I've been with these guys a long time, and they are not just going to lay down. So we are going to come out in Game 5 and give it all we've got.
Q: How would you assess the veterans' play, particularly down the stretch in the fourth quarter?
O'Neal: I think it was -- I think it was a sloppy fourth quarter for us. We had too many ill-advised shots, we had too many turnovers. Like I said, the fouls went in their favors, and they got to the line early. They shot 19, 20 more free throws than we did.
Q: Can you talk about, not only having to win one, but now you have to win three, and no NBA team has ever done that in this position before, just that challenge that you guys face now?
O'Neal: I mean, it's a big challenge for us. The stage is set. Stage is set. So, we just have to go out and want it.
The pressure is on them. They have to close us out.
Q: When you play the kind of game you did tonight and you still lose, how much does that worry you?
O'Neal: It doesn't worry me at all because I know that my teammates can play better. I know that we all can play better. You know, for the fourth game now, me and Kobe are the only ones that's in double figures, so we've got to find a way to get guys more shots. We've just got to keep playing and limit our mistakes.
Q: You had 11 free throws, a great game but only 11 free throws. They had 35 fouls on the Lakers, do you think it's fair?
O'Neal: It's hard to beat a team when they go to the line 20 more times than you do. But we really can't dwell on that now. We still had major opportunities to win the game.
Q: You went through a couple of long stretches where you did not get the ball and you had made several consecutive shots, were you disappointed by that?
O'Neal: I'm disappointed because you don't write what you see. I'm disappointed in you.
Q: Were you disappointed in the long stretches?
O'Neal: Of course I was.
Q: What do you say to one another in the locker room?
Payton: Weíre mad because we canít play basketball. They are not letting us play basketball, so itís one of those things where we are very angry about that. We just have to find a solution to overcome all of that. We just have to find a solution tomorrow. We need to win on Tuesday. If they win, they are the champs. We need to get a win Tuesday and get it back to L.A.
Q: Has Detroit been the better team?
Payton: They are just out-hustling us. They are not shooting the ball well; they are just out-hustling us. They are getting all the calls. They are shooting too many free throws to our fewer free throws. Itís getting frustrating, but we have to play through it. We just have to play.
Q: What happened out there tonight?
Walton: I donít know what happened out there. Iím confused right now. Iíll have to go back and watch the game.
Q: To what would you attribute the discrepancy in free throws?
Walton: One of our goals coming into the game was to penetrate, and I think we were focused on it. Iím new in this league, so I donít really know whatís going on. Maybe they play better defense than us, I donít know.
Q: What gives you hope to think you have a chance to turn things around?
Walton: Weíve got a great team. Weíve got a lot of guys on this team that are champions. Theyíve been there before and they know what it takes, so if anyone can win three straight I think itís us. Weíre going to have to get this one on Tuesday. Thatís the most important thing, for us to get back home. I donít think weíre out of it.
Q: Is it desperation time, down 3-1?
Walton: It was a little bit of desperation time tonight. We needed tonightís win for a chance to get back home. We came here to grab one game, hopefully two. So, we have one more shot at it.