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WNBA Finals Game 4 Quotes

Minnesota Lynx

Cheryl Reeve

Reeve: I know you guys are going to be writing about how eerily similar things have gone in this five-game series as last year, and I guess rightfully so. I’m just proud of our team. Not many teams have come in — actually one team this season has come in here and won a game, so we knew it was a tall task. Obviously we were up for it, and we were prepared to do whatever was necessary. I think our hustle plays were the story of the game. Getting them on the glass, making our own breaks, that’s what we’re about, and we finally got that done today.

Q: On Rebekkah Brunson and Sylvia Fowles’ impact tonight:

Reeve: Their competitive fire. This is a group that — they just rise to the challenge. I mean, obviously Rebekkah has had moments in the series where she doesn’t necessarily feel great about what’s happened, and she’s just someone that just responds. They’re picking their poison and they’re telling her, you’re going to have to play well, and each time has we’ve won. From the standpoint of our team, she is a huge part of our identity, and having her on the floor is really important to us. I was particularly proud of her today.

Q: On what she told her team before the game:

Reeve: That the only thing that mattered at this point was the 75 possessions we were about to play. Whatever happened in Game 1, whatever happened in Game 2, whatever happened in Game 3 just had no bearing on what was about to happen, and we had to pour everything we had into the coming 75 possessions, and I thought we did that.

Q: On the Lynx’s response following Lindsay Whalen’s flagrant foul on Odyssey Sims:

Reeve: I think we went on a 32-15 or 32-17 or something like that run. I don’t know if that had anything to do with it, but I think it goes both ways. I think each team has a mindset that you just don’t want to give your opponent anything easy. I think it was kind of interesting Magic [Johnson] sitting there. I suspect he probably remembers a day when that was just a foul, not review and a flagrant, and it was just a foul. It was a playoff foul. We have this new term of “unnecessary.” Well, that’s kind of subjective. We thought it was necessary that she not get the lay-up off. But the new rules and the world that we live in was it deemed as unnecessary. At the end of the day, it’s just a competitive player. Odyssey is competitive, Lindsay is competitive. I’m not sure if that’s the reason why our team had a response. I thought we were in pretty good shape mentally even outside of that play.

Q: On Lindsay Whalen’s leadership:

Reeve: She’s just critical to our team. She’s our floor general. All the clichés you want to use about your point guard. We feed off of Lindsay, and if you’re around our group, you understand that’s a player — I didn’t bench her in Game 3. We just thought there was something better, but for her she just takes that as — she doesn’t want to be on the sideline. She wants to be out there with her team. She was disappointed in maybe the way that she managed the game in Game 3, and she was persistent, as was Brunson, to make sure that she impacted the game from a leadership standpoint. I think that was the game that she said, I’ve got to be a better leader, and I thought she was tough minded. I thought she was excellent at getting us organized and getting us into our stuff. Not a perfect game by any stretch, but it’s her toughness that has made Lindsay Whalen the player that she is today.

Q: On if the team was worried heading into Game 4:

Reeve: I think we’re a confident group. I think we’re a group obviously that’s been through a lot through the years. We’ve been in tough Finals series before, obviously as early as last year. We’re just a team that’s tough minded, resilient, when our backs are against the wall — I think LA would probably say the same thing. I think we share that as a team with them, and I think that was probably it. I think our shootaround was exceptional. I thought our preparation and our mindset was exceptional, and I was hoping they were going to get rewarded with the way that they approached that, and they carried it into the game, which was great.

Q: On the leadership Maya Moore and Seimone Augustus bring to the Lynx:

Reeve: And I did say that because people ask, are you worried going into Game 4? For whatever reason I don’t — if you don’t win, your season is over, but you can’t think like that. You just want to pour everything you have into 75 possessions and let the chips fall where they might. I thought we were incredibly focused because of Lindsay, Seimone, Rebekkah and Maya. They’re a group — and Syl. She’s not one of my captains, but those are my five starters, and they’re unbelievable leaders. They have unbelievable confidence in themselves, and they have this fire in their belly that is second to none, and you follow their lead, and they just — it’s been a group that has so much confidence in each other, belief in what we’re doing, belief in our identity, and obviously we were fortunate enough to win the game tonight.

Rebekkah Brunson and Sylvia Fowles

Q: On letting Game 3 motivate tonight’s performance:

Fowles: Most definitely. We didn’t like how Game 3 ended for us, and we just wanted to come out and set the tempo and set the tone, and for the five that was out there, we wanted to make sure we had high energy, and I think Brunson set the tone from the start, and we pretty much just followed her lead.

Q: On if there is home-court advantage for Game 5:

Fowles: Advantage, no. We’re back at Game 5. But we want to make sure we come out and we play well while we’re home, and we want to make sure we take care of business.

Q: On the Minnesota Lynx fans’ presence at Staples Center:

Brunson: Yeah, we appreciate it. We love it. They’ve been rolling with us all year. They’re always there. They travel. This isn’t the first time they’ve come on the road with us, so we really
appreciate everything that they do for us. I mean, it was nice to feel them tonight.

Q: On coming out with a strong performance in Game 4:

Brunson: I absolutely felt like I needed to bring more energy tonight, and I was hoping that my team would be able to feed off of that. I think that I just need to continue to go out there and be aggressive and play hard.

Q: On being a more focal point of offense in Game 4:

Fowles: Just making sure I give my guards a better target and my post players when they’re out there on the wing, just give them a good outlet so they can see me so I can get more touches. I think that’s the difference between Game 3 and Game 4.

Q: On Minnesota’s rebounding advantage in Game 4:

Brunson: I think throughout this series, we kind of understand that rebounding is key. It’s a huge part of both teams’ identities, and we know that
we wanted to set the tone with that.

Q: On lessons learned from Game 5 of the 2016 WNBA Finals to take to Game 5 this year:

Fowles: Just make sure we’re ready for the start. We know it’s a 40-minute game, and throughout the game it’s going to be highs and lows, so we just want to make sure we’re all on the same page as a unit and making sure we treat each other well when the lows are too low.

Brunson: Nothing is guaranteed. It doesn’t matter where you’re playing, but you just have to go out there and be prepared for anything to happen. You never really know what’s going to happen out there, so you just have to go out there and leave it all out there. We’ve been in this situation. We were in this last year, so it’s pretty familiar, but we just have to go out there and play.

Q: On the flagrant foul on Odyssey Sims from Lindsay Whalen:

Fowles: It’s just the heat of the moment. If you know Whay, she don’t mean any harm. She’s very dramatic, and that’s how she gets us going. If that’s what it took, then that’s what it took. I mean, I think it was positive energy after that, and she got us going.

 

Maya Moore, Minnesota Lynx

Q: On Rebbekah Brunson’s performance:

Moore: It’s just fun getting back to that me, B, Syl – one of us, sometimes two of us at a time just constantly trying to cause havoc at any point on the boards. That’s our job. B.B. was just found a really good rhythm with attacking and moving. It was fun to see her get rewarded for her aggression.

Q: On the shift from Friday to Sunday:

Moore: We’re going to compete. We’re not going to quit. To be able to bring that level of competitiveness for forty minutes is what’s required to win a championship. That’s exactly what we knew we could do. We expect no less from L.A. on Wednesday.

Q: On the defensive intensity tonight:

Moore: Both teams are trying to make it hard for each other to score. Just trying to be active, locked-in and play great team defense.

Q: On what going home for Game 5 will be like:

Moore: It’s going to be great to be able to take advantage of what we worked for all regular season – to have home court advantage. They stole one from us. We stole one from them. Now, it’s one game left. We’re excited for the opportunity to compete for our goal in front of our fans.

Q: On if she’s surprised that the series is going the distance:

Moore: Both teams are so competitive and talented. It’s really an interesting series. Some days, you feel like oh man, they just killed us. Both teams feel that way…. It’s such a rollercoaster of a series so I was definitely expecting that. So, it’s very fitting that it’s going five.

 

Seimone Augustus, Minnesota Lynx

Q: You guys did the same thing a year ago, what does it mean go get back Minnesota?

Augustus: I want to get back there. Our fans built a home environment that is tough for anyone to play in. The Barn is a different atmosphere where the fans feel like they are sitting on top of you as opposed to the Target center. It’s going to be amazing in the that gym, it’s going to loud and our fans are going to have fun and we’re going to enjoy being in that atmosphere.

Q: This series is exactly where last year was. Will you have a rewrite for the final game?

Augustus: We will have a rewrite for the final game. We have to put that energy out there. It’s great for basketball, for women’s basketball. People are just admiring our game at this point and everyone is tuning in to see what’s happening.

Q: Do you think the metal roof  on Williams Arena will be reverberating?

Augustus: Yes, it’s going to be crazy. It was to the point where we couldn’t hear. It’s like Camp Days when the kids come in and they are screaming, so we are expecting it.

 Q: Can you talk about tonight’s game, what was the difference out there?

Augustus: The energy that Brunson brought, the fact that she mixed it up a lot tonight.  L.A. has been daring her to take shots and be aggressive, and tonight she had a great variety of that. She took shots when she was open, she drove to the basket, found herself in the paint, made plays, she was just active as far as moving and causing for them [L.A.] and opened up the floor for us.

 

Los Angeles Sparks 

Brian Agler, Los Angeles Sparks

Agler: I want to congratulate Minnesota. I thought they played extremely well, played to their strengths, played determined. We’ll have to regroup and get ready for Game 5.

Q: On the rebounding disadvantage the Lynx faced:

Agler: Yeah, to compete with Minnesota you have to stay in the game with them with the rebounding, and obviously that was a wide margin tonight. But they were the most aggressive team. There wasn’t any question. They doubled their free throw attempts, and I’m not saying that to debate the officiating. That’s not the point. The point is that they were a lot more aggressive, got themselves to the free throw line, gave themselves opportunities, gave themselves second-chance points off offensive boards. We just didn’t play the way we need to play to have success against them, and they did the things they needed to do to have success against us.

Q: On their offensive performance in Game 4:

Agler: No, I give credit to Minnesota. You know, obviously I don’t think we had some individuals play great games, and there’s some things obviously we can do better, but I think they had a lot to do with that. They played a great defensive game. They made it very difficult for us. Our offense didn’t flow as well as we would have liked. Didn’t make great decisions. So again, you know, we will travel up there tomorrow, regroup, and start planning for Wednesday.

Q: On the Sparks’ shot selection in Game 4:

Agler: I thought our shot selection in the first half was not very good. I thought we panicked offensively when we were sort of falling behind. Second half, you know, we had to be more aggressive,
so the decision-making there was a little bit different. But I thought in the balance of the game in the first half, I thought our shot selection could have been much better. I thought we settled for a lot of early mid-range jump shots.

Q: On why the Sparks’ fourth quarter comeback fell short:

Agler: Couldn’t get stops. They got a couple key offensive rebounds, second-chance points. I think we had it down to eight maybe at one time. But when you put yourself in a hole like that, I mean, there’s just zero room for error, so you can sit here and debate, okay, what could you have done, you but the biggest thing what we’d like to do is not put ourselves in that
position.

Q: On the differences from Game 3’s victory for the Sparks

Agler:  Rebounded better. We rebounded better. I think we out-rebounded by one on our last game, Game 3. To me, that was a huge difference. I thought defensively once we got into the possession, we did some good things. I thought they were really thorough on what they wanted to do, and when you give somebody a lot of second opportunities, they’re going to score on you.

Q: On what to watch for in Game 5

Agler: I think it’ll be hard-fought. I can’t predict the outcome. I know there’s a lot of things for us to have success against them they have to do and there’s a lot of things against us they have to do to have success. We’ve got to focus on ourselves and try to do some things a little bit different, a little bit better.

Nneka Ogwumike and Odyssey Sims, Los Angeles Sparks

Q: On Minnesota’s edge on rebounding in Game 4:

Ogwumike:  I mean, I think they had that mentality going in, and we responded a bit late. We have to be able to keep rebounding in the forefront of our minds from the beginning of the game.

Q: On the comfort the Sparks may have having been in the same situation last season:

Ogwumike: I mean, I guess I could answer that. No disrespect at all to that question, but I’m really tired of that question. I mean, this year is this year. No disrespect at all, that’s just like the hundredth time I’ve heard it. This year is a different year, and I know it’s the same, and I know that’s what everyone here wants to talk about, but it’s a different year.

Q: On the mentality heading into Game 5:

Sims: We’ve just got to regroup. We’ve got a quick turnaround, we’ve just got to get better in practice, watch film, correct, what we didn’t do, have a lot more energy, stay positive, and get ready for Game 5. It’s that simple.

Ogwumike: I think right now there’s a lot of emotions going on, but we can’t dwell there. You know, you can feel it, respect those feelings, but tomorrow is a new day. We’ll push forward from there.

Q: On Lindsay Whalen’s flagrant foul on Sims:

Sims: I mean, it was the beginning of the game. It’s over now. We’re not talking about that. Like I said, our mindset is focusing on getting better and
concentrating on Game 5.

Q: On the opportunities for the Sparks in the fourth quarter:

Sims: I’m just taking what the defense gives me, but right now it’s not about me, it’s about my team. Collectively we have to do better, and we all know we have to do better. We know what it has to take collectively as a group to regroup and to get better and focus on Game 5.

 

Chelsea Gray, Los Angeles Sparks

Q: Rebounding was one of the keys of tonight’s game, especially Minnesota’s offensive rebounding. How will you guys work to try and keep them off the glass?

Gray: We just have to want it more and get on the boards.

Q: Do you think it was more of an issue with effort or execution?  

Gray: I think both.  

 Q: You were in the same position last season, heading to Minnesota for Game 5 and bringing home the championship. Will you all draw from that experience?

Gray: Yeah, hopefully. That’s why it’s a series.  

 

Candace Parker, Los Angeles Sparks

Q: Minnesota’s rebounding, especially on the offensive glass was a huge storyline tonight. How can you all do better at keeping them off the glass?

Parker: We have to box out and we have to rebound. It’s no secret they killed us on the glass and we’re not going to win many games giving up 16 offensive rebounds.

Q: You guys were in the same position last year, going to Minnesota for a Game 5 and you ended up bringing the championship home. Do you think that experience gives you all the upper hand?

Parker: I don’t know. I think the point is we have to play better. I don’t believe things will happen because they’re supposed to or they happened in the past. We have to make things happen and do a better job of flow. I just think we didn’t really play like ourselves tonight. Obviously all the credit to them, they played hard and got 16 offensive rebounds and were able to grind it out.

Q: Is there anything defensively that they did to frustrate you on the offensive end?

Parker: I think our quick shots and the fact that we were playing against five set every time because they were getting offensive rebounds and scoring. We weren’t really able to have a lot of flow and I think that hurt us.

 

Alana Beard, Los Angeles Sparks

Q: How physical was it tonight?

Beard: It wasn’t any different than the past three games have been but this is a physical matchup. 

Q: Minnesota seemed like a very desperate team tonight…..

Beard: Yea, understood. They didn’t want to go home and they played as if they wanted it more, in terms of how they rebounded and did all the little things it takes to get the win.  

 Q: Having won the championship in a Game 5 in Minnesota last season, will you all draw off of that experience? 

Beard: No, it’s a new season. Last year was last year. We won a championship there but this is a new season and it will come down to who wants it more.

 Q: Rebounding was a huge story of the game, especially offensive rebounding, I’m sure it’s something you guys will work on for next game.

Beard: Absolutely, it was something we emphasized going into this game and then coming into halftime, but we couldn’t do the job on the boards. At the end of the day, that killed us.

 Q: Tonight’s crowd was one of the larger crowds I’ve seen here. Do you think you all could’ve put a lot of pressure on yourself to win the game at home?

Beard: Obviously you want to win in front of your home crowd but I don’t know if that was any added pressure. We have bene in this position before and it came down to the intangibles, and they beat us in that area.