Quotes: Spurs @ Thunder: 5/31/12


Gregg Popovich

Tony Parker

Stephen Jackson

Tim Duncan

Scott Brooks

Kevin Durant

Russell Westbrook

James Harden

Thabo Sefolosha

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Gregg Popovich

Q.         Did you have a target in mind for a score that you wanted to see to put Tim and Tony back in in the second half?
COACH POPOVICH:  Well, we talked about it quite a bit as far as what the score and time would have to be to pull the plug or try to go for it and that kind of thing.  So we talked about that.
There is not an exact.  You don't say this is the number, this is the time.  It's kind of a fluid thing as you're moving along and see what you think of the group.

            Q.  Turnovers were a big deal, 21 on your part.  Was that sloppiness on your part?  Did they do something different defensively to force those in Game 1 and Game 2?
COACH POPOVICH:  They played really well.  They played like it was a closeout game, both offensively and defensively.  They were very active, physical, they moved the ball well on offense, and they did all those things better than we did.  They beat us good.

            Q.  I'll ask you about Thabo Sefolosha?
COACH POPOVICH:  I forgot about the turnovers.  That doesn't help.  That sort of characterized the beginning of the game and gave them a really good head start in that sense as far as the way they were playing.  I think we recovered pretty poorly from that.  I'm sorry, go ahead.

            Q.  Coach, there will probably be some talk that Thabo Sefolosha doing well against Parker might become a factor in the series.  I just wondered if you would make any changes or if it's just let's go play Game 4?
COACH POPOVICH:  I don't know what kind of change as far as Sefolosha's concerned.  I don't know.  I can ask Scotty not to play him.  I don't know how I can change what Sefolosha's going to do.  He did a good job.  Tony did a good job.
But it's not about Tony, it's about our team.  We played much more poorly tonight than we have, and I thought they played fantastic basketball in every way.

            Q.  They executed better, but it seemed like they bowed up, played tougher tonight.  Did you sense that from them too?
COACH POPOVICH:  Sure, I think they played smarter than we did, and I think they played harder than we did.


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Tony Parker

Q.         What did they do differently against you defensively?  You had the big game?
TONY PARKER:  They played with a lot of energy.  They played harder than us tonight and deserved the win.  They just played better.  We have to play a lot better if we want to win here.

            Q.  Pops said they played harder and smarter than you guys tonight.  Can you explain why?
TONY PARKER:  I don't know.  We'll try to watch film and try to see what we can do better.  But they definitely played with a lot more energy, a lot more passion than us tonight.

            Q.  You got the sense in Game 2 that they were going to maybe try to turn this into more of a physical series the way they played in the second half?
TONY PARKER:  It's been physical the whole series.  All three games have been very physical.  They played us physical tonight as the first two games.

            Q.  I was wondering if you could talk a little about Sefolosha guarding you and maybe the difficulties that that presented compared to some of the other guys that have checked you in this series?
TONY PARKER:  They did that in the past.  OKC put Thabo on me last year or two years ago.  Nothing different for me.  I just have to choose my spots and keep being aggressive.

            Q.  Were you guys surprised at his offensive output?  He's a defensive guy, but he goes for 19?
TONY PARKER:  That is the strategy.  You have to stop when you want to slow down Durant and Westbrook.  We give him a lot of wide open shots, and he made his shots tonight.  He shot the ball well.

            Q.  It seemed that their big guys when they switched out on you Perkins and Ibaka, they took it as a challenge to slow you up?
TONY PARKER:  Actually, they didn't do it that much on me.  It was more on Manu.  They switched pick-and-rolls on Manu.  Manu will figure it out.  He'll be more aggressive next game.  Against me they didn't do that that much.  It was still like trapping me and trying to make the pass tougher.


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Stephen Jackson

On tonight’s game:
“[The Thunder} did a lot of things tonight. We can say Sefolosha did this or that; he made shots that’s one thing, but they flat out beat us. They came out with more energy. They played better defense and knocked down shots. They just gave us an old fashion butt whipping.”

On the 20-game winning streak being snapped:
“We’re human. We had a good run, it’s just one loss. We have just got to get ready to play the next game.”


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Tim Duncan

On the Thunder:
“They were excellent. They were great. They started out strong. I thought we kind of weathered that storm early on but they kept it on. They moved the ball well; defensively they were really solid, they used their length and it really affected what we were doing. We expected that kind of response from them in the third game and we didn’t respond really well to that. A lot of the guys didn’t play well. I didn’t play well. We put it behind us and look forward to the next game. We’ll try to watch some film tomorrow, reset, come back and have a better game four.”

On if the Spurs need to improve strategy or energy:
“A little bit of both. A little better focus, a little better attack. I think they really attacked us and got us on our heels. I don’t know if that’s X and O’s or energy or whatever, that’s just them playing better than we did.”

On his motivation is for Game 4:
“We’re in the Western Conference Finals, we don’t really need motivation. We are here and we are trying to get to four games. We hoped to win every game in a row in the playoffs but we didn’t, so here we go. Game 4 - we’re going to be ready and we’re going to bring it.”


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Scott Brooks

I thought we played great defense from the start.  Everybody was engaged.  Everybody was in the stands and our hands were active.  We contested shots.  We rebounded the basketball.
Defensively that was as well as you can play against the best team in basketball.  Everybody did it throughout every possession.

            Q.  Had you done much on Tony before, and how do you think that impacted the game tonight?
COACH BROOKS:  Well, Thabo, as we all know Thabo's one of the best defenders in the game.  We've had him on point guards before, not a lot, but I thought he did a great job of really staying active, pursuing, and our bigs did a good job tonight.  They were into the pick-and-rolls.
It wasn't anything that Russell did the last two games.  I thought our bigs did a good job of getting up on the screens and not allowing his angles to delay him to the basket.
I thought Thabo did a good job; but I thought the biggest adjustment, we played better.  We played better basketball.  That was the game plan going in is to play much better basketball.

            Q.  Coach, all your guys' effort tonight, particularly closeouts and second and third efforts, how big was that in just the overall defensive scheme?
COACH BROOKS:  Well, you're not going to beat this team by playing one-effort basketball.  You're going to have to have two, three, four and even five.  They make you do that because they pass the ball so well, and spread the floor so well.  They have an amazing big, they have some amazing players.
If you're going to play one possession, two possessions with energy, you've got to have multiple efforts, and I thought we did that tonight throughout the game.

            Q.  How much did your bigs. In particular Kendrick and Serge, take it upon themselves as a personal deal when they switched on Tony Parker to not get beat.  They seemed to bear down defensively tonight for you?
COACH BROOKS:  Guys played well.  Our bigs did a good job, Serge, Perk, Nick was in there. They did a good job.  But the way we defend, all five guys have to be participating, and we had that tonight.
We had it on just about every possession.  I can't think of a possession going back.  Just tomorrow over film, I'll be shocked if there are possessions we didn't play hard.  We played a good basketball game.  We played with a lost force, good energy, we played defensive minded basketball.  That's who we are, and that's how we win.

            Q.  A friend showed me a note or a tweet where someone said I don't know whether to give Oklahoma City credit, that they played that well, or it's just bad basketball from the Spurs.  How do you respond to that?
COACH BROOKS:  The thing that I talked to our guys, it's always about us against them.  It's not Tony, Russell matchup, Kevin, Ginobili, it's not about that.  It's about the Spurs versus the Thunder.  We did that tonight.  They played better than us the first two games.  We played better than them.  That's all that was.  If they played a bad game, I think we did our part of helping them play a bad game.
But they did their part of helping us play bad games.  The last two games they outplayed us we outplayed them tonight.

Q.  What role does emotion play with your team?
            COACH BROOKS:  As everybody knows, we have one of the best basketball arenas in the league.  Our fans come out, and we know that.  Every night we know that they're going to give everything they have, and they know, vice versa, our players are going to give everything they have.  We're a prideful team.  It's no fun being down 0-2.  It's no fun.
            But we weren't looking at the game thinking oh, my gosh, we have a chance to be down 0-3.  We were looking at the game that we have a chance to be 1-2 after this game.  I give our guys a lot of credit.  They believed in each other, and they always play hard for each other.  They are getting better.  We've seen it the last four years that we are improving because our guys do all the work, and they put time in.  They did a great job of playing the game the right way tonight.

            Q.  You said your guys played better basketball.  Did they play nastier basketball?  Was that borne out of your meeting yesterday?
COACH BROOKS:  Well, it's important to play tough basketball.  It's what we're about.  It's what we're built on toughness.  I give Thabo, Russell I mean, Russell had an amazing game.  Just look at his line, ten points, almost ten assists, rebounds, just running the floor, playing the game, defending his man.

Perk didn't play well last game.  The decision was not play him.  The guy has won so many games further.  I just needed him to play better.  He stepped up and played better tonight.  I'm proud of him and all of our guys.  That's what we do, and what we have to continue to do.  We've done nothing but won our home game, and we have a tough one Saturday night.  Thank you, everybody.


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Kevin Durant

On the game - We just played harder. We played harder. We had to protect home court. That's what we're supposed to do. We just want to come out and play as hard as we can. Leave everything on the floor. I think that's what we did. We played together on both ends.

On Sefolosha - He was phenomenal tonight. He was so active on the defensive end. He got a lot of deflections and got us some easy points in transition. They've been leaving him open on the three ball. He took ten of them tonight. We believe in him, he's confident shooting that jumpshot.

We need everybody to be aggressive, and Thabo stepped up tonight and kind of sparked us a little bit. So it was a great one.

On overcoming the Spurs mentally - We never thought these guys had an advantage over us even though we lost a few. It was just good that we took it to 2 1. We didn't want to go down 0 3. We wanted to protect our home court. We weren't worried about previous games between us. We were just worried about tonight.

We came out with the sense of urgency that we need to play with for the rest of the series. Coaches were great, everybody on the bench was great, and those guys on the floor we stuck together. It's all about fighting. We want to keep fighting and play hard.

On preparing for the game - We knew what we had to do. We knew that we're not going to lay down and roll over just because we're down 0 2. We're going to keep fighting. Coach just said we need to play harder, and that's what guys did tonight. I can't keep emphasizing enough that we just play harder on both ends of the floor.

We spaced the floor, made the right passes, helped each other out on the defensive end. We played with that effort, man. If you do that, you give yourselves a good chance to win.


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Russell Westbrook

On the game - It was a point of emphasis to start the game. I think everybody did a great job of making the extra pass. We moved the ball extremely well. Missed our makes. We kept making the right play, and that was the key for the night.

On defense - Very important. They're a great shooting team. You can't afford to leave them open and not contest. Everybody did a great job of scrambling. Whatever it took for us to get the steal, rebound and get out in transition.

On post defenders - They did a great job of being aggressive. They did a great job of running the floor with their bigs, getting back in transition and kind of loading up to the ball. They've been doing a great job all series, and they did an extremely good job tonight.

On forcing turnovers - said, we just played harder. That was a game where we used our hands, used our athleticism, got some loose 50 50 balls and did what we do, which is play Thunder basketball one game. Now we've got to get ready for Game 4.


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James Harden

On the game:
“Everybody was on the same page. We were active. Thabo (Sefolosha) did a great job on the ball with Tony Parker and using his length. Great defensive team effort tonight and we have to bring the same thing to Game 4.”

On the team’s confidence level:
“We had confidence going into the series. In the two games we lost I thought we played the Spurs well. Tonight, we just put everything together. In Game 4 we’ve got to play the same way. Come out with energy on defense and get out in transition and get some easy buckets.”


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Thabo Sefolosha

How were you able to be so effective tonight?
“I think it was just one of those games. We came to play, the whole team and it worked out for us. But my teammates did a great job finding me and I was reading them. I think I played pretty well defensively and that got me going offensively as well.”

What was the difference with defense and with you on Tony Parker?
“I think my length bothered him. Again I rely on my teammates a lot and they did a great job of helping me. We switched some of the pick and roll and I think that helped us.”

Did you ask to be on Parker or was that Scott Brook’s idea?
“That was Scott [Brooks]’s idea. But I think the whole time we were thinking about it and we made the adjustment tonight and it worked out good.”


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