HEAD COACH DWANE CASEY
On the last four minutes of play:
“Well, we got tentative and one thing their defense picked up, and we weren’t as aggressive as we needed to be, either. In those situations, you got to be aggressive, decisive…I don’t think it was the fact that we didn’t know what we were doing…but when they try to take you out of those, you got to be aggressive, you got to make sure you attack their feet and then make a play, and we didn’t do that. But again, credit them, their defense picked up and ours didn’t. They shot 54%, and we gave them 14 offensive rebounds; that, to me, was the key to the game for them.”
On the rotation that the Pistons finished with:
“I thought we needed it against them because of their pressure, I thought we needed another ball handler, and Luke was giving us that. Defensively, that first stretch I felt like Wayne was a better defender, and then we went back to Luke when we needed a ball-handler just because of that pressure; they picked it up, they were switching a lot, that got us a little more tentative. In those situations, you still have to attack their feet and make sure you make them make a decision at the rim, as they were doing to us—Lillard was attacking our feet from out on the perimeter, and now we get in our rotations, and he was dumping it off and making plays at the rim…against pressure, you have to do that. They did a good job of taking away Ellington off the three-point line.”
On Aminu’s performance tonight:
“His offensive rebounding…getting in the paint, driving…we were off helping or blitzing, and he did a good job of, on the weak side, cutting and getting to the rim. And again, we were trying to do something to disrupt Lillard in those situations, but we have to do a better job, not only on him, but again the offensive rebounding is something that we can do a better job of. Fourteen points are way too many offensive boards.”
On how focusing defensive attention on Lillard opens up opportunities for others:
“You’re not going to stop everything…they’re one of the top offensive teams in our league, and we made a decision that we were going to try to keep the ball as much as possible out of Lillard’s hands, and again, you take away one thing, you’re going to open up something else.”
On losing the lead in the fourth quarter
“It was a tough one. The [Blazers] came and took it. We played a great team. They found a way to come out with the victory. It was a tough one to lose tonight… They did a great job playing defense and taking away what we wanted to do. [In that last stretch], we played a lot of iso [isolation] ball and it was tough. We’ve got to find a way to spring each other loose.”
On the opportunities created by Damian Lillard
“He’s been doing a great job of [creating opportunities] all year. He’s been getting blitzed [defensively] and finding his team to take good shots as well as getting off the ball. The Blazers have done a great job against that.”
On the last stretch of the game
“I thought we got stagnant. We didn’t go back to our sets that were working for us earlier. We just kind of passed the ball around and looked at each other, myself included. Obviously, we can’t play like that down the stretch against a team like [the Blazers].”
On Damian Lillard
“Guys like that, you’ve just got to play hard on them. He’s a professional scorer, that’s what he does. I thought we did a decent job on him at times.”
On heading into playoffs
“Our biggest concern is us and how we’re playing. Obviously it’s hard not to look at the standings and things like that, but more importantly it’s about us and how we’re handling different things and making sure we play the right way.”
HEAD COACH TERRY STOTTS
“A gutty, gritty win – basically, we held them scoreless the last four and a half minutes. We made a lot of good defensive plays, big shots. I thought Chief, at both ends, whether it was a rebound or a very heads-up play making the last shot, a nice drive earlier. I think overall, they shot the three really well for most of the night, they missed them toward the end other than Galloway’s. It was just about finding a way – Dame’s four-point play obviously was a big momentum play.”
What did you think of the contributions of the second unit?
“Really good. Seth was good all night. Seth, offensively, I think he’s been more aggressive with CJ out. He had a good rhythm to the game, playing off the dribble, jumpshots. Same thing in the second half, probably not as much but with CJ out, having a guy like Seth who can do what he does is something we need.”
Lillard was finding guys late – do you find you’re doing things in a different way with him finding guys?
“To be honest, and we’ve had this talk, I think he’s always been finding guys. It’s what the guys do afterwards. There is trust involved, but when he gets doubled, when he’s getting trapped, I think in the past the multiple passes by multiple players made a difference throughout the game. There were many of those plays, not just a singular play, but I think we’re getting better in recognizing those situations.”
On getting contributions from different guys each night:
“It’s kind of the way the game goes a lot of the time. Since the All Star break, I was asked pregame about different guys, and it has been different guys on different nights, whether it’s Rodney having a game in Charlotte or Seth filling in now, Moe’s really played exceptionally well after the All Star break, Damian has been solid but since CJ has been out, he’s really controlled the game particularly at the offensive end and made it easier for everybody else. Nurk has been very consistent since the All Star break. So I think you can go up and down the line – adding Enes to the roster. I thought Enes in the second half really provided – I was kind of matching Nurk’s minutes with Drummond but they left Drummond in, I thought Enes did a really nice job in his stretch and he played a little bit longer in the second half than he did in the first.”
“Zach is all about energy. When he makes his energy plays, his effort plays, it’s not whether he makes a three or misses a three, it’s about all the other things, and when he does that, he’s a big bonus for us.”
What changed defensively from the third to the fourth?
“I thought in the third, we didn’t do as good a job on the ball as we need to. I thought the penetration – they got into the paint, they got to the rim. I think at one point they were five for five at the rim. It put Nurk especially in a tough position because he’s got Drummond, he’s worried about Drummond getting tip dunks and lobs and stuff like that. I thought we did a better job on the ball in just not letting them get to the rim as easily.”
“We made the plays we needed to make. I think defensively, we got behind each other a little more, we helped each other a little bit. We were more physical, I just thought our presence defensively down the stretch in the biggest moments of the game was when it was best. On the offensive end, we just had the ball moving. We were finding the right guys, having quality possessions on that end. Just that balance of doing it on both ends down the stretch when it mattered most, I think that was good – the best part about it.”
What can you say about what Aminu did?
“I mean he was cutting, he was screening, he was ready to shoot the ball when he was open, he was scrambling defensively. I just think when your mind is in the right place and you’re doing all these things, just doing whatever you can for the team, good things happen. He was on the good side of things, just because he was in it, he was in it mentally and it worked out. He was huge for us. He pretty much made all the big plays for us.”
How about getting contributions from different guys every night?
“Guys have stepped up. When CJ went down, we already knew it would be best for our team if we just had guys just step it up and guys come in prepared to give a little bit more and everybody’s done that. I think if you look on the stat sheet, you’ll see what Chief did tonight, what Seth did, but Zach has come in ready. I think what Moe has been doing on the defensive end and creating second and third opportunities on the offensive end, random screens, drawing double teams in the post. You’ve got so many guys coming in and impacting the game to the point where it’s really a group effort and the game is easier for me that way, the game flows better that way so it feels good. It looked good too.”
Do you allow yourself a look at the standings and an opportunity to maybe move up with teams ahead losing?
“We know it’s possible but we’ve just got to worry about ourselves. It’s such a tight race that one or two losses here or there, you could drop a few spots, but the position we’re in now is a good spot. I think it’s just best for us to just focus on ourselves, obviously we’ll keep up with who won and who lost and all that stuff, but as far as us going on the court and what we do and our preparation and our locker room, we need to just worry about ourselves.”