WNBA Finals 2003 Postgame QuotesLos Angeles Sparks
Sunday, September 14, 2003
Michael Cooper |
Tamecka Dixon |
Lisa Leslie |
MICHAEL COOPER, Head Coach
Cooper: You know what, I am enjoying this so much, because the WNBA has definitely gone to another level. I thought, what a great game. What a great game. I'm so proud and happy to be part of it.
As everyone can see, women play basketball just at the highest priority and highest level that men do. They may not play above the rim, but this game is good below the rim.
Again, it seems like we are just giving games away when we come here. Another game I thought we had in hand, we should have and we let Holland-Corn get loose for three. That's the intestinal fortitude they have. They have been doing that all season long and again they have come through with another one. Heck of a basketball game, and again, I'm just so proud to be part of the WNBA and the growth that it's experiencing here. We've got another game and this is it, do-or-die and we have been 0-2 in this series, we thought this was over with, the last 50 seconds but it's not to be. We'll be back on, what is it, Tuesday? We'll be back on Tuesday and let the chips fall where they may, but the Sparks will be right there in contention.
Q: Can you describe the last play that you designed to try and win the game.
Cooper: Well, we got what we wanted: Got the ball to the best player in the league. The MVP, I think, and they were hanging on her, but you know what, the referee is going to make the players win the ballgame. I thought it was good. I'm not crying about that because if I cry about that, I'd be crying about the whole game. Again, it was -- we got a good look at the basket. Smooth did not have her hands on it like she would have liked to, and we just ran out of time.
Q: In the first half Lisa had more turnovers than points,3 to 1, why did she struggle in the first half?
Cooper: Their defense is geared to her. When you have to go against three or four defenders like Kareem used to do, it's difficult. I thought she did a good job of distributing the ball to other people. When we made that correction at halftime, you saw the type of game that we can play, pass the ball around and let players hit open shots.
Q: Do you have an explanation for the first-half play?
Cooper: No, I thought this Detroit team did exactly what they thought. I thought they were on our heels from the get-go and came out and took the pace right at us. Again, once they settled off their emotional high, and started playing, we got the team we were going to see and in the second half we were able to make some adjustments. We defended up a little better and we were able to force them into some well-contested shots that helped us at the other end.
Q: Is this the toughest team you've had to face?
Cooper: They are all tough. New York is physical. This is the best athletic team in the East. Swin Cash, Ford, Nolan, Riley may not be an athlete but she's a big body, what we are used to seeing and this is a good series. Very, very good series. I think it's a coach's series because both coaches have to make adjustments not only before the game but during the game.
Q: You talked about how proud you were to be part of this game today. What is it with the crowd and enthusiasm and the crowd running around?
Cooper: That's what I'm saying. For a minute I thought I had a flashback. I thought I was in Boston Garden in '85 playing. The crowd is really into it. It shows you that women's basketball is on another level now. It took a game like this, although each year the progression was great, the attendance is up, but for this game to be on ABC and people that don't normally watch basketball tuned in after watching a football game probably got hooked on the game. Hopefully those viewers will come back and be full-time viewer, whether you are Detroit Shock or Spark fan or Fever fan or whoever. The key is to get fans to come out and enjoy women's professional basketball.
Q: What adjustments are left to make?
Cooper: Real slight. I think for both teams now, I think we both know what our best shot looks like. They felt ours in L.A. and we got theirs here. I don't think this game is going to be played any differently now. I think it's a case now of which team wants it the most. You are going to have to scuffle for loose balls on the rebound, you have to box out for rebounds and go up when people are hanging on your arm to make shots and that's all it's going to come down to.
Q: You know Kedra from Sacramento, is that the kind of performance that she played on the second half that you've seen from her before?
Cooper: We've seen her quite a bit. That's why I was surprised we were let her get open for that 3. If she doesn't knock that shot down, it's a different story and we might be talking about winning our third title. But she did and now we have to wait one more time for an opportunity to do that. We knew she could do and that's one of the sad parts about losing this game.
I hope everybody here enjoyed this, because Tuesday, it's going to be the same thing. Thank you.
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Q: What has to happen in Game 3?
Dixon: We need to play a better first half and match their intensity. We were in the game, right where we wanted to be at the end and a couple of things didnít happen and we lost. I thought we played well in the second half.
Q: Did the Shock do anything that surprised you?
Dixon: Not really. I knew they were playing man because we killed their zone. They came out and did what we expected. We werenít aggressive in the first half and we dug ourselves a hole.
Q: Did their aggressiveness surprise you?
Dixon: They were pretty aggressive in the first half of Game 1. Their shots just werenít falling. We werenít aggressive in todayís first half and that was our downfall. If we match them in the first half, we played well enough in the second half to beat anybody.
Q: What did you think about the style of play?
Dixon: It was physical, especially down in the paint. A lot of things werenít being called. Both teams went at it. Hopefully, the same goes for Game 3 and they allow us to play.
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Q: What happened at the end?
Leslie: I donít really know. Itís all a blur. We lost. You guys can come back on Tuesday.
Q: How confident are you after taking their best shot?
Leslie: People always ask us about confidence, when weíre winning or losing. I donít really approach the game in that way. I just think we have to come out and put together two good halves and play better basketball. Itís obvious that we can beat this team. Itís also obvious that we can play good basketball in this building. We just have to put it together and not dig such a big hole.
Q: How were you able to turn it around personally after a tough first half?
Leslie: I just have to play through the tough times. They werenít calling anything. It was just a very physical game and they let it go that way. I just have to adjust to it. They werenít calling fouls either way, so you just have to get out there and fight.
Q: Did the team knocking down shots in the second half open things up for you?
Leslie: Thatís always going to be the case. If the other team is going to double-team, it helps if youíre hitting shots from the outside, which opens things up for me. We definitely werenít shooting the ball well in the first half, so there was no reason for them to leave me.
Q: How big of a letdown is it after making such a comeback?
Leslie: We canít really focus on that now. Weíve got another game to play.
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Q: What's your assessment of the final play? What happened in that series?
Milton: Well, it was a situation to where we tried to get an open shot. Swin Cash came flying out so I saw the perfect opportunities to put the ball on the floor, to get an even higher percentage shot. There was some contact there but was a no-call situation. The ball got loose. Lisa regained position and went up and, I don't know what happened at that point. I was looking to see if I could get in there to get rebounding position at some point.
But, the clock sounded and Sally Bell was saying, game over, we lost by one.
Q: Can you talk about how physical it was, bodies flying around, elbows being landed. What was it like being out there and was it your intent to make it more physical than Game 1?
Milton: Yes. Game 1 was very physical and this is something that we expected. We know that the way that the game went for them in Los Angeles, they were going to come back, even harder than before. And they did a great job. They played almost a perfect basketball game. Everything was going well for them. They were hitting big shots. They were all over the floor, and as for us, the flipside, the first half, I don't know who that team was. It wasn't the L.A. sparks of old. It was the L.A. sparks that is known for winning championships. But the second half we came off and made a concerted effort to be aggressive, and to pick up the intensity. Once we did that, we chipped away at their lead, and before you knew it, it was a tied game. Something that is very uncharacteristic of us, we left a three-point guru step out and hit a big bucket for them, and Kedra Holland-Corn, she has heart, she has big heart and she stepped up and hit a big shot for them.
But the game still wasn't over for us at that point. We still had opportunity to score but we just didn't capitalize on it.
Q: How easy or how difficult will it be to forget this to prepare for Tuesday?
Milton: This is something we won't forget. We might set it aside for the moment because the greater goal is to win this next game. We can't let any extra excess baggage carry over into the third game. We have to learn from this one, see where our mistakes were and they were pretty obvious because we didn't come to play in the first half. We really allowed them to stay pumped, with every open shot or every inside move that they got, a huge rebound, and it just really caused problems for us later on down the road. But this third game, we have to let this one go, learn from it, but come back more concentrated and more focused on playing 40 minutes, not even 35. 35 won't even win you a championship. You have to play 40 minutes.
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