The Day After
Notable quotes from Rockets players the day after clinching a playoff spot
HOUSTON - One day after clinching the club’s first playoff appearance since 2009, the Rockets took it easy Wednesday afternoon, opting for informal workouts rather than an organized practice in order to give everyone a bit of a breather before resuming their run at the Western Conference’s six-seed.
Seems like a smart plan. So good, in fact, that today we’re employing the spirit of that decision as well, supplying you with a very relaxed report on the notable quotes from some of the players who stopped by Toyota Center this afternoon.
(updating the status of his strained right calf)
“I’m feeling a little better. Hopefully a big day today of rehab. I think I’ve been trying so bad to get back and have my recovery quickly, I think I’ve overdone it a little bit because it’s so sore. But I had basically an off day yesterday, I’m going to a lot of rehab today and hopefully it reacts better than it has been doing.
“If I can play, I’m going to play. I’m so tired of not playing. I want to be out there more than anything. But at the same time I’ve got to be cautious and I’ve got to be smart about it because the bigger picture is obviously playoffs and me playing at 100 percent when they get here.”
(on what it felt like to clinch a playoff spot)
“It’s very exciting. It was such a relief last night just to know that we’re in and now we’re playing for higher and higher seeding. It’s exciting, just being (my) second year and being a big part of the team, it’s an amazing feeling.
“It’s promising just that these guys are all my age and that we’re building something here. We’re making noise right now, making the playoffs and now we have a chance to get up to the six-seed. It’s really encouraging for us in that we’re doing big things in such a limited time at such a young age.”
(on how sweet it was to clinch after experiencing the pain of missing the playoffs last year)
“I was thinking about last year pretty much all down the stretch. The six-game losing streak last year, I definitely didn’t want that to happen. We reminded the guys every game pretty much how that happened and how it was a huge meltdown. So it was such a relief just knowing that we’re in. Last year is over with and this is a whole new team this year and I really think we’re a much better team this year.”
(on his reaction the day after clinching a postseason bid)
“Just really excited. I’m happy for our team. We’ve been through a lot of change so just to be here, we’re really happy about that.
“We definitely didn’t think we’d be here coming into training camp, seventh seed with a chance of being sixth – in the Western Conference, too. I was hoping we’d be here, but if I were to be realistic, I’d think we’d be fighting for that eighth spot, not the sixth.”
(on the key to everything coming together so quickly for this club)
“I think the coaching staff really needs to get a lot more credit for what they do. A lot of people talk about the players because we’re the ones playing but our coaching staff is really talented. The way they coach us, just trusting us enough to give us that freedom, and to be able to coach us in what that freedom should look like, generally speaking – I think that’s pretty hard to do.
“(Kevin McHale) has done a great job. He’s gone through a lot of personal problems. I don’t know what it’s like to go through tragedy like that, I’m obviously not a parent myself, but what he’s done, just being energetic, great personality, players’ coach, we all really respect who he is and how he does what he does.”
(on the team’s chemistry)
“Our team is getting closer off the court and we have been the more time we spend with each other. We enjoy being around each other; it’s not like it’s forced or anything. That’s a good thing because when we get out on the court we want to play for each other and that’s a big part of chemistry.
“It translates a lot. If you’re playing with people you enjoy being around and people you want to go to battle with and battle for and sacrifice for, those teams always get further than the ones that don’t.”
(on his status while recovering from flu-like symptoms)
“I feel every day a little better. My energy level is getting better every day. Tomorrow I will try to practice with the team. I’ll do at least some of the workout.
“It was really bad for a couple days. I was taking some flu medicine and I wasn’t feeling really good or getting better at all. It was worse on the trip, too. Then when I got home, I started taking some antibiotics and started to wake up again.”
(on making the playoffs)
“It’s great. It’s like a mission accomplished right now. But it’s also motivation. We need to continue to grow and go forward. I think we have a chance to do something. Everybody is happy but I was talking to the guys in the locker room after the game: we need to continue to move and look at the big picture; don’t just be happy with this.”
(on what makes this particular team special)
“I think when you watch our team, our names, our careers individually, there’s nothing too special about it. But then when you figure out the puzzle and how to play together and how to support each other on the court and off the court, too, you create something. That’s what it’s all about. It’s a team sport and it’s a great job not only by the players but the coaching staff, too.”
(on making the playoffs)
“We were talking about it yesterday: to keep the pieces that we have on this team for the next couple years, we’re going to be really, really good. As everybody knows, this is a very young team and we broke a lot of records this year, our defense is getting better and for us the sky’s the limit.
“I think that’s a good mindset for us: to know that we’re here and to try to make a statement.”
(is there anybody’s shot you won’t try to block?)
“No. I will try to get anybody’s shot. I see the blocks every game. I get to the third quarter and I’m like, ‘(Shoot), I don’t have a block.’ I’m just trying to make plays on the ball.”