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May 24, 2016

Billy Donovan

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma: Game Four

Game 4

Oklahoma City 118 - Golden State 94

BILLY DONOVAN: You know, a hard-fought game by both teams. You know, there were some runs that went back and forth in the first half, and I thought we closed the first half out very well. You know, you know they're too good of a team that they're going to make a run. I was kind of proud of the way the guys just kind of hung in there through some of it. We had some ups and downs and we kept battling and fighting.

I thought we defended as hard as we could for 48 minutes. [Klay]Thompson there in the third quarter got going and made some tough shots. But overall, I thought we kept battling and fighting, and we weathered some storms and manufactured some offense and got some stops and got out on the break. So overall, I thought our guys did a really good job tonight.

Q. Coach, when you've played small before in these playoffs, especially in the San Antonio series, it didn't really work. Same thing first two games. What made you think going into Game 3 that that would work, and it was something you guys should emphasize?
BILLY DONOVAN: One of the things, it's not necessarily about what is or is not going to work. It's more about you've got to put things out there sometimes based on teams. You've got to be willing, I think, to take some risks and do that. I've said this before, you start looking at numbers all the time from the year, and it's already two games and it's against a lot of teams. Sometimes you have to look and evaluate what's going on inside the series you're playing against, and why were the numbers bad? And with adjustments, could we make those numbers better? And our guys have done a good job where we've been able to move around and be pretty versatile with our roster in play, guys in different roles and different positions, and I think that's a strength of our team.

Q. Coach, can you talk about or describe the mentality and attitude Russell Westbrook has been playing with in these playoffs? What's been the overwhelming factor that you've seen him play with?
BILLY DONOVAN: Russell just plays with incredible passion. He's got such great force and great will, and he's also really, really a high-basketball-IQ player. He sees a lot of things going on out there. Just his effort and his energy throughout the course of the entire game, even with our team, is terrific. As a coach, you sit there and you have great respect and admiration for somebody that plays that hard and gives to the game and to his teammates what he gives.

Q. You guys along with those small lineups have done a particularly good job pushing the ball as well. Is that something that's a mentality that's hard to -- Steven Adams said it's hard to stay locked in for 48 minutes straight. Is that something that's tough to stay locked in for those 48 minutes? If so, how do you keep that up in a Western Conference Finals type atmosphere?
BILLY DONOVAN: I think what happens is you have to build up stamina for that, and you have to have stamina to be able to concentrate and focus and physically do what these guys do. The way they're laying there, their bodies on the line, the whole team, the way they're physically competing -- Golden State's a hard team to guard. They're very, very good. They obviously give you a lot of cutting, moving and passing. Same thing with San Antonio. Our guys continue, I think, as time goes on to try to get a little better and little better defensively. But they're giving great effort, the entire team, in terms of trying to concentrate and focus on the things within the game plan.

To Steven's point, that's hard to do, especially when fatigue sets in and then you're having to play offense. There is a lot going on to maintain that level of concentration.

Q. You lost the first game to the Spurs by whatever, 32 points or so. What have you done? Does it surprise you, Coach, that you've been able to -- you're on the brink now of doing something really special in back-to-back series. Are you surprised coming off of that start?
BILLY DONOVAN: I think it's more of a reflection on the guys in the locker room, to be honest with you. I think it has a lot to do with Russell and Kevin's confidence. I think that trickles down into our team. They are able to put things in great perspective coming off of setbacks. And the one thing about the both of them is that when there is a setback, their ability to bounce back. They don't wallow in it. They don't have pity parties. They come back and go to work and try to inject who they are into our team. I think it really helps our team come back and concentrate and try to get better and improve off of maybe a setback.

So we're playing against really good teams. You're not going to always have a perfect game and you're not going to play perfectly. You've got to have some resiliency and some toughness and some fight to you. I think our team has it. So it really has a lot more to do with the guys in the locker room and the character of the locker room, and the kind of guys that are in the locker room.

Q. Billy, you found a hole in defense with Andre Roberson offensively for you. It seems to have widened. An adjustment hasn't been made or you're going to him more often or he's becoming more entrenched in this offensive scheme you have against Golden State. Would you talk about why that's taking place and what you've seen to allow that to take place?
BILLY DONOVAN: Well, it's funny. Like after Game 2 people are saying to me, is this guy going to even play anymore? Andre's a good basketball player, and I think sometimes the things that go missing with him is he makes winning plays and he's a winning player. There's a lot of things he can do. He offensive rebounds. He slashes to the basket. I have confidence in him shooting the basketball. He's a great worker.

I think Kevin and Nick [Collison] and Serge, and Russell do a great job giving him confidence. But there are some things that we can do with him where we can put him in different roles and in different situations and put him in different screening actions and different cutting actions where he can be effective and he can be useful.

I'm just happy for him because he's really put the time in. He missed some free throws today, but he'll be the first guy in the gym tomorrow working on that. But he generated a lot of offense for us, to your point, on rolls to the basket, on back cuts, offensive rebounds on just being a winning player. And I'm happy for him. Andre's a great teammate. He's an unselfish guy, and he's a guy that's trying to make winning plays as best he can.

Q. This is now two straight games you guys have scored 72 points in the first half. Hasn't been done since 1987 in the postseason. Any maybe recipe for these hot starts that you guys have gotten out to and why you've been able to keep your offense varied?
BILLY DONOVAN: The only thing that I try to -- and I said this about our team and in particular Russell and Kevin, they're willing passers and they're willing to move and share the basketball. When we can play downhill and we can extra pass it, and we can move it from side to side, we become efficient because we can offensive rebound. We've got good shooting. The attention that Russell and Kevin get while they're being willing passers, they generate offense for other guys inside of our team.

I think it's just a matter of those guys just really playing the right way, how they play. Again, Russell and Kevin in particular, they're such terrific offensive players, but I think sometimes the thing that gets lost on both of them, in my opinion, is how unselfish they are and how willing they are. There's times they're going to go in there and try to create and take a shot and do things, and they should. But more often than not, they're looking to make the right play. Two guys at that level they are at offensively, it's a joy for me to be around guys like that every day to see them share the ball the way they try to.

Q. It's the second straight game where Steph Curry simply has not looked like himself. What has your defense done so effectively to neutralize him?
BILLY DONOVAN: I've said this before. Perfect example, I got asked that after Game 3 about Klay Thompson and Steph, and you saw what Klay did in that third quarter. He made some unbelievable shots, shots that were contested. I thought in Game 3 he missed some shots that were better looks than he had tonight.

Listen, the people around the league have seen these two guys shoot the ball at an incredible rate. We're working as hard as we can to try to contest and make it difficult as best we can, but we also know that these guys are two great, tough shot makers.

You can play really good defense against them, and they still may make the shot. So I don't want to sit there and say we're doing this unbelievable defensive job, because at the same time, those guys are so good shooting and so good offensively that at any moment they can make and go on a run like a guy like Klay did in the third quarter.

Q. Draymond Green had a rough night from the start, a lot of careless turnovers, didn't get much done. Your guys seemed to handle the emotions of the last two days fairly well. Were you worried about that? Did you take any steps to try to make sure nothing would happen? How did you see all that play out?
BILLY DONOVAN: Well, one is I think we've got a good group of guys in the locker room, and I appreciate as a coach them staying focused on what we can control. I think all of the guys on the team knew that coming out of Game 3 with those events that those decisions had nothing to do with us. Those were league decisions and we needed to focus and concentrate on what we could control. I felt like in shootaround and in practice yesterday, shootaround today, our guys were pretty focused on the things that we needed to try to improve and get better at.

Q. The way Russ plays, you mention that speed and getting downhill. The impact of that really seems like the ball movement and the offensive flow, has he found something that he's been able to exploit and really elevate the offense even more for you guys?
BILLY DONOVAN: Yeah, I mean, again, his speed, his quickness, his athleticism, he's explosive going to the basket. I thought he made a couple of great passes early in the third quarter, and we had some plays around the basket we didn't finish, but he really made the right read. Again, I think in transition, getting out and finding people when he can't get to the rim himself, the second and third effort to offensive and defensive rebound. Plus to absorb the amount of minutes he's absorbed and to put his body on the line like he does, you know, I have great -- listen, I played the game, but not at that level. I know how physically demanding and taxing that is to do what he does under the minutes that he does. The same thing with Kevin. Those guys are obviously being game-planned against, and they're having to play defense, and they're having to generate shots and they're having to create. I think the physical stamina, concentration, and ability of not only Russell but Kevin to night after night play and try to play at that incredible level is really, really remarkable. You're never going to, with either one of those two guys, ever say anything about their effort because their effort's always phenomenal.

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