Postgame Quotes: Western Conference Finals Game 1

Head Coach Michael Cooper

(Opening statement:) “What a game. The playoffs have begun. As Pat Riley would say, the playoffs start when one team wins on another team’s floor. We’re going to head down to Phoenix for two games, and we’re going to go down there and get this first one.”

(What was the key breakdown of the game?) “I thought we had some bad turnovers down the stretch. With a team like this, you can’t give them five or six attempts like we did that one possession because it hurts you.”

(What makes you think your team can win two games in a row on Phoenix’s home floor?) “What makes me think? Because we’re a very good basketball team. I don’t think, I know.”

(On the way his team matches up with Phoenix:) “They are a very good basketball team, but we didn’t get down in a defensive stance like we have in the past. We can play against this team; Phoenix is a one-on-one perimeter shooting team, and you have to treat them that way. I think we over-helped a little too much to give them some open threes, and people have to take the responsibility and take the challenge to guard their player one-on-one and at least take their first move away from them and make them tough shots.”

(What are you going to do between now and Friday to reach a different outcome in Game 2?) “There’ll be some slight adjustments, but again I thought we played a good basketball game. We were in this up until about five minutes to go, we were right there, and again we consistently didn’t make big plays we needed to make. We messed up some transition attempts we could have had with turnovers, I thought we took some quick shots when we had an opportunity.”

(What is the one key takeaway from tonight’s loss?) “I think our biggest problem is going to be playing a little smarter and not shooting ourselves in the foot by turning the ball over.”

Candace Parker #3

(On Game:) “Obviously the game didn’t come out in our favor. I think we can definitely make some adjustments. They are a great three point shooting team. I think they shot about 47-48% from the field and we can’t allow that to happen.”

(On Phoenix’s 21 3-pointers in three quarters:) “It goes against some of our principals of help-side defense because they are such great three point shooters. They just kept rotating the ball to the open shooter.”

(On not taking advantage of Taurasi’s absence on the floor:) “Well I wouldn’t necessarily say that. I think when she was off the floor we cut the lead to three or five and it had been up to eleven. When she is off the floor they just bring Penny Taylor in and her game is just like Taurasi’s. Cappie was doing her thing as well. I just think the big adjustment to be made is to rotate out on their three point shots. We can’t trade threes for two’s and then not get back on transition either.”

(On not playing on home floor:) “We knew coming out that we were going to play three away games. We can’t make excuses now. We had our fans in the stands. We lost the game. We can’t make excuses now. It was a close game but we lost. They played on the same floor we did.”

(On Phoenix’s constant resilience to come back with runs:) “In keeping with the theme of this year, we always do things the hard way. Losing this game makes it harder, but not impossible. I think whenever we would cut the lead down to two or three we would make an ill-advised turnover or take a quick three point shot or we would not sprint back in transition and give up an easy layup. The game is right there. It’s not like they blew us out and I think the score is misleading. We are just going to have to make adjustments. Phoenix is a great team and we allowed them to play their game today.”

(On Phoenix’s dominant offense:) “It goes against all of our principals. You rotate. You help the helper. Against Phoenix you can’t do that. You can’t help as much. You really have to play one-on-one defense. You have to really buckle down and keep your man in front of you because if you get beat everyone else will make shots.”

(On Michael Cooper’s optimism:) “Obviously we are mad that we lost. I have a twenty-four hour rule. It’s going to have to be cut short because of the playoffs. When I go to sleep tonight I am going to be thinking about it but when I wake up I am going to have a new attitude. Like I said, our team always does things the hard way so this loss really doesn’t surprise me. We still believe we can go take care of business in Phoenix and send Lisa out with a ring.”

Head Coach Corey Gaines:

(Overall:) “I know the next game is going to be a battle. I think we came in and did a good job. I told our players that this is our chance to get them right now and Diana and Cappie and Penny really led the way. Tangela also hit some big threes for us and it was a team effort. We got outrebounded but we still fought for it.”

(On the Sparks defensive strategies:) “I think they put a lot of length on Diana. So at times it was hard for her to score points.”

(On keeping their tempo throughout the game:) “We get outrebounded a lot but it’s the type of rebounds that we do get. We get rebounds that allow us to get out on the break and get easy shots. Then they come down and pound it in on us and we switched our defense to go a rover zone or man to man so they have to take time. Then they have to rush because the shot clock is running down and that’s the philosophy.”

(What adjustments do you think the Sparks will make?) “I think they will probably try to get different post ups and different looks. They’ll probably throw some backpicks in there but my plan against that will just be to go rover even more. Do some switching. Tina is an excellent shooter and we kind of pushed her out further and further and she kept shooting and hitting from further and further. “

Diana Taurasi #3:

(Opening statements:) “It’s good to be home. Good to be home. I thought it was a tough-earned win for us. It didn’t come easy. There were stretches in the game where they imposed their will on us, and we didn’t have answers. Toward the end, we did a couple good things and came out on top and that’s probably the only positive that we take.”

(Talk about the Sparks’ valiant effort despite the loss tonight:) “Every time we made a run, they came back with their own run. Candace and Tina were unbelievable tonight, hit every huge shot, and put us back on our heels. When that happens, you have to respond as a team and today we got a lot of contributions and a lot of big shots from a lot of people.”

(What will it take to win one of the next two games at home to close out the series?) “I don’t know if we’re going to be able to win one game [at home].”

(How weird was it for you to be playing this game in Pauley Pavilion instead of STAPLES Center?) “It’s Britney baby! Britney’s in town, scoot on over! I’ve come to Pauley since I was probably 12 years old, and it came down to Connecticut and UCLA when I was being recruited so I was very close to being a Bruin, but it was my first official game in Pauley. You come in and see the banners, and it’s a very special place. It’s the Garden of the West Coast. To come in here and play and get a win, it’s a very special feeling.”

(Is this series over yet?) “Any team has a chance. That’s why we play the games. We’re going to look back on some things they did, and find some options and advantages and take advantage of it. They’re veterans and they have four Hall of Famers on that team. They’re not just going to come into Phoenix and sunbathe; they’re going to try to win two games.”

(What are you going to do between now and Game 2 to prepare?) “The one thing about our team that we tried to stay on the same page on is treated every single game the same, whether it was the first game of the season, the fifteenth game, or the elimination game against San Antonio. If you start preparing differently for different games, you’ll have different outcomes. We’re not worrying about anything other than practice tomorrow and our game on Friday and the rest kind of takes care of itself.”

Your place for official WNBA merchandise. Support your favorite players and teams throughout the
2009 WNBA Playoffs.