Quotes: Spurs @ Thunder: 6/2/12


Gregg Popovich

Manu Ginobili

Gary Neal

Stephen Jackson

DeJuan Blair

Scott Brooks

Kevin Durant

Russell Westbrook

James Harden

Serge Ibaka

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Gregg Popovich

Q. Can you just talk about what you saw from Kevin Durant those last six minutes you seemed to have him on the ropes and he seemed to take over the game?
COACH POPOVICH:  It didn't seem like that, that was a fact.  I was there.  I saw it.  He was great.  We tried to do a couple of different things, but his play was better than anything we did defensively, that's for sure.  He finished it off in fine fashion.

Q.  Coach, turnovers the major difference between tonight and Game 3.  Can you just talk a little bit about that?
COACH POPOVICH:  Well, we did a much better job.  We didn't have that problem that we had in Game 3.  But we've got to play 48.  We've only played three quarters in both these games here.  We haven't played the second quarter.  First, third and fourth quarter, we've competed and played.
But for whatever reason, the second quarters have been really bad for us, and we've had to recover from that both nights.

Q.  Can you talk about the importance of Game 5?  Manu was just in here talking about how often series turn on Game 5?
COACH POPOVICH:  Every game in the series is important.

Q.  You said the other day at practice that Serge Ibaka had a big impact defensively.  Can you talk about what affect he had on you guys tonight?
COACH POPOVICH:  Well, 11-for-11 is what I think it was.  That's a pretty big effect.  All the bigs really scored tonight.  Obviously, you put most of your attention on the big three there and try to do a great job on them first, just naturally.

But the bigs came through tonight and were outstanding.  I didn't look at the whole deal, but I think they were 22-for-25 or some crazy thing.  If you did a shooting drill with nobody guarding you, I don't think you could do that.

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Manu Ginobili

Q. Manu, can you talk about, you seemed to have the minimum time back in, and then Durant seemed to take over the game.  What did it look like trying to stop him those last five or six minutes from your vantage point?
MANU GINOBILI:  Well, when a player that talented gets hot, he's really hard to contain.  We tried different things, and they didn't work.  He scored a bunch on a short period of time when we tried to blitz or really help, he kicked it.  They made big shots.
So it was hard because we were on a run.  We were feeling good ourselves, and we just couldn't make a stop.  We made a great effort in the second half, but we just couldn't contain him down the stretch.

Q.  Considering how veteran you guys are, you've been through ups and downs in series before, but to go back home 2‑2 after the way you guys really took care of business in those first two, how difficult a challenge is it now?
MANU GINOBILI:  It's, of course, a great challenge.  We are playing against a really talented team.  We earned ourselves the possibility of having home court advantage, and hopefully we'll use it.  We played a bad Game 3.  Today was a little better.  But it's just part of the past.  Both teams took care of business at home.  Hopefully we keep that trend.
Game 5 is always huge in every series when teams are 2‑2, Game 5 most of the time is decisive, so it's going to be a very important one.

Q.  Turnovers were a major factor in the loss in Game 3.  Not so much tonight.  What was the biggest factor in your opinion for the loss tonight?
MANU GINOBILI:  I think we moved the ball better.  We were sharper, more in an attacking mode.  We were better just offensively.  So we were happy with that part.  We shot 50 percent, didn't turn the ball over.  We didn't get as many assists, but we scored.  Now it will be important to make some stops, too, because we shot 50, which should be enough for us; but they shot 56.  We are not a team that can afford to have that type of defensive performance.

Q.  Talk about your mindset at halftime.  I know you were down and disappointed.  But you were down with Durant only eight points, and the guys you thought wanted to take shots, Ibaka and Perkins were hitting those shots?
MANU GINOBILI:  Yeah, it's true.  Their bigs were making every shot, which we don't mind that much.  They make jumpers, of course, if they make dunks, that's a different deal.  We were dunked ten, I think.  I'm not sure, which is not great.  But we were okay.
We had a good start in the third.  Made a run at the end of the third and down four at the beginning of the fourth quarter is ideal for us on the road.  So we were in a good shape.  But you know what happened in the fourth.  We just couldn't make stops.
They scored 34 points, and the big ones, they all fell.  So hopefully they miss a couple more, and we force them to turn the ball over a little bit more.

Q.  You guys credited Serge Ibaka for his defensive effort in Game 3.  What effect did he have tonight on you guys?
MANU GINOBILI:  Well, yesterday he was impressive.  11-for-11 on Game 4 of the Conference Finals is not easy to do.  I understand if he runs the transition and dunks or on drop offs when we help.  That can happen.  But he made five to six jumpers, and that's something we were willing to give up.  But he was impressive today.  He made every shot.  He was very active as always on the defensive end.  So he had an unbelievable game.


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Gary Neal

On Kevin Durant’s effort in the fourth quarter?
“I mean he wasn’t second in MVP votes for nothing. I mean he is a great scorer, he is a great talent and tonight in the fourth quarter he was making shots and he was hot. You know that is going to happen in the fourth quarter and we have to figure out how to maintain our level of intensity for 48 minutes. When you get down in the hole and try so hard to get back, you know sometimes guys making shots can kind of take the energy out of you. We have to figure out a way to maintain our intensity for 48 minutes so that way we don’t have to get in the hole.”

On the Thunder’s role players?
“Serge Ibaka made shots. But it’s the NBA. It’s the Western Conference Finals and all those guys can play; you have to give them credit. They made shots and they won the game. Like I said earlier, we have to figure out a way to maintain intensity in 48 minutes. We just can’t continue to get in the hole.”


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Stephen Jackson

On Serge Ibaka:
“We did everything we could. Once a guy like that gets going it’s hard to stop him. I mean, you get out there and shoot eleven wide open shots, you’d probably hit them too. Most of the shots were wide open, so he’s supposed to hit those. I mean we were giving those to him. So we have to deal with that and everything else we have to get better on.”

On the Spurs effort in the second half:
“We shouldn’t get any credit for playing hard. It’s the Western Conference Finals, you’re supposed to play hard. I mean if you’re scared, go to church. Tomorrow is Sunday. It’s the Western Conference Finals and you have to be ready to play. Pop shouldn’t have to come in and scream at us and tell somebody to play hard. A lot of people would die to be in this position. Go out there and give it our all and whatever happens, happens.”


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DeJuan Blair

On Kevin Durant:
“He’s the scoring leader. He did a great job, but once we start playing better we’ll be ok.”

On Serge Ibaka and environment in Oklahoma City:
“He hit a couple jump shots and he’s athletic as ever. We have got to keep him off the boards. He got a couple dunks, too; he and Perk (Kendrick Perkins). I think it’s physicality. We have got to come in and be more physical. That’s why I came in, to try and spark it. I did a good job and we just came up short a little bit. But, that’s why it’s a series. We knew this team would be a tough battle coming in here, in this environment. It’s crazy out there. We just got to keep playing. It’s a series now…We just got to be ready for game 5 Monday.”


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Scott Brooks

COACH BROOKS:  I thought it was a great team effort.  I thought our bigs did a great job of obviously making baskets.  Serge 11-for-11, Perk 7-for 9.  Both had terrific nights offensively, but our guys were finding them.  That's what we've been talking about.  We had 27 assists.  That's outstanding offensive basketball.  And then Kevin took over at the end.  I don't know how many points he had straight.  It seems like 15‑16, but he had a remarkable fourth quarter.
I just like the fact that everybody chipped in.  Russell, I give Russell a lot of credit.  He in that fourth quarter became a pass defensive ‑‑ he became like the dirty garbage man player by hustling, scrambling.  He chased down a loose ball, and I thought his effort was tremendous.

Q.  You guys believed in each other all along.  But what are the emotional benefits of getting a game like that from Serge, Kendrick to a certain extent, one game after you got the same thing from Thabo?
COACH BROOKS:  Well, to be where we are, we have a pretty good basketball team.  We have a very good basketball team, a deep basketball team, and a team that believes in each other.  As you coach this group, guys step up, and guys step up at times throughout the year, and they stepped up tonight.  Thabo stepped up last game with his defense, with his offense.
Tonight, our bigs did a good job of defending and scoring.  Give our playmakers a lot of credit.  They were demanding a lot of attention.  Like Kevin, Russell and James will do, and they were finding open shots for Serge, and open and drop off passes for Perk.  That's what we've been doing.  I give those guys a lot of credit for executing it.

Q.  KD only took four shots in the first half.  Did you not think he was getting the looks he wanted, or do you feel like he was just deferring to his teammates they were making shots?
COACH BROOKS:  Yeah, one of the things about Kevin, I wasn't freezing him out, trust me.  I'd like him to shoot more than four times.  But with Kevin, it's not about shots.  It's about playing very consistent with some toughness and making plays for his team.  I think he had eight assists tonight. 
They're a great team.  They're a team that plays great defense.  They're not just going to continue to give him looks.  I give him credit.  He opened up the defense by making passes, and that's what our guys did tonight.  Our three play makers did a great job of finding our bigs for open shots.

Q.  Do you feel like your team was finishing out plays with box outs and rebounds tonight, particularly on the defensive end?
COACH BROOKS:  Yeah, we did a great job of defending.  They made some tough shots.  They're going to make some tough shots.  They made some threes.  Leonard is a terrific player.  Obviously they're very pleased on how he's progressed and improved every month.  He's really good.  He had another great game for them.  But they were making shots.  I thought we did a pretty good job defensively.  The field goal percentage is not where we'd like it.  But they were making some tough shots.

Q.  You talk about the bigs offense.  Serge has become more known for that, but Perk, definitely, that's not one of his strengths.  Can you talk about what he was doing, especially, and his production early, just the tone that that set?
COACH BROOKS:  With Perk, he provides so much toughness for our team.  We talk about it all the time.  He's a force on the defensive end.  He scores points with the screens, and he's done that.  He had an incredible series against the Lakers, and he's having a great series in this series with setting screens.
But he was rolling hard.  We were finding they were jumping out on Kevin, putting two guys on the ball, and Kevin was doing a great job of finding him.  Our bigs were looking for each other on big to big passes, but that's what good teams do.  27 assists, that's a terrific ball movement and believe in each other.
But we have a deep team.  Some nights different guys have to step up, and Serge and Perk had an offensive night that we were all very happy with.

Q.  San Antonio, obviously, you guys had a lopsided victory in Game 3.  What exactly did they do tonight to adjust and make the game tougher for you guys than it was in Game 3?
COACH BROOKS:  Well, I think they did a great job of getting into us, making us really work for all of our cuts, all of our passes.  They were denying.  But we knew going into this game, just like us, they have a lot of pride.  We knew that going into this game they were going to play aggressive.  They were going to attack the basket, and I thought they did that tonight.
But we both just hung in there and fought.  Then Kevin got hot at the end.  Kevin got hot.  He made shots.  Did a great job of setting up, catching at the nail, catching it where we wanted it.  Double teams are hard to get.  When he did get double teamed, he had a good pass.  James made a good three.  He stepped up and found the right play each time.

Q.  You've seen plenty of great scoring nights from Kevin.  What was different about tonight?
COACH BROOKS:  The eight assists.  He's really improved as the years have gone by of becoming a better play maker, and that's through the work that he puts in with our staff.  They do a great job, and he's a worker.  He comes into practice every day trying to figure out ways to improve his game. 
This year we challenged him to be a better play maker for his team, and he did that.  He's done that all year.  He's been, even early in the season, he's had some turnovers by doing that.  They weren't selfish turnovers.  They were turnovers trying to find his team, and everything clicked tonight.  He was finding himself at the end, but finding his teammates early in the game.

Q.  Taking a broader view, what do you think it means that he closed the game?  He closed what I imagine you might call the biggest game in franchise history in his career.
COACH BROOKS:  Going into this game we knew how important it was.  It's a lot easier going to San Antonio 2‑2 instead of being 1‑3.  But when we lost our first two games, our guys did not get down on themselves.  We knew they did a great job protecting their home court, and we have to do the same.  We have an incredible fan base here.  They love our guys, and our guys did a good job of performing and making them feel very proud of our players by just working hard and playing hard.
It was terrific that Kevin did a good job of closing out the game.  But Kevin's about winning.  He's not about scoring 16 points in a row.  If he would have had 15 assists or making the right plays, he's happy with that.  He's a team player, and he's only going to get better.


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Kevin Durant

Q. Kevin, this game started out being one of your favorite games.  Everybody else was scoring, and Serge couldn't miss.  Perk was scoring.  Seemed like a game you really enjoyed.  Then in the fourth quarter it turned where you were doing all the scoring and had to carry the team.  Is that sort of the way it felt to you?
KEVIN DURANT:  I wouldn't say I carried us.  We made a good effort to play together.  We had 27 assists.  That comes from moving the ball and making the right plays.  I think doing that in the first three quarters kind of opened it up for me in the fourth, and I was able to make some shots.
But Russell set great screens.  James made great passes.  I was just trying to do my job and finish it.

Q.  Kevin, nobody's won on the other team's home court, yet it feels like in the series the momentum has turned back in your favor.  How do you feel heading back to San Antonio?
KEVIN DURANT:  We know this is only one step closer.  As people said, we did what we were supposed to do by winning at home.  So we've just got to go down there with the mindset that we're going to play hard every possession, play together like we've been playing these last few games, and we'll see what happens.  We've just got to keep believing, man.  We'll be fine.

Q.  Kevin, do you think you're the closer in the game?  Is that a label that you strive for to attach to your name?
KEVIN DURANT:  Yeah, I would like that.  I just want to be calm and composed and poised in those situations and make the right basketball play.  There are times when I need to pass to my teammates and times when I need to score.  I just try to take it on, try not to be nervous.  Sometimes it's nerve‑racking playing those games like that.
But I just try to calm down and go with my instincts.  On the defensive end, I want to be clutch as well.  I'm learning every single day.  I'm not where I want to be, but I'm going to keep growing in those situations.  I think those tough times are going to help me get better.

Q.  Scott called timeout there after they pulled within four, and you came out and scored the next 16.  What was your mindset at that point?  Did you feel you had to assert yourself at that point?
KEVIN DURANT:  I didn't tell myself that I need to go score, because what we were doing was working.  We were passing the ball and guys were making shots.  They went on a little run there.  So I just wanted to stick with what we were doing.  It started to open up for me, and I saw some lane that's gave me some opportunities to make some shots.
Like I said earlier, Russ set great screens and James made great passes.  Serge spaced the floor.  Perk did a great job of setting screens as well, and I was able to make shots.
I've got to continue to keep working every single day.  So next time I'm in that situation, I take advantage of it.

Q.  You were having trouble earlier in the series in getting space and getting open.  What were you able to do tonight to get more space for yourself in getting the ball and getting your shot off?
KEVIN DURANT:  I just slowed down, let my teammates screen for me.  I think the first game I was going a little too fast.  I was watching film, and I was coming off the screen before the guy could set it.  That set my man up right.  My bigs and Russ and Fish, those guys have been setting great screens for me.  I've just got to slow down a little bit.  I'm going to continue to keep watching film and see where I can get better, and hopefully I'll have a good game next game.


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Russell Westbrook

Q.  Perkins and Ibaka combine for 41 points tonight.  Can you talk about how big a performance the bigs have?
RUSSELL WESTBROOK:  They were great, man.  They did a great job of defending their bigs.  Duncan and Diaw did a great job of running the floor.  Kevin, James and I created so much attention, those guys spaced out and finished plays.

Q.  From what you've seen out of these guys defensively and in four games now, when Serge is hitting that mid-range jumper like he is, how does that free up things?  What impact does that have for you offensively?
RUSSELL WESTBROOK:  It's a great impact.  Serge continuously knocked those shots down in the first three quarters.  Then when it was time for Kevin to iso and give us what he needs, he has a lot of space.  That just shows the commitment that we're making the right play, and it worked for us.

Q.  Coach talked about your defense and hustle out there in general.  Did you feel like everybody was scrambling and making the right defensive play too tonight?
RUSSELL WESTBROOK:  Definitely.  It's winning time.  Whatever you need to do to find a way to get a win, you have to do it.  My job is to defend and make sure we're running the right sets offensively.  That's what I try to come out and do.

Q.  When you came in with 7 minutes left in the fourth quarter, Durant got the next seven or eight shots in a row.  Was that coincidence?  Did Brooks tell you feed him?  Was that all you or what happened?
RUSSELL WESTBROOK:  He didn't tell me nothing.  When teams started making a run, we've got to go to our first option, and that's Kevin.  He's been doing a great job all season of closing games for us.  When things get tight, he always finds a way to help us throughout the game, and he did that tonight.


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James Harden

In your opinion, what was the difference to winning this game?
“Our defensive effort. We had very good spurts. We had to limit scoring and get tough shots. Obviously Kevin (Durant) and Serge (Ibaka), and everybody did a phenomenal job at their role and what they did. They went on a run, which we knew they were going to do, and we withstood that. It was a very big win for us.”

What does it mean now for it to be a three game series?:
 “It means everything…Everybody thought it (the series) was over because they hadn’t lost. We tied the series up. We both won on our home courts, so now we have to do a good job of locking-in beginning in Game 5, and try to win the game.”

On the ball movement tonight?:
“It was key. Russell obviously didn’t score the ball a lot, but, Serge, Nick, Perkins and everyone else did and got their defense moving a lot. That’s what it’s going to take against this team. You can’t be stagnant on offense because they do a good job of loading up. We have to have the ball movement and everybody scoring. Everybody did a great job tonight.”

How important was that early on when the three of you were struggling and everyone else was hitting just about every shot they took?:
“It was key. We trust our guys to make shots…you know Serge with a 15 footer, Perkins finishing on the rim, Thabo shooting and Nick.  Down the line, we trust each and every guy, and that’s what going to get us past this team. You have to trust and make the right plays every single time no matter what. No matter if they’re missing shots or not.”


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Serge Ibaka

Talk about your performance tonight:
“Maybe a surprise for you, but not a surprise for my teammates or myself. I work had every day, so for you I understand it is a surprise.” 

Were you surprised you were open on so many occasions?
“I was just surprised because if you saw the first game in San Antonio they always left me open every time. Because they know we have some good players like Kevin or Russell and James who have very good opportunities to make plays.  First game I didn’t have a great opportunity to make my shot but I just wanted to believe in me and my teammates and I want to just keep working hard.”

How good was the ball movement tonight?
“The last two games we did a really great job like a team moving the ball…We can make some extra passes. The last two games we did a great job.” 


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