Mike, what did you think about tonight?
Yeah, I don’t think we had any lulls at all. We missed some shots where we could’ve blown out a little earlier, but they kept battling, especially on the defensive end. When we didn’t do things right offensively, got a little stagnant, this and that, maybe forced some stuff, had some early turnovers, we hit enough shots to keep us there. But I thought our defense kept us to where we could get a little offensive run.
You’ve been talking a lot of playing all four quarters. Is this the closest they’ve done since you’ve been here to doing that?
“I thought our recent lackadaisical, lethargic play always happens. I was trying to make sure they understand what I want. We’re not there yet. We’re not even close to being a good team, but we have had signs and I hope we can build on that. We’re going to Philadelphia and we’ve got to get one more. The most irritating thing was that we got away from what we were doing. We started thinking instead of playing. I told them at halftime that we’re not a good enough team to just have two minutes where we just kind of rest. It’s all about them getting used to the system. Again, we’re changing a lot. We’re changing habits that were ingrained in a lot of players. And we’re doing all of this without a training camp. That’s an excuse, but that’s where we are. We will attack it every day with film and talking. We’ll work on it.”
A lot of people would expect for your game to fall off, it’s got to at some point, all the miles and everything else, but it doesn’t seem like that’s happening at all.
No, actually, my wind feels even better. I feel like I can run all day long. A lot of that has to do with diet and being committed to it, and watching what I eat. Back here in Philly, you have cheesesteaks, and you’re like…
Were you tempted to?
Yeah, but when I eat poorly, I can feel it. You feel heavy and sluggish, and I just can’t do it.
Is this one of the better games you guys had as a team this year?
Yeah, we really have an understanding now of how Mike [D’Antoni} wants us to play. Just move without the ball, attack when you have it and hit the open three.
On playing a high amount of minutes:
“I’m just not tired. I’m sore, but I’m just in really good condition. I’m just not tired. If you have the opportunity during the game to sit me, then sit me, but I’m not tired.”
A lot of people thought the team has all the monies invested in the starters. You’ve got these great All-Star starters, you had no bench. But now [Jodie] Meeks looks like he can play, tonight [Darius] Morris looks like he can play. Through all these trials, have you maybe found a bench you can use down the stretch?
Yeah, the key is to allow them to go play, let them feel comfortable taking shots, making plays, moving the ball quickly, and because of that, they’re playing loose and playing free.
You played in Philadelphia, so you know that these fans respect teams that win. What was it like to come out and play against some of your friends?
It was a little awkward at first. I spent three years of my career here. It was nice to be out on the same court as them. I had to control my emotions, I didn’t know whether to be too hype or too sad or too excited, but I’m glad I was able to help my team to a win.
Well, as I had talked to you before the game, this is one of the best offensive teams in the NBA, and, first half, 10 threes. Kobe [Bryant], spectacular. As I talked about, I was concerned Kobe hit his and others still scoring. That’s what happened at halftime, 18 for Kobe, 10 threes for the rest of the team. We let [Darius] Morris come off the bench, have 15 in the first half, and we just can’t do that. Ron Artest [Metta World Peace] is playing as well as I’ve seen him play. He’s playing great basketball, shooting the ball, I think he had a career high rebounds today, plays terrific defense. He’s really playing well for them. You know what Kobe can do on a nightly basis. They spread you, they shoot the threes, that’s what Mike D’Antoni has always done, and unfortunately, right now, we are struggling mightily to defend the three. I think we were outscored 25 points tonight from the three point line and the free throw line. I think over our last few losses, we’ve been minus-15, minus-9 at the three and minus-6 at the foul line. That’s tough to overcome and so we’re going to have to figure it out, what we’re going to have to do to try to slow these guys down shooting threes. Last year, we were one of the best three-point defensive teams in the league. Obviously, we’ve lost some key defenders and some speed, and we’ve not been able to figure it out yet.
Is it the speed mostly on the rotation that you’re lacking, is that what you’re seeing on the three pointers?
Talking. You know, guys not talking. I talked to them this morning at shootaround. Until we want to embrace that and talk, we’re going to be on roller skates. Whether it be speed, whether it be in the right spot, whether it be stunting at a guy, getting back, whatever. Until we start communicating on the floor with one another...we’ve got like seven new guys, and so we’ve got to get to know each other. It’s interesting, the Lakers were doing to us tonight on the three point line what we had planned on doing. The running and jumping that we worked on, but you’ve got to trust each other.
On the Sixers defense…
From last year?
I think he was talking about probably earlier this year too…
I think one thing is we’re missing Jrue Holiday and that’s been since we’re all asked to do different things. I used to start off on a better perimeter to kind of slow it down a little bit and Jrue had the point guard. We threw Nick [Young] into the shuffle, and he’s just trying to get acclimated, and you know, teams hitting shots and playing well. Tonight, eight or nine of them were getting crazy shots. When they’re playing well you give credit to them but at the same time I think it’s little stuff like intensity and communication.
It’s difficult defending that three point line, because that used to be one of this team’s strengths…
[Darn] shots are going in. That’s what’s difficult. When you give any shooters confidence, that brings a whole league of trouble. Ron Artest came out, and didn’t even blink, he hit three threes. That’s sometimes a shot you don’t want him to take. Darius Morris hit some, Jodie [Meeks] hit some, Kobe. And [Chris] Duhon, he played great. I don’t know if he’s hit four threes since his freshman year at Duke. When people get hot, you’ve got to take your hat off to them, but it makes the game way harder, especially with the great players they have there.
Doug talked an awful lot about, defensively, just the team not being where it needs to be in order to win. What are you seeing differently defensively that’s going on right now?
You know, it’s just a tough team to play. They were making unbelievable shots. Kobe was being Kobe. Their whole team, they just played well tonight, knocked down a lot of big threes. That kind of spread the floor open, it’s hard to try to double team Dwight [Howard] when they’re hitting threes like that.