WNBA Playoffs 2003
Round 1, Game 1
Lynx 74, Sparks 72
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Minnesota: McConnell Serio
Los Angeles: Cooper
Lynx Coach Suzie McConnell Serio
"I'm exhausted. It was just an exciting game. They never quit the entire 20 minutes in the second half, and they continued to believe in each other. They never gave up, and I couldn't be more proud of that. At halftime, I just challenged their pride. At one point we were down 21 points, and we worked too hard to earn this spot in the playoffs to just let it slip away. We're not happy just being here. We want to win this first round. We're an underdog, so everyone looks past us, but we came to play. The only thing that matters to us in our locker room is that we believe we can win. We use that as motivation."
"I think L.A. shot the ball really well, and we weren't challenging them. We just talked about defensively making it happen in the second half. We had to pick up full court we had to try to change the tempo of the game because L.A. is so effective in the halfcourt. We had to just try to disrupt their tempo, and for the most part we were successful in the second half."
"They went to a zone down the stretch, and I thought we capitalized against their zone being able to go inside because Lisa was in foul trouble and didn't want to pick up her sixth foul. Execution against the zone was key for us when they went to that."
"This crowd kept this team alive. I know the stat sheet says there were only 3600 people here, but the fans were tremendous. If we end up playing in Target Center again in the next round, they need to come back because they were unbelievable."
"Katie has been an MVP for us. She's just hit clutch shots. She has defended at every position for us. She has also played at a forward position when we went to four guards. She does so much for us and gives us flexibility and versatility. She's definitely an MVP in my eyes."
"They (Sparks) are going to come out focused. They're not happy right now. I think they feel we stole this game from them, or they gave it away however you choose to put it. But I think this team fought back and earned it. We need to bring that determination that we had in the second half with us to L.A. We just need to be ready for a battle when we come out in L.A. If we can steal the first game (in L.A.), we'll take it. If not, we'll go to Game 3 and try to steal that one. But we just prepare for the next game as I heard Katie say it as if it's our last."
"I thought this was a great game. It was a team that had to play a little desperately, with a sense of urgency, being down 21 points. I think it would've been disappointing for the fans to watch if they were to watch the Lynx lay down and die, and allow L.A. to do whatever they wanted. When you have players giving it everything they've got and playing that hard, it's a great game."
Lynx Guard Katie Smith
"They shot the ball extremely well in the first half basically taking whatever shots they wanted and we weren't really changing their looks or disrupting them... You're down 21. If you just come back in a halfcourt defense, 20 minutes is probably enough time to make it work for them. So we picked up full court. Obviously that was it, because we did have to pick up the pace of the game. That made it more chaotic, because we had to scramble more to take them out of their comfort zone."
"I think we took advantage of matchups. We are able to put the ball on the floor as well as anybody. You have to make them play defense. You can't sit back and get scared that Lisa is going to block your shot. You go right at her."
"We've played L.A. to the wire I don't know how many times over my five years. They've been battles and fun games. We're just two good teams. We just want to go out and play hard, play well and have fun. Tonight was a lot of fun, obviously, because it was at home."
"She (Serio) wasn't ranting or raving or anything. She just basically said it's about pride. We're all players who've been through everything. We knew that we weren't doing our jobs. We weren't happy with the way we were playing. So it was just a matter of, 'Hey, let's go out and play the way we are capable of playing.' What did we have to lose?"
"In L.A. (last week) nothing went wrong for them. We didn't really fight back. Give them credit. But today we just took it play by play, and we had the opportunity to hit big shots. Say I don't hit that 'three' totally different ballgame."
"I don't know about you guys, but I thought that was a fun game to watch. Maybe I'm biased. I'll ask everybody at home. But I thought that was an exceptional game to have on TV for women's basketball fans... We're going to go out to L.A. on Saturday like this is the last game of the season, the last game of the playoffs. Because if we lose that one it gives them a sense of momentum, and we don't want that."
Lynx Forward Tamika Williams
"I didn't see the steal coming, but I knew that if it came in to anybody, it would be Lisa. I was going to try and pressure her. That was the only thing we had. I knew Svetlana was going to be jumping and Teresa was going to 'D' her (Dixon) up as she did."
"I did anticipate it. I thought the play before that, when Teresa kicked it out of bounds, gave us another opportunity to deny the ball. I saw at the last second who she (Mabika) was trying to go for. Lisa just kind of stepped out, and when she stepped out she didn't hold me off or anything. I just went for it and ran for the hills... There was nothing big. It was not like I was in another world or anything. I just played the game."
"When you play L.A. who is experienced, who has players that are All-Stars, who has been there, done that you can never relax. Tonight it took everything. It takes everything to beat a team of this caliber, whether Nikki Teasley plays or not. We have to come out and play aggressive, and leave everything on the court."
"In the first half, they made almost every shot. Nobody missed. I think in the second half, we just picked up the pressure full court. We kind of had them on their heels, and like their coach said, they played not to lose."
Lynx Guard Teresa Edwards
"I would never think that this (21-point comeback) would happen professionally, but we had a challenge from the coaching staff to give it all we have. We knew we were going to have to play fullcourt defense the entire second half. You just hope that things fall into place, and they did for us. It did create a problem for them, and of course they didn't have Nikki in the game, who is their best point game and best at ballhandling. So that helped us. I think that gave us confidence to take chances in pressing the ball. I know I felt better pressuring the ball because I knew she was their best ballhandler."
"I think it's best when you play with your instincts. I didn't think about it. I just knew that I was open and I was going to put it up. I was begging JB for the ball at that moment. I didn't even hesitate. I just prayed to God it goes in. I hadn't hit one all night."
"She (Dixon) is a really good one-on-one player, so I was actually afraid to give her a chance to take me one-on-one. So I knew in my heart that I was going to take a stab at it by kicking it. I couldn't reach. To reach would have caused a foul, so I didn't. She was too smart to let me reach, but I put it in my head to kick it so they would start it over again. I knew the clock was less than 30 and knew it was going to be their ball again, but it was worth a try. I used to kick it all the time in passing lanes, but I've never kicked it around a person like that before."
"I think it's important that we make them play both ends of the court hard and then whatever happens, happens."
Lynx Forward Svetlana Abrosimova
"It was amazing. I don't think a lot of people believe in us. That's why it gave us a lot of determination just to prove to everyone that they're wrong. Coach told us that we should press from the beginning of the second half, and I think that got us going in the flow and it got us a lot more energy. A lot of people stepped up. We played great defense, pushed them around, and we stole a lot of balls. Katie made great shots, and Tamika's steal decided the game. It wouldn't have happened if the entire team didn't work really hard together just to get to that point."
"They shot the ball extremely well in the first half. They are a great team. They came prepared and were a lot more aggressive inside. We just couldn't find the answer for them at that time."
"In the first half, we tried to slow her (Leslie) down. But she played extremely well. So in the second half we knew she was in foul trouble. For us, we had to get the ball to Tamika, because Lisa was playing defense against her. We knew that Lisa couldn't guard Tamika really well, because she would be so afraid to get a foul. That's what we did, and Tamika did a great job."
Sparks Coach Michael Cooper
"I knew this was going to be a tough game. We did a really good job in the first half by limiting their three-pointers. We talked about, coming into this game, if we can limit their looks at open 'threes', we would have a really good chance. For whatever reason, they got a little bit more open in the second half. They did what they had to do. Give the Lynx a lot of credit."
"We knew they were going to make a run. This is a hard-nosed team, with a good mix of veterans, that wasn't going to go away. We had a total collapse in the second half. Five Lynx players it didn't matter who they were were playing better and harder than us in the second half."
"They held their home court. I'm a firm believer that the playoffs don't start until a team wins on the opponent's home court. We know what we have to do. We've got to go back and win two."
"In the second half, you really have to give credit to the Lynx defense. Sure, we can cry and scream all we want about the officiating. But the bottom line is, it was the same as it was in the last seven years. Our reserves needed to step up with our foul trouble and injuries. They did not. I don't blame injuries and foul trouble for our loss."
"The biggest difference in the second half is that we didn't play to win. We played not to lose. You saw our experience and playoff-tested veteran play in the first half. The second half was a completely different story. We didn't come to compete, and we weren't intense enough. At this stage and in the playoffs, if you can't do that, you're not going to get very far."
Sparks Center Lisa Leslie
"This was a very good game. I just think it's sad for the game of women's basketball the way the second half went. I felt the game was played very unfairly. I know it's on the road and you're not always going to get the calls, but that's all I can really say about this situation. You can interpret it however you want, but it's hard to get in a flow of a game like this one... I think every minute, either team was shooting free throws. That was just sad for the game of women's basketball."
"There were spurts in the second half where we didn't keep our composure. It really hurt us not playing with our top two point guards. Nicky McCrimmon did the best that she could, but we didn't execute against their press. Overall, the Lynx just executed a lot better than us."
Sparks Guard Nikki Teasley
"I don't really remember the play. I know my leg got caught underneath and kind of hyperextended. I didn't hear a pop or anything. It's just real sore right now... This is the playoffs, and now we're down one. Nothing is going to keep me from playing and helping the team win."
"I will get lots of therapy. I will do whatever it takes. I'm sure we'll take some x-rays and find out what's going on down there, and take it from there. I'll be ready to play. I'm incredibly anxious right now. I wish I could turn back the hands of time."
Sparks Guard Tamecka Dixon
"It's all right. We'll just approach the next game like it's just another game. We'll be fine. We will win. Put that in the paper: we will win... Let's see them try and press us on Saturday like that. It will be a whole different story. They will get blown out. Put that in the paper."
"Lots of stuff was going bad. They didn't do anything to make this happen. The officials wait, I don't want to get fined... It was all on us."
"We were still playing after the (Teasley) injury. It's not like we gave up. It's a tough thing, though. Let's just hope and pray that this won't take her out of the playoffs."
Sparks Guard Mwadi Mabika
"I was trying to pass the ball to Tamecka. She wasn't open, so I went to Lisa. She (Williams) came out of nowhere."
"(On the last possession) I was really just trying to get a shot off anything that I could get. I thought that I was fouled, but what can I do?"