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July 10, 2021

Brook Lopez

Milwaukee Bucks

Practice Day

Q. You're totally dependent on being fed the ball. You're not going to bring up the ball. How many touches do you need to get, not shots, but touches, to feel like you're starting to get in a rhythm like in the first quarter, and if touches isn't the right measurement, please correct me and tell me, just to feel like you're involved.

BROOK LOPEZ: No, no, that's a great question. You know, honestly it's less, I guess, finding touches, just through a play or something like that. It's more finding natural ways to do it. That's something I can definitely do myself. Because obviously there's -- I mean, it's just with every team. There's just not that much ball to go around, and we have a lot of very talented players.

And so it's something that I have to do more of, being more aggressive on the offensive boards, making cuts, making myself available in kind of organic situations I think.

Q. Are you ever demanding with a sense of urgency, whether it's during play or halftime or the practice leading up when you know the plan? Would you ever be assertive and speak up for yourself and say, "I've got a great matchup here," whatever it is, "I'm feeling good, give me the bleeping ball."

BROOK LOPEZ: Yeah, it's something I've talked to the coach about before or Bud or Darv [Darvin Ham] or Vin [Baker] or someone I work with, as well. If I feel there’s something, I'll definitely, you know, voice my opinion. I'm comfortable enough to do that.

Q. I'm not sure fun is the right word. The Suns are an interesting defensive puzzle, because you have Paul and Booker, who kick it out, or Bridges attacks a close out or Ayton rolls it. There's multiple levels to the problem. What has been the defensive challenge and how do you approach it?

BROOK LOPEZ: Yeah, it's definitely been intriguing, and it's tough. That's why they teach basketball, good basketball, the way they do, about sharing the ball, moving the ball, playing together because that stuff's true, obviously, and they have talented players at every position who really buy into that and it makes it difficult.

It obviously just takes being on the same page, communicating. Those are two things off the top, which I know I just kind of listed off, good offensive and good offensive traits that are well known, but it's true.

Q. With the way they move the ball and the way that Chris Paul controls the game, could it make your impact defensively feel neutered in any way? Like, you keep making the right play because they pass around or drive around you?

BROOK LOPEZ: I've been kind of thinking about this. It's just about making adjustments. We're all kind of, you know, both teams, I guess in basketball, you're trying to create a box to control one team and keep a team in the box, and then they are getting out of it and vice versa. It's kind of what you see happening in real time.

We keep trying to create a box to control one player, and you know, CP is obviously such a smart player. He's like having a coach out there. He's very good at making reads. You see him in control, just kind of dribbling, calling players up, calling guys, really coaching from the floor. So, we have to be our best in being active in communicating with one another.

Q. I feel like in the three years that I've covered you, your teammates have said that you should be an All-Star and you're not an All-Star; you should be Defensive Player of the Year. You get mentions but Giannis gets it. I think it was even between you and Khris, if the Tokyo Olympics had been last year, I think you were up for that as well. I know you're a humble guy and you've always said in the past, if the team succeeds, that's good for you. But does this kind of -- do you check those boxes, like for motivation? Do you sweep them away and disregard outside opinion? Only the organization's opinion? How have you dealt with some of that, quote, unquote, under-appreciation status?

BROOK LOPEZ: I definitely use that stuff for motivation. I absolutely do. There's stuff I've told you, as well, rings true, and it's stuff I believe as well. It's definitely both.

Q. Just wondering, you guys went through this before in the second round against Brooklyn. Those games were more lopsided and you were able to come back. Do you draw on that experience now or is it just two totally different things? Do you get confidence from that or is it just a separate thing?

BROOK LOPEZ: You definitely draw from that experience. You know, I think we've been really good at just looking at film, reviewing what happened, and going back and implementing changes and making adjustments.

So, Coach mentioned, and I agree, he thought we played pretty well in Game 2. Phoenix was amazing and great. But we definitely got better and improved in Game 2, so I think we're going to see more of that in Game 3.

Q. So during the Nets series, Kevin would score 45 points or whatever and we would all talk about, he's a maestro and able to do all of this in a losing effort and it was a big deal that he did this. Giannis put up 42 the other night and we don't have those same conversations. Curious for you, I guess I'm probably guilty of it, too, because I've covered him for so long, but do we take it for granted what he can do? I think it was like 42 on 22 shots. Do we do that? Do you feel like we do that?

BROOK LOPEZ: Yeah, it's tough because it's kind of human nature when someone is so great, so routinely, I don't even really want to use the word routine, because when you use the word routine, it’s got a somewhat negative connotation, as well.

I mean, he's so inhuman for us so often. I understand how you can see that. But we obviously clearly don't take him for granted. We need Giannis to be Giannis, and more so each and every game in the series.

Q. I just asked him about it. It feels like since the Nets series, he's got a lot more comfortable with, hey, I'm going to get to my spot; hook shot, bump, fade, there it is. What have you seen from him? It's a shot that, you guys take them differently, but you do those same things and you get to your spot and get the hook shot. What have you seen from him?

BROOK LOPEZ: Yeah, you know, we're seeing his continued growth. You know, it's just I think it's a matter of something that we've seen him do a million times, at basket one in the practice facility, and him finding that same rhythm and that same comfort just in-game.

Q. You've been with this team for three years now. What do you think made the difference this year?

BROOK LOPEZ: It's kind of just the situation we're in right now where we've been resilient. We've had setbacks. We've had setbacks. We've had times when we've failed and we've been able to come back from these moments, learn from them and then succeed.

Q. You guys finished with 225 passes made last game, 43 passes less than the Suns. Do you think the team should rotate the ball more to move Phoenix’s defense and get better shots?

BROOK LOPEZ: Yeah, I definitely agree with you. You know, if you look at Game 1 and Game 2, Phoenix definitely made us work defensively, and that's something we need to do to them, as well. They made us work and we didn't really make them work as much defensively as they did.

Q. Going back to Giannis, after Game 1, he had said when he first got hurt he thought it was a year; this would be that type of process. From a teammate's perspective, what were you thinking when you first saw the injury and when did you realize there was a realistic possibility you could get him back this soon?

BROOK LOPEZ: You know, I didn't see -- I was part of the actual play and I kind of turned once it happened. So, I didn't see the ensuing action. I know it was a rough watch.

Honestly, I didn't really have any expectation. I don't really watch ESPN or read media or pay any attention or have any viewpoint other than what they kind of gave us.

You know, I heard all the talk from our guys, and I guess I didn't really have like a fully formed picture in my mind honestly. It was kind of day-to-day, hoping to hear word on Giannis and everything like that.

And just at the same time, we had our series to play, so we were just focused on taking care of business on-court, as well. It was a matter of hoping for the best for Giannis while trying to do what we could.

Q. At the end of the first half they had a possession where it was 12 passes where it just went all the way around and all the way back. In the middle of that, Khris got a tip, you guys recovered well enough and I know you weren't on the floor at that time, but like, it speaks to how well they are moving the ball, but it also speaks to how well you guys can rotate. Is that something you guys can use mentally yourselves, like, they can move the ball, but we got this?

BROOK LOPEZ: Yeah, absolutely. Watching it, they move the ball well, but they had to work. They had to move the ball as well as they possibly could. And they ended up getting that Ayton one, but it was difficult and it wasn't easy for them. That's how we have to be. We have to make everything as difficult as possible for them.

Q. Do you do anything special to work on being sure-handed? I think of the pass that was behind from you Jrue in the Atlanta series. Football players, they work with the Jugs machines and balls being blasted at them and you have a wide area. Is that natural from practice and you have a big wingspan or do you actually do specific drills or strength things that help you

BROOK LOPEZ: I think it's all from repetition in practice. When we're working on my floaters with Darvin [Ham] or Ben [Sullivan], catching with one hand and finishing, not bringing the other hand to control it. Just catching one hand, going up, finishing. Catching one hand, finishing. I think that does everything.

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