Q: What went wrong in Game 1 collectively and personally?
TP: They were very very physical. They were much more physical than us; more aggressive. They dominated us on rebounds; we lost the battle of the boards. Thatís where the game was won and lost. Andre Miller also had a great game; he's not really all that known for his outside shot, but I have never seen him shoot the ball as well as he did in Game 1.
Q: And from a personal point of view?
TP: As far as I was concerned, I was much like everyone else. I never got into a good rhythm. We never really had a good quarter. We would play ok for 2 minutes and then badly for 5 minutes. Then of course, there was the 4 th quarter where we shot 4 from 21. We just went cold. It was incredible. And thatís where we lost the game.
Q: Tony, you talked about how physical the match was and the fact that the Nuggets dominated you physically. Marcus Camby said that he didnít think the Spurs were as physical as everyone thinks. What are you thoughts on this, and how will the team react?
TP: We will have to bounce back. I think that Marcus Camby speaks a little too much about the physical nature of our game. Itís obvious that in Game 1 we lacking physically, but I donít think you can say that we are not a physical team. We have a lot of experience; we have already been in a similar situation where we have lost the first game of a Playoff series. We need to show them, we need to react well to this. We have to match them in intensity and energy.
Q: What was the general mood the day after this little nightmare?
TP: We were disappointed. We felt as though we hadnít played at our level and how we are capable of playing. We missed lots of easy shots; I missed 3 or 4 of my favorite shot, the Ďtear dropí; Tim missed some easy lay-ups. Even if we were playing badly, with 2 minutes remaining in the game, we still had the lead. We felt as though we had pretty much handed them the game on a plate.
Tony Parker (Brian Bahr/NBAE/Getty)
Q: One of the teamsí strengths is in being able to close out games. What was missing down the stretch? Were you nervous as a team?
TP†: No it wasnít a question of being nervous. We didnít make big shots, they did. They hit some big shots down the stretch; Boykins, Carmelo. Over the last 2 minutes everything was going down for them. Thatís how it can be in the playoffs; thereís a very thin line between winning and losing. But when you think about it, despite our poor shooting we still held the lead with a minute left, we just have to regroup and play better in Game 2
Q†: The Nuggets havenít had such a great season, yet they have beaten you twice during the regular season. How can you explain that?
TP†: Its true they beat us twice but on both occasions, we were without Manu Ginobili and Tim Duncan. Itís just one of those teams who plays well against us and matches up well. They are very athletic and they have big bodies. The have Marcus Camby, Nene Hilario and Kenyon Martin inside. They have good outside players too with Carmelo Anthony also being a big three. Each time they play us they seem to play well. I donít think it will change our strategy in any way. We just have to play our game, stick to our game plan and hit our shots in the fourth quarter.
Q: What is the recipe to beat this Denver Nuggets team?
TP: We have to match them in energy and intensity and be just as aggressive as them.
Q: Game 1 against Denver brings back memories of Game 1 against Phoenix in the 2003 Playoffs where you lost the game on the buzzer. Do you think this Denver teams is the hardest First-Round match-up you have had to face?
TP†: I donít know. It does remind me of Phoenix. They had beaten us 3-1 during the regular season. They had played really well against us. There are clearly similarities between the two series. Phoenix played us the same way, very physical. They were also very athletic and they were able to defend us well. So we find ourselves in a similar situation. We have to respect our opponents and understand that it will be a tough series.
Q†: Is Tim Duncan 100% or is he still hurting†?
TP†: I think Tim is at around 80%. He hasnít totally recovered from his ankle injury. It will take some time, but I think he will get stronger as the series goes on.
Q: As Tim gets back to full fitness, do you have added responsibilities on the offensive end of the floor?
TP†: No we will as normal. The first option i always to get the ball inside. Everything goes through Tim in the first instance. The fact that he may only be at 0% fitness woní change anything. I have less opportunities to score compared to when Tim isnít there, but I still have to play my game and ensure the ball gets to Tim.
Q: Do you not think that perhaps the Spurs were a little over confident going into this series?
TP: I doní really know. I got the feeling that everyone was concentrated and focused but perhaps we didnít realize quite how strong Denver was physically.
Itís just like the series against Phoenix; now we have to bounce back.
Q: Do you think that this First Round will be the most difficult and that moving on, things will be less difficult?
TP: We arenít looking any further ahead than the next game on Wednesday. We have to win. Then we will see.
Q†: Your critics after Game 1 were less than kind, does this put you under even more pressure†?
TP: As point guard, I have to accept a lot of the criticism. It will always be the case with the major players like Tim, Manu and myself. It doesnít get to me though, people talk a lot. Thatís how it is; its part of the job. All you can do is go out there and prove the critics wrong.
Q: Does this put you under more pressure?
TP: No, I will just continue to play as I have during the regular season.
Q: You were saying that Denver were very physical. Do you think they can maintain this style of play for the entire series?
TP: Yes I think they can because thatí their style of play. Theyíre always aggressive in the boards. Their strength does not lie in their outside shooting. So we can expect them to play hard inside for the entire series.
Q: The 17 missed shots; do you feel this was completely one off and wonít happen again? Can we compare this with similar scoring droughts against the Lakers, Nets or Mavericks in previous years?
TP: I donít compare too much. Each season is different. There can be similarities in the way the team plays, but we have many different players now compared to 2003. Itís difficult to make a comparison.
Q: Are you surprised that Houston has taken a 2-0 lead over the Mavericks?
TP†: I thought Houston would win one game, but two was a surprise. I thought Dallas would bounce back after the loss in Game 1 and take the second. Houston showed a lot of heart. They are very much the in-form team at the moment.
Q: Have the other series so far gone as you would have predicted?
TP: Other than the Houston series yes.
Q†: Will you be concentrating on anything specific in the coming days†?
TP: We donít have any secret formula. We just have to match their intensity level.
Q†: How did the crowd react?
TP: Well the fans werenít happy! They want us to go all the way and bring home the title. We lost the first game and they were quite critical, but it means a lot to them; we are the only sport in town. We canít really let it affect us.
Q†: One of the positives to come out of the game was the performance from Nazr Mohammed. Do you think he will have a key role in the series?
TP: Yes, he will play a key role even when Rasho comes back. He will play lost of minutes. He has long arms and plays with a lot of intensity.
Q†: Who are your favorites for the MVP title†?
TP†: Shaquille OíNeal and Steve Nash.
Q: Are you not concerned at the Spurs road record, given that you have now lost home court advantage?
TP: We have lost quite a few games on the road without Tim. Our road record is not as good as in recent years. But Iím not overly concerned. We have a lot of experienced players and we are more than capable of winning games on the road.
Q: Charles Barkley was very critical of you on TNT after the game. Did you hear about that?
TP: I heard what he said. A lot of people at the Spurs arenít at all happy with what he said because itís really a lot of nonsense. He criticized how I arrived at the game. But I donít pay attention to all that. The people that know me know that I am focused on the Playoffs and that I have been waiting for this for a long time.
Q: Denver likes to run. Will the Spurs continue to try and get them out of their rhythm?
TP†: Itís a large part of our strategy. We have to stop them scoring on the break. They scored a lot of points in transition in the regular season against us; the majority of Denverís scoring comes through their transition game. But we must also control the rebounding. They hurt us a lot with the rebounding. We gave them too many second chances.
Q†: Do you think the disastrous final quarter had something to do with you being scared to win†?
TP†: No not really, some games it goes in, sometimes not. When I began missing the tear drops and Tim started missing lay-ups I knew that it wasnít going to be our night. Denver played too well and we paid for it.
Q†: What was the message from the coaching staff following the game†?
TP†: He was disappointed with our intensity level. He is looking for us to improve in this domain for Game 2.