MINNESOTA COACH CHERYL REEVE
COACH REEVE: Another great game between the Fever and the Lynx. I think we learned some things and showed some grit, obviously. Indiana was going for it. They’re kind of the knockout, trying to get that second win on the road. I appreciated our resilience.
Saw some things that we can do better, no doubt, especially in crunch time. We’d like to get some shots and not turn the darn thing over and help us get separation. They’re terrific in executing, I mean, just terrific.
Q. It took Maya 13 minutes to get a basket and the five points at halftime. How much of a concern was that and how much did you need to do to get her going?
COACH REEVE: It was a big concern. She was just awful early, just awful. Shot selection, the way she was playing. It was a case where I think our team was so amped up to play, Maya being probably the one that was the most amped up, and she just had to settle down, settle down. It wasn’t for lack of wanting to do the right thing, but it was just not good.
So I thought she was going to let the game come to her. I thought Syl opened things up for us. Frankly I thought when our defense turned it up a notch, we were able to play with some flow and get some easy shots. Maya was flying around, getting some transition baskets and she just really got going from there.
Q. You mentioned after game one how second chance points hurt you. Tonight you had the 21‑point edge in that category. What was the difference?
COACH REEVE: Difference from game one to game 2? Maybe Catchings being in a little bit of foul trouble. I think for us, it’s what we do. You know, we recognize some of these matchups on the glass. Indiana does some switching. We recognized those situations. We saw she was hungry. We were hungry too. It was a battle.
Q. The lift that [Renee] Montgomery gave you defensively in the second half with 14 turnovers, how great was that?
COACH REEVE: It changed everything. I thought Renee in particular. I thought Renee in particular gave us a little more versatility in what we were doing. She spreads the floor well, takes a little pressure off [Anna] Cruz.
We were small a little bit during that time. But I think our ball pressure and our dictating a little more action gave us a chance to be successful with that group.
Q. Your counterpart was complaining about the officials saying this was a blood bath, her phrase, and she was upset that she felt that Catchings was being called for things that your team wasn’t. Any response to that?
COACH REEVE: I cannot comment on officiating. How was that, Renee [Brown]? That was good, Renee, wasn’t it? Did you hear that? That’s the first time in my life I think I did that.
Q. Did you sort of sense that Sylvia was even more aggressive and powerful from the tip?
COACH REEVE: For sure, for sure. I think she was disappointed. She was big for us in game one, but I think she was disappointed in the turnovers and getting the ball knocked out of her hands a little bit. She wanted to do better in those areas. She was impressive. Got to look at some of the foul situations because we obviously can’t have her in foul trouble. Things we can do better, but she’s a handful.
When she’s able to kind of get on the move down there. You’ve got to make a decision who you’re going to guard in the pick‑and‑roll. We had the floor spaced pretty well with that group when she was able to get some easy ones. And you know, then she’d get on the glass a little bit. Sylvia Fowles is the difference for us in terms of being able to put pressure on the inside.
Q. Were you surprised to see Catchings in the fourth quarter as early as you did?
COACH REEVE: I didn’t really pay attention. I don’t try to think for them or strategize for them. She was out there. I guess, it didn’t cross my mind.
INDIANA COACH STEPHANIE WHITE
COACH WHITE: Well, I guess first and foremost I learned a valuable lesson today. I learned that it pays to go public with comments about officials. Who would have known that? Because this game was a blood bath. I’ve never seen a player of Tamika Catchings’ caliber get so disrespected in my life, never. And to me, that’s a travesty. That’s a travesty.
We knew we had to do a better job on the boards. We didn’t do that in the first half. We had to take care of the paint; we didn’t do that. We stopped Catchings, pretty much like a Lindsay Whalen because we weren’t getting calls, right? So one up for the veteran, and a lesson learned for the rookie.
Q. Can you talk about the impact that Tamika had on what you guys wanted to do?
COACH WHITE: Well it had an impact because she does so many things other than just go for the paint. Certainly we were still in position to win the game. It’s a one‑possession ballgame with 1:29 to go. However, Tamika does a lot of things that doesn’t show up on the stat sheet. Whether it’s being in the correct rotation, keeping a play alive with the hustle play, setting great screens, occupying a defender. She creates space for us because of who she is. So, not having her on the floor hurts us in more ways than just her stats.
Q. Minnesota forced 13 turnovers against you in the second half. What did they do to disrupt you offensively?
COACH WHITE: Besides fouls, is that what you mean?
COACH WHITE: Well, obviously, you know a team like Minnesota, if you look from top to bottom, they’re the best team in the league. They’re the best team in the league for a reason, and they went small and they turned up their defensive intensity, and we lost our composure for about a minute and a half, and that’s all a problem when you play against a great team, and they capitalized on it.
I think we had four or five possessions in the fourth quarter where we just turned the ball over, and it was a five‑point game, and we can’t do that. We can’t do that. We can’t do that against anybody, let alone against one of the best teams in the league.
There is a reason they have a lot of championships. It’s not just about offense. They have been a tremendous defensive team, and they’re still a tremendous defensive team. But that small lineup really caused them some problems when we lost our composure.
Q. What was working to frustrate Maya Moore, especially in the first half? You held her to five points in the first half, and you seemed to have had her off her game for a time?
COACH WHITE: I don’t know that you really frustrate Maya Moore. I think we just tried to make things difficult. She had five points, but you know she does all those things that Tamika Catchings does for us because you’ve got to know where she is. She’s always running around. I mean she’s running around everywhere. You have to know where she is, not only one person, but two people.
So I’m not sure it’s anything that we did besides trying to make life very difficult for her. And we just weren’t able to maintain that, and we weren’t able to maintain that because we had to worry about Seimone. Lindsay Whalen only played 21 minutes but she was much more aggressive early in the ballgame until she got loose as well. So it’s one of those things with the team where you have to pick your poison.
Q. You talked about going small and that kind of changed the dynamic. Do you think the insertion of Renee Montgomery assisted their perimeter defense and made things more difficult for you?
COACH WHITE: I think Montgomery and Cruz both. Anna Cruz reminds me of Debbie Black for all the people that were covering the league back then. She’s just like a little gnat that’s all over you. It’s exhausting and it’s irritating, and you just want to slap her away.
I mean that with the utmost respect because Debbie Black is one of the all‑time greats that played in this league because of that. So to have Cruz, somebody who just hounds you and hounds you and she never gets tired, and then Montgomery as well, certainly it absolutely makes a difference.
Q. The condition of Shenise Johnson?
COACH WHITE: She got nailed by a screen. I don’t know what her condition is right now, but she’s doubled over. I really don’t. Was it a legal screen? Probably. But Tamika Catchings was a legal screen too. I think anytime you give them a foot, that’s all you have to give them.
I wasn’t complaining about the fact that it was an illegal screen; I was complaining about the fact that Tamika Catchings got called on the same screen.
Q. How important do you feel Fowles was especially in that first half in really establishing herself on the board even though she missed the putback?
COACH WHITE: I think it’s critical. Sylvia’s a beast. She’s one of those players almost like I feel like I’m talking about Tina Charles last week. But the only person who limits her is herself. I mean, with that body, with that athleticism, with how quick she gets up in the air, she should dominate. But the way that she gets in, she’s so quick off her feet, and, yeah, you can box her out, but she can get right over top of you and reach higher than you. You have to do a better job of pushing her out.
But you know what? I think she’s been playing inspired this series, and she’s a big part of what they’re doing now. It’s been a credit to Minnesota’s staff the way they’ve integrated her throughout the season because there haven’t been a lot of time without her in the lineup.
Q. Second half complete change. What was the biggest contributing factor that you saw?
COACH WHITE: Besides officiating? Again, it’s the same thing. It’s the same thing. We didn’t handle the pressure. When we were getting mulled, we got past it and we tried to get rid of it instead of getting around them. And we didn’t do a good job.
Q. Talk about when you were going to put Catchings back in? She was in very early in the fourth. Was that a conversation with her, or do you just trust that you’re going to put her in that situation?
COACH WHITE: It’s not really like you have a choice. You can’t let Minnesota up because they can score so quickly, because they can make runs so quickly, you have to have her on the floor. I certainly trust that she’s going to do what she can do to keep herself from fouling out.
She’s been a Defensive Player of the Year a number of times and all‑defensive team a number of times, so you’ve got to trust that. But honestly, yeah, I would have liked to milk a couple more minutes, but I didn’t feel like we had a choice.
SYLVIA FOWLES AND MAYA MOORE
Q. Tonight second chance points were 21‑8 in your favor. How determined were you guys to turn that number around and really assert yourself in the paint this time?
SYLVIA FOWLES: Just lock in and know we wanted to get our points in the paint, that’s where we want to be, and just having faith in our teammates that we can get it done.
Q. For both of you, did you want to make this a physical game?
MAYA MOORE: We want to do what we want to do. If that means being physical, it means being physical. We definitely tried to make a great effort to be the aggressor, and obviously that’s going to be the goal of both teams to be the aggressor. But I thought we were able to do that for longer stretches tonight.
Q. To either one of you, Cheryl Reeve was talking about the execution down the stretch. Was it a function of good defense or was there something else going on?
SYLVIA FOWLES: I think Seimone Augustus, Anna Cruz, and (No Audio).
Q. Sylvia, in the first half you were really pounding the paint. And in this series overall you’ve been successful down there. What do you credit to this start of yours?
SYLVIA FOWLES: Having the sluggish start the first game played a big factor. And my teammates just having faith in me and just getting me the ball when I need it and where I need it to be to be successful.
Q. The series now reverts over to Indiana. What can we see out of you guys on Friday?
MAYA MOORE: First two games, so it’s set up to be a very entertaining Game 3. It will be a dog fight just like it has been these first two games. It’s set up to be a very entertaining Game 3 with both teams very hungry. I think after the horn blew both teams were still wanting to go. We’re ready to go for Game 3.
Q. The intensity, you were very animated throughout the game. How much did that intensity help you guys on the defensive end, especially in the second half?
MAYA MOORE: It’s huge. We’re connected. We’re invested. Everyone’s focused, communicating, people coming in off the bench doing the same thing, increasing the level of energy even. Playing hard and sticking together and end up making our own breaks. You see that emotion from us. Yeah, you probably have some pretty entertaining pictures from tonight because we were pretty animated.
BRIANN JANUARY AND TAMIKA CATCHINGS
Q. Tamika, will you talk about your foul situation and how it impacted what you thought you could do tonight and then just the playing time late in the game when you’re playing with five fouls. Is that a discussion with you and Steph or a trust that you’re going to stay in the game?
TAMIKA CATCHINGS: Definitely a trust that I was going to stay in the game. As far as the foul situation, I mean I think our game and when you look at the history of just basketball, some calls go the way you want them and some calls go the way you don’t want them. Unfortunately, for me, it didn’t necessarily go the way I wanted to.
But I felt like my team competed really hard. We put ourselves in a position to win this game. At the end of the day, we’re frustrated more so because we didn’t take advantage of the opportunities that we had.
So beyond everything else that went wrong tonight, the one thing when we look at each other and we look in our eyes, we know we didn’t take care of business tonight when it came down the stretch.
Q. (No microphone)?
TAMIKA CATCHINGS: Just lost focus. As a team, we lost our poise, we lost our composure, and we’re too good for that. We’re too good of a team to let things like that detour us and what we’re trying to do and what we’re trying to accomplish. So at the end of the day, yeah, we make mistakes, and a lot of times you’re just trying to thread the needle. Instead of making the awesome play, we just need to make a play, and we didn’t take care of it. We didn’t take care of business down the stretch.
Q. Briann, you guys looked like you were going to go into halftime maybe down and Maggie hits the three with the foul and you guys go one up. Did you feel that was a momentum push for you guys into the second half?
BRIANN JANUARY: Definitely. That was a great way to head into the half. But as you know, when you play against a good team, it’s a game of runs. They weren’t going to let that defeat them. They were going to come back. They were going to answer back and they did. That’s what this game is about. When two great teams are going at each other, there is going to be a run eventually. We’re going to go on runs ourselves and they are too. It’s all about responding to those.
Q. The series is going to revert back to Indiana on Friday. What can we expect to see with you playing in front of your home crowd?
TAMIKA CATCHINGS: The best fans in the WNBA are going to be in the house.
BRIANN JANUARY: That’s right.
TAMIKA CATCHINGS: And we’re going to come and we’re going to be ready. I told our team and we told our team, we are going to bottle up every sense of frustration, every sense of anger, every sense of knowing what we didn’t do and what we didn’t accomplish tonight, put that in a bottle and let it explode when we get back home.
Q. Briann, was it just a matter of time? It seemed like you had Maya frustrated for the first half and maybe into the second half. Was it just a matter of time? Is she that type of player where she’s going to get it figured out eventually?
BRIANN JANUARY: I don’t know about figured it out, but she’s going to hit some tough shots and we were prepared for that. With a great player, you can just do your best to make her uncomfortable. But I think we did a good job of keeping her on her toes. Making her take tough fadeaway shots that were contested.
Yeah, with a player like that, you can’t let her get loose. You have to stay connected the entire time. Yeah, we’re going to continue to work. It’s not a one person job. It’s a team defense that we do, so everybody has to have each other’s back, especially when you have great players like that all around. We have to be together and united on our defensive front.
Q. You missed your last five three pointers in this game?
BRIANN JANUARY: I think we just weren’t settling. We were as aggressive in the first half to the rim, but that’s one of the things we need to continue. That’s our style of basketball. We are an aggressive style basketball team. We need to keep attacking. We have some of the best rim attackers in the league, and that’s what we need to stick to and we need to maintain throughout the course of the game. That’s how we get easier shots on the perimeter.
Q. How strongly do you feel like you guys missed an opportunity tonight?
TAMIKA CATCHINGS: Very strong, very strong. I think Minnesota came out and they played really, really good. They played very, very good tonight. I think for us they played very, very good tonight. I think for us, overall when you look at the heart this team has and what we’ve accomplished to be here, that says a lot.
So when you look at a missed opportunity, I’m shaking because I’m very frustrated.