Taylor
You watch the games, you see the scores, but how do you really know what's going on in NBA Playoffs 2004? NBA.com has infiltrated the action with the ultimate insiders -- the players themselves. We're giving you an exclusive look at the postseason with a roster of player mailboxes.

Houston's Maurice Taylor has emerged as one of the top reserves in the league. Send Mo a question via e-mail and we'll post his answers to the best questions at least once for each round the Rockets reach.

Taylor answered your first round of questions on Thursday, April 22:

Q: What defensive strategy will you use to stop "SHAQ and KOBE"?
-- Chris (Chicago)

Taylor: The best defense to use on two players as talented as Shaq and Kobe is a defense that consists of helping, sinking down, sagging and constant concentration on those guys.

Q: How has VanGundy been as a coach this year compared to Rudy??
-- Chip (Fredericktown, Ohio)

Taylor: In my opinion Van Gundy has been great. He's really picked up the intensity and courage of our team. He's a real stickler for practice and he's been a really good influence on all of us.

Q: How will back-to-back games against the same team help Yao (and others) to make adjustments to his game?
-- Wes (Houston)

Taylor: We can watch film and see what's happened from one game to the next. Playing the same opponent helps you out because you learn tendencies and things they like to do.

Q: Mo, do you attribute more of your success this year to coming off the bench to provide an offensive spark, or do you feel it's because you've finally regained your health, strength and quickness?
-- Toast (Houston)

Taylor: I think it's a little of all of the above. I feel like I've regained my quickness. My injury took a lot away from me the last couple of years before this year. I'm feeling healthy and Jeff gives me the green light off the bench, so I like that.

Q: What are some of things you are doing to prepare yourself mentally & physically being this is the first time you're in the postseason?
-- Abel (Dallas)

Taylor: I like to listen to a lot of music before the game and take care of my body by eating right and doing a lot of stretching.

Q: What do you think is the key to beating the Lakers?
-- David (Houston)

Taylor: We have to believe in ourselves and believe in the team we have in that locker room, that we can go out and compete with these guys and beat them on any given night.

Q: How much does losing the first two games affect your mindset?
-- Will (Los Angeles)

Taylor: It upsets you because obviously you want to win, but despite losing the first two games we know the series is a best four out of seven. So this series is not over yet. It was frustrating losing those two games, but we feel we're ready to bounce back Friday.