Suns guard Mario Elie, one of our NBA.commentators for NBA Playoffs 2001, answered questions from fans at practice following the Suns' 116-90 Game 2 loss to the Kings. The series is tied 1-1 in the Western Conference first round.
Hey Mario! My question is do you think Jason Kidd could keep up his offense-minded ways, and if he does will the team be better for it? Thanks Mario and keep up the good play!
Of course. When you don't have Penny Hardaway, Jason's got to pick up some of the slack. What I bring to the team at this stage of my career is really not that much scoring. You know, I can knock down a couple shots, but I can't score like I used to. But I think Jason in his prime can get a lot of shots, can break people down. He's a 6-5 strong guard. He worked on his medium-range game. He's starting to use the picks more, shooting behind the picks. If it's a shorter guard on him, Jason posts up. Jason's shooting a lot more threes, which is good. So that's three different ways he can score, and of course, on the break. If Jason gets the ball, he's going to make something happen, go to the basket or draw the foul. Jasonâ€™s a very clever point guard who can find a hundred ways to score.
How does the complexion of the series change now that it is going back to Phoenix?
It doesn't change at all. We just have to come out and play. It's a big game. I think it's the biggest game of the series. It is very pivotal. We are going to see who wants it more. I think it's going to be a very emotional, physical game. I feel whoever wins that game will win the series.
As a Spurs fan, I was glad to see you come to San Antonio. I feel your emotion and intensity was a big reason the Spurs won it all in '99. How has your personality affected the Suns this year?
I don't know. I just know at this time of the year, I'm a wild man. I'm so excited. We get into tussles out there, especially when things aren't going your way. The first game was good. We won. The second game it was tough watching them celebrate. Hopefully all of us will take that into consideration and come out and play mad. It's only the second game of the series and they are jumping around like they won the NCAA (Tournament) or something. Which they should, they kicked are butts. They were having fun out there. That's how they play. That's how they get pumped up and motivated. We need to take a page out from their book when things are going real good, let's enjoy it and celebrate also. It will be an emotional game.
What do you think of Jason Williams' game? What can the Suns do to shut him down?
He feeds off the crowd, but also when he gets going early. I think that's when Jason Williams gets into the game. He hit a couple of wild threes and made a couple of great drives (in Game 2) and he got himself involved early. It's going to be our job to slow them down, especially if Jason is shooting his shot. We have to do a better job of just trying to slow him down on the break because when he comes down and breaks our defense down, he can either drive or kick out to (Chris) Webber or (Peja) Stojakovic. So we'll try to slow him down and try to corral him.
Hi Mario! I was wondering what you thought was the biggest difference between Games 1 and 2?
Execution and will. They just wanted it more than we did. It showed in the rebounding. They outrebounded us. They beat us to loose balls. They were playing with a sense of urgency. So I think both teams Sunday will play with a sense of urgency. I think that's the biggest game of the series.
This isn't meant as a criticism, but it seemed like the Kings played a lot more physical than the Suns in Game 2. What do you think?
You have to be physical. You have to make your presence felt. I feel in the middle, we haven't. We need for guys to (bang them around) sometimes. Not to hurt the guy, but just let them know. We are not known as a physical team, but in the playoffs, you see all the games, there's a scuffle going in every other game. That's what you need sometimes to maybe jump start your team. They came and took it to us in Game 2 and we need to respond in Game 3. Just play hard. Don't give them anything easy. (Chris Webber) whips the ball around Jake (Tsakalidis') body and embarrasses him. If that's me, I go foul him on that.