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June 7, 2004

Shaquille O'Neal


Q. They didn't start throwing the double team at you hard until early in the third quarter, it did seem to take you out of it for a little while, do you think they might come strong with that immediately the next time through?

SHAQUILLE O'NEAL: We don't know what they are going to do, but I think we're able to adjust at whatever type of defense they throw. You know, we've had many defenses thrown at us over the past nine months, over the past couple of years, so we should be able to adjust to anything.

Q. Some people say that you guys need to suffer a loss to wake you up, to get your attention, do you agree with that, and if that's the case or whatever, has this game gotten your attention in terms of going on the rest of the way?

SHAQUILLE O'NEAL: I think it has gotten our attention. We realize that this team is not going to lay down because the Lakers are in the building. We really have to go out and play. It's not anything they did to throw us out of our game. I just think it's more us. We've just got to keep everybody involved and we've just got to want it.

Q. They throw a lot of single coverage at you, how radical was that to see because usually you're double -, triple-teamed and stuff like that?

SHAQUILLE O'NEAL: If anybody is used to different type of defenses, it's me. They are not going to double me in my area and I'm just going to try to go for what I know. That's what I try to do. In the third quarter when they threw the double at me I just tried to keep my guys involved. We were not able to hit the outside shot. Whatever defense they throw at me, I'll be ready. But it was nice to have some one-on-one coverage for a change.

Q. How are Karl and Gary doing today? Obviously a tough Finals return for them. Did you have to talk to them to keep them up a bit?

SHAQUILLE O'NEAL: I really didn't talk to them, but, they are professionals and they know what we have to do tomorrow. They know we let one slip away and now we just have to get one back. And we've been in this situation before. So, it's nothing to get weird about.

Q. Being in this situation before against Philadelphia, is that something that gives you confidence that you can shake off the first one or was that a completely different situation because they were so injured and so down that you cannot look back at that and use that as a basis for confidence?

SHAQUILLE O'NEAL: I think it gives us a lot of confidence, but I think we beat ourselves. We beat ourselves.

Q. Could you expound on what you mean by you guys beat yourselves?

SHAQUILLE O'NEAL: You know, we just didn't come out with the killer instinct. We didn't have a sense of urgency, way too many turnovers and didn't shoot the ball well. If we knock out all of those things or just one or two of those things, you know, we could have won that game. We still had a lot of chances to win. But they just did everything right.

Q. How much do you think the five days off helped you? It seemed like the rest of the team was a little bit lethargic but how much did the days off help yourself?

SHAQUILLE O'NEAL: I like having rest. I like having rest, and I know what I wanted to do when I came into this series. But we are not going to use that as an excuse. We know what we have to do as players and we've just got to go out and get it done. Last night, we didn't get it done but I don't think it's anything they did. It's more about us. It's been more about us all year. We know what we have to do, we just have to go out and do it.

Q. It seemed like there were a couple of times when you had a shot, you had an opportunity to get in the lane and shoot and you dished off to Karl, were you actively trying to get him involved, trying to set some guys up like that?

SHAQUILLE O'NEAL: Of course I was. That's what I was trying to do. They weren't playing double coverage, so if I got the ball in the paint, I was going to go for what I know. But a couple of times I went up and they brought Mr. Wallace from the back to block my shot. I just dished it off to Karl. That's kind of what happened in the third quarter. They were coming out of bounds or coming on the double and I was just kicking it out to other guys.

Q. Did you talk to Karl after the game last night? He was really distraught and took a lot of blame on himself, I just wonder if you said anything to him.

SHAQUILLE O'NEAL: I really didn't say anything to him, because I know what type of guy he is, I know he's going to come out in this game and give it all he's got and play a little bit harder. We know what we have to do as a team and we just have to go out and do it. It's no time to be, "you need to do this, you need to do that." We know what we have to do. I know I have to get up in the morning and put my underwear on first and put my pants on first. I don't need people to tell me that. (Laughter) Thongs. (Laughter).

Q. It seems like the West Coast teams all season long have been much stronger than the East Coast, yet in this first game, it didn't look that way.

SHAQUILLE O'NEAL: Obviously we were a little bit too lackadaisical, too cool, and we were just trying to feel this team out in the first half. But we just got to play better defense, take care of the ball and shoot the ball well ourselves. If we do that, then we'll be fine.

End of FastScripts...

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