So in light of that, it was scripted about as good as you could. And I think that apropos for our team that they had to do it on the defense end to get a win. So we had to get a defensive stop. We had a big debate at the timeout whether to switch out and play man and my Assistant Coach Corey Gaines looked me in the eye and he said "Let's go with what we have been playing all year, play that softer zone. So we played the rougher zone. And I reminded myself. Don't get amnesia. By that I mean, if you're doing things and they work, don't forget them and make something up. So we did not get amnesia, our players played our zone at the end and got a stop."
How much confidence do you have in Cappie just to be able to create her on shot and get off good shots in the last couple possessions?
Westhead: "You might want to look at the line there. I think about 80 percent of the possessions in the second half were going through her hands. We made that decision at halftime. We changed our play call action when we had to, of course we're still trying to run our break, but we ran what we call a lot of 3 push, which gets her coming up off the screen and then some pick and roll action. She has multiple things to do. But it was all going through Cappie's hands."
Why did you make that decision at halftime?
Westhead: "We made that decision because we have great faith in her ability to take the ball hard to the basket and make something happen.
She's just a tireless player going to the rim. You get in her way, you foul her, you don't foul her, she misses, she's going to get her own rebound back and put it back up again. She's just a tenacious player. And she will get it to open people like she did -- I thought it was Penny, but it was Cappie who kicked that ball out for Kelly Miller's three pointer. Big three pointer for Kelly Miller. Struggling a little bit like a lot of our players tonight, not making shots. You're not going to see that line -- well, you might see it one more time this season, but you're not going to see that line very much."
Is she your best option when it slows down, when the game slows down?
"We have evolved into this from end of game situations during the regular season to many situations where we just get that ball in her hands and we run what we call our cross, which she, like D on defense, she's free to kind of create and do her thing.
So sometimes that's take it to the basket, sometimes that's pull up and shoot the jumper and many times it's to deal it to her teammates. So everybody has to have like a go to thing that you just say, "Here's what you do when things are stuck." Well, when we're stuck, we're getting the ball in Cappie's hands."
It's been a wild series, what do you expect Sunday?
"I just would like to back off for a second. If I'm a fan of basketball, if I'm a WNBA fan, I couldn't have asked for anything more. Here we go. There have been four terrific great games. We felt kind of proud of the games we lost. Because we played our heart out. So now this is the fitting caption of, this is my first go around in this league of a terrific series here, so I'm happy to play this game anywhere. I would play Istanbul or Paris or Moscow, or Detroit, Michigan, we're going to be happy to play and we're going in expecting that we're going to win a championship."
The offense has been dropping off quite a bit lately, what does it say about your team when you can score only 77 and still win a game?
"It says we're improving our defense. Yeah, I looked at the halftime stats, I said "This can't continue." We're just missing shots that we normally make and it did continue.
So I have to give credit to Detroit's defense, they're getting in us and we're not shooting as free and easy. But I'll take this anywhere in the world. My team's going to come out shooting and firing and making baskets. We're not going to -- win or lose, I don't think we're going to be in that low scoring scenario. That's my take."
Does it frustrate you seeing layup after layup that just didn't fall for you guys tonight?
"I got a little used to it there for awhile. Yeah, it is, but I'm happy that we have played, that is we could get some good inside looks. I know my players can miss shots but I know they're not going to keep missing. So I'm happy for them."
"It's going to be a really hard game. We know that. Like the other four have been.
I think we just have to go to Detroit and just focus. Really have to be focused, because that house is going to be crowded. Their players are going to come out extra energized, extra ready to go, we're going to have to find a way to match it."
Can you address what this journey has been like for you and Cappie playing together? What it's like going through this now together?
It's sweet. It really sweet, it's a lot sweeter being on the same side. And Cappie and I have known each other for a long time. Going back to USA Basketball. Going back to Rutgers and Connecticut. Where she couldn't beat us.
And then -- but it's truly been a great journey to share it with her even last year. We knew we had something special and if we really focused and challenged each other that we thought in the back of your heads we would get to this moment, but we still have a long way to go. But today she showed why she's not only one of the best players in this league but in the world right now. Without a doubt.
Did you think that you could actually play almost their style of play and come out with a W?
"No matter what, in games like this, people want to talk about the up tempo, but all year we have been grinding games, we won it our way, we won it other ways. And when the score is 90-90 or 70-70 the last two minutes is about possessions and stops. Today we fell back on getting stops and making plays on the other end, which we have done all year. So I think that just shows how much fight this team has. And I think that it will go a long way."
Can you just talk about the last 18 seconds, what happened defensively for you guys to give them no shot.
“We talked about that in the huddle and we were probably thinking they were going to go back to Deanna who had a huge shot the possession before. And we just kind of stuck to our guns, sat back in that zone, and made some reads, took away some things that they were going for and at the end the gods were with us, the shot didn't go in. So. Sometimes they go in, sometimes they don't."
“Something I love doing. Especially with a minute to go, I just love having the ball and making things happen. And I just thank the coach for just giving me the confidence to allow me to do that. My teammates too."
Cappie, just to follow-up, some players don't want the ball, why do you love to have the ball in your hands?
"I just -- the mentality that I have. I love, I'm a winner. I love to win. And when the game's on the line I feel like I can win every time."
It's on the line Sunday, can you both talk about Game 5, what's ahead?
"We know it's going to be intense. But at the same time, we worked hard to get to this point. And we're going to take advantage of it. We're going to come out really aggressive. We're going to play hard and do whatever we can.
It's now or never. We know that Detroit is a great team, they have a great coaching staff and it's going to be a great fight. And a great game to watch."
(On tonight’s crowd)
“It was incredible; I have never seen them get so into a game before. I have never been to a Suns game but I can’t imagine it being much better than that.”
(On halftime adjustments)
“Coach encouraged us to keep being aggressive and to take it to the basket. Cappie was taking it to the basket and made some incredible shots, Diana was hitting her shots and Kelly Miller hit some huge shots at the end at the end for us. We stayed positive and aggressive and that’s what got it done”
(On series aggressive play)
“I don’t expect anything less from them but more aggressive play and it will be another fight as that’s the way it should be.”
(On her poor shooting)
“I was shooting terrible and missing lay-ups, and at one point I decided it would be better to get the ball in someone else’s hands. I probably should have kept shooting and taking the open ones, but I’ll just take it into next game”
(On preparing for game five)
“We’ll work in some easy sessions and watch some film to learn from this game. It’s a shame that its two days away we want to get out there and get it done now.”
(On Game 5)
“Like we’ve done all season and throughout this series-we’re going to come out and play the way we know how to play. We’re going to keep pushing the ball and running and play our game. We’re not really going to change anything for the last game.”
We had too many. Especially we had six turnovers in the fourth quarter. That can't happen when you're trying to close out a series. We know that. We still did it. It is a little disappointing.
Our players know it. They know that while we played hard, we played focused, we didn't play well. And that's something that we're going to have to address in the next couple days because now we go home.
But that's why we played the whole season. The regular season was a grind for us. We got through it. With the sole purpose of if we had to play a game in a series, we would play it at home. And all these series have gone to the last game in our building, they did what they had to do, now we're going home to do what we have to do."
Coach Westhead was talking about how he ran the offense through Cappie in the second half and they made the decision at halftime. Is that difficult for you, her ability to create her own shots?
"I don't know about difficult, we have good defending guards. She made some big shots, no questions about that. But that's what she does. That's just one of those things that we'll look at how we can help in certain situations, but great players make great shots. We have them too. And it just worked out for their favor today."
Are you pleased with the way that with each passing game you're able to hold them to fewer points, because they are an offensively powered team?
"Well, yeah, we played good defense. Make no mistake about that. We're a solid defensive ball club. We think we're the best one in the league. And that's sort of what we carry our baggage. We like being a defensive ball club. They're an offensive ball club. They can make shots and they did tonight. We knew they were going to. We still need to execute in the fourth quarter when the game was on the line and we didn't. We had six turnovers. And they're playing zone. That just can't happen. You have to be a little bit more focused than that. And if we had taken care of the ball, we would be celebrating right now. But we didn't, so we move on. We play another game."
Did Cheryl re-injure her knee in the last couple minutes?
"Yeah, I would be extremely pessimistic about her having an opportunity to play in Game 5."
What do you expect in Game 5 Sunday? What kind of game are you looking for?
"I'm looking for a game that we don't turn the ball over 19 times. That's what I'm looking for out of our players. I'm looking for every player on our ball club to step up and play with the fire and the intensity necessary to win a championship. That's what we do. That's who we are. We will be a man down, okay. Been there, done that before too. I told our players I've been in every situation you can possibly dream of. I've been in the most brutal losses. I've been into games where you make buzzer shots to win championships. I won championships, I lost them. Okay. This is what we played the whole season for this moment. And that's what we're going to do, take care of business."
Talk about that last sequence, the last play of the game. Did you get the shot you wanted or is that what you planned for or what transpired there?
"Well, no, it wasn't the shot we wanted to. We wanted to get the ball in Deanna Nolan's hands. We wanted to go to Tweety to get a shot. She felt she was unable to get her own shot and passed it to Pee Wee. It didn't go in."
Could you just talk about Plenette and what she was able to do offensively to hit 9 or 10 from the floor?
"She played outstanding offensive- wise. She turned the ball over a little too much, but she was very aggressive, made her shots, we needed to get a few more defensive rebounds for us because that's one of the keys, that is, I thought kept them in the game is they got too many offensive rebounds today and that's two games in a row after we talked about it. So we have to work harder on that one."
Cappie in the second half, was she, were you guys slow to help on defensive end or was she just really beating you right down the lane?
"We don't really help very much. We're a very sound individual defensive ball club. So we play good one-on-one. Our guards are outstanding defenders, I thought Cappie Pondexter made some big shots. They weren't, they were very well contested, that's what great players do. They make great shots. And give her all the credit in the world."
Do you feel at all like one slipped away when you look at Penny Taylor and Tangela Smith they were 2-21 from the floor when they both have an off night like that that you weren't able to capitalize?
"That happens. We can say the other way too. Look at our -- Cheryl Ford 2-9 and Pee Wee, 2-7. So it's just the way the game flows, that's all."
Could you please talk about your experience in elimination games 7-0. Obviously a tough loss, but do you feel that you're going to bounce back?
"We play for the moment. That's what we do. And today was no exception. I thought we came -- we played hard. We didn't get it done. We didn't play smart, we played with enough fire and intensity to give ourself a chance to win. We like games like this. We enjoy elimination games. It makes us concentrate, it makes us play hard for the entire game. And that's what we're looking forward to in Game 5. We're going to have a packed house, it's going to be a zoo like it always has been the last couple times we won championships in Detroit and hopefully it's going to spur to us bigger and better things."
First of all, can you just talk about the disappointment and getting so close and having to go play one more game.
Smith: " Disappointed. I think we played hard, I don't think we played great basketball. I think we had spurts where we had too many turnovers, getting back in transition, maybe bad decisions on offense. So disappointed that it was kind of right there and didn't quite seize the moment."
Could you please talk about the physicalness of the game and what happened to your eye.
Smith: "Physicalness of the game, it is what it is. It's basketball. I don't necessarily think anything is outrageous or different. This is what the league is. This is what we do every day.
But I got hit in the eye with an offhand and no, it is what it is. We just want it to be as long as they call the game fair, we're good. And tonight it was fine. It's just that they made more plays, made shots down the stretch. We couldn't get a stop or a rebound. But it didn't come down to the last couple of plays, it came down to the whole game."
How was Cappie able to break through like she did in the second half?
Smith: "Honestly, I'm not real sure of obviously kind of strung out on Diana, but I think they went a lot of high pick and rolls with Cappie and sometimes she used them, sometimes she didn't. And got in the lane, tried to help off of Miller a little bit. And she nailed a couple shots, big shots for them. So she just kind of isolated up front and obviously we'll have to look at than see how we can guard that. But she had made a couple tough moves and Tweety is a great defender and she stuck with it on that last offensive rebound and put back, so."
Seems like you guys had a chance to put them away there in the third quarter. Can you talk about that moment again?
Smith: "We hit a couple buckets, got a little cushion, not much against them.
And it they came and pushed it right down our throats. We had an, offensively, had a couple turnovers. And they had a couple run outs on us and we weren't matched up and they knocked down some shots. So the momentum, obviously, they, whatever we had, they took away. And basically back to an even playing field.
But, yeah, would have liked to have kind of extended that a little bit but obviously didn't take advantage of that."
What kind of shot did you guys want to get on that last possession?
Smith: "Obviously wanted to try to get Tweety the ball, we ran a man set against their zone, didn't quite open up. They kind of were crowded in the middle. And then we just wanted, honestly, to just somehow, obviously, get Tweety the ball and let her break it down a little bit and obviously they ran at her and Pee Wee got a shot in the corner and got a tough shot off in the corner at least."
Talk about how tough Diana is to handle in contrast with the other defenders you've gone against?
Smith: "She's tough because she's a big guard. She can, when she's driving, she's pretty quick and but she's also got a body that she can bump you off with. Obviously her range, you have to respect her range and at least guard her, even past the 3-putt line. She's good at transition. She got a couple looks in transition that she hit when we weren't matched up or I took somebody else and somebody else had to pick her up and we were in a little bit of miscommunication.
So she took advantage of those opportunities because it's obviously we do a decent job of her, with her in the half court and she's getting good picks set for her and she will knock them down. But we had to limit the ones that she gets in transition where she's flat out open and in those quick ones. So the other ones, we'll take, she can earn those and as I said the transition ones are the ones that we would like to limit."
You played often without Cheryl this season, but did it, was it a little rattling just to see her go down like that at the last couple seconds?
Smith: "Disappointing. Obviously we're hurting for her. She's been battling. She he's every day doing rehab and doing treatment and anybody that's had an injury that's just a pain. It's just you spend hours and hours and hours. And you just try to get it going and she's come out and she's played a lot of minutes and through a lot of pain and you know what, thank her for everything she's given an and hopefully she will be back at it on Sunday.
If not, by all means we have enough to play good basketball and I hope everybody's excited about the chance if she plays or not. It will give more minutes for somebody to make a difference and let's hope we all take advantage of that."
(On going home for Game 5)
"Yeah we feel pretty good – like I said, it’s the best out of five, not best out of four – so we know we got another shot at it, a second chance at it. We’ll see how Cheryl’s feeling but if not, we’ll get the chance for some people to step up."
(On the physicality of the series)
"Well of course, there’s been a lot of talking here and there and picks and all kinds of things going on, but you can’t get caught up in all of that. You gotta’ just keep playing."
(On the last play)
"A shot for me coming to the middle of the zone – free throw line extended to get a shot – but that wasn’t open, so towards the end we just kind of had to get to the basket or get a clear shot."
(On moving forward to Game 5)
"Just stop their second shot – that’s what killed us toward the end of the fourth quarter. We got the lead back and forth cause of those second opportunities, but you get those stops and you win that game."
(On Game 4)
Pierson: "They made shots – they made the big shots…they got the rebounds. Last game we made the big shots…they made big shots."
(On the positives from Game 4)
Pierson: "Yeah we played good, we helped each other as a team playing defense. I don’t know what else to say…we kept them under their three-point shooting percentage, they didn’t score 100 points…there are a lot of positives we can take from this, but you always see the negatives cause we need to change that for the next game."
(On her confidence from being in this situation before)
Pierson: "You know, at this point we have all the confidence in the world – it’s about putting the ball in the basket. It’s about making the stops – it has nothing to do with confidence. Skill – that’s what its going to come down to – skill."
(On the turnovers in Game)
Pierson: "It always hurts you when you have turnovers, I mean what’s new, they capitalized on them, we turned it over, we made the mistakes, they capitalized."