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June 7, 2004

Larry Brown


Q. Shaquille O'Neal was in here saying that, "We beat ourselves," that it was more about what the Lakers didn't do last night rather than anything you guys did on offense or defense. Is that a fair assessment?

COACH LARRY BROWN: If he says so. (Laughter). I mean, I've watched them play, I don't think it was a typical Laker game. You know, I don't know how many times in Payton's career or Karl Malone's career they are going to have a game like that, where they weren't really involved a lot. And I don't know how many times they are going to score 75 points at home in a playoff game. But I thought we played pretty good, personally. We shot 47 percent, we rebounded the ball effectively, we had four turnovers in the second half. We had a contribution from a lot of people, so, you know, in my eyes, we played pretty darn good, but I wouldn't dispute Shaq's assessment of the way their team played. That's not a typical Laker game.

Q. Can you just talk about your relationship with Chauncey and the process it took him to kind of get to know what you expected out of him in running the offense?

COACH LARRY BROWN: I've said it a lot, you know, for the last, I don't know how many years, when I was in San Antonio, we had Mo Cheeks for a little while and Rod Strickland and then I would go to Indiana and the Clippers, I had Mark Jackson, and then you go with Philly, with Eric Snow, you have true point guards, guys that thought about pass first and get everybody involved and get your team in sets. It was a change coaching Chauncey because he's a scoring guard. You know, I expect a lot from point guards in terms of getting everybody involved and being an extension of the coaching staff on the court. So, it's been an adjustment for him and an adjustment for me. You know, as a coach, you want to give your players a chance to do the best they can and put them in a situation where they will be successful, and so we've both been kind of learning. But like all of those guys I mentioned, he has great character and he cares about winning and playing the right way, and he's a major reason we're here right now.

Q. Everybody has been talking for years about how preeminent defense is, you once had a Denver team average 114 points. Is there a difference in how you teach the game and how you see other coaches teaching it now? What's happened in the game that it's changed so dramatically?

COACH LARRY BROWN: Well, I think skill levels of players have changed, to a large degree. You know, passing and catching and screening is not as good as it was before. I think getting so many younger players into our league, fundamentally, there's a huge difference. I think the clock has really impacted our game in terms of more bad shots are taken because of the 24-second clock. I think if we had a little bit more time, you'd see fewer bad shots, better ball movement in terms of a better game. Our rules have dictated a lot of the problems we are having. And then scouting has become better. I think in all sports now, defenses have improved, maybe not in baseball because with pitchers being watered down, but in a lot of ways, football, people are putting the best athletes. We have the best athletes and they have a tendency to be better defenders. But I think we've really got to make an effort to change our rules in my mind. And I also would wish that more kids would stay and be taught the right way to play before we get them. I don't know if that's possible. But when I was growing up, when you became a coach for the right reasons, you were given an opportunity to learn. Now, so many guys that are coaching in high school and college don't have the background that maybe guys had years ago. So kids suffer for that.

Q. Having said all that, were you at all surprised at the number of open shots that you guys seemed to be able to get last night?

COACH LARRY BROWN: You know, we've had -- I've been looking at these games, you're never as good as you think you are when you watch the film, and generally you're usually never as bad. But watching the films of our playoff games, we've had pretty good shots. I don't think we've made them for the most part. Last night, we made more shots of the variety that we've been seeing a lot. Because you look at it, neither team got out on the break much to get easy shots, so it's going to be difficult scoring in the halfcourt no matter who you play, but we made shots last night. You know, Tayshaun after the first series has struggled making open shots. Chauncey shot in the 30s, I think, with pretty good shots over the last three series. Rasheed only took four shots. We've been working on Ben picking and popping, so I expected that to happen. (Laughter). But I think last night, the reason we won is we made shots, which got our defense a chance to set up which maybe impacted the Lakers a little bit.

Q. Could you talk a little about your decision to have Corliss guarding Shaq in the fourth quarter and just what were you hoping to accomplish with that matchup and could you just talk about what Corliss has meant to this team, particularly in Game 1 the other night?

COACH LARRY BROWN: Well, we were just trying to buy some minutes with Rasheed because really, down the stretch I think Rasheed would probably have to guard Shaq. And then I wanted to give Ben a couple of minutes of rest and Elden's tank looked on empty when I took him out. So we were going to rest him a little bit, so I thought we could bide some time and then have Shaq guard Corliss a little bit and then maybe give Corliss an opportunity to penetrate. But it's not something that I thought we were going to do a lot of, but it just gave us some time and allowed Ben to rest and be fresh late and keep both Ben and Rasheed out of foul trouble late. And then, every time we play Corliss, it seems like people match up to stop him, and it gives us another scorer, which when you -- we don't have a lot of low-post threats, but when he gets on the low post, people tend to either front him or help on him, which opens up opportunities for other players, and that's been a huge factor for us. And then Tayshaun, you know, considering the tough match-ups he's had to play against, we need another 3 man and Corliss, I don't worry about him so much defensively, even playing against the better 3 guys.

Q. Give they have that low-post threat, is that why you opted to go with him, because Memo (Okur) was a little bit bigger, to guard Shaq?

COACH LARRY BROWN: No. I just felt that you just get a feel in the game, and Memo, I thought, if Shaq was going to go at him, maybe we would bring him back in and play him in pick-and-roll situations, because he's such a good outside shooter. I don't think as a post player against their big people, that would always be in our best interests, but the nice thing is you've got those options for us, which we really needed.

Q. Joe Dumars talked about the Pistons having players with an edge. Can you talk about the edge Rasheed Wallace has had and the impact he's had on the team and how well he meshed with this group?

COACH LARRY BROWN: Well, one, I don't think people have made enough out of the fact -- I kept this guy on the bench for 19 minutes. If you look at my career, I've always done that with players, except for one, that has gotten into foul trouble. (Laughter) And as long as we -- as long as we were close, I figured, you know, why put him in a position to pick up fouls where we didn't have them in the guts of the game and it's remarkable for me to see the type of person he is when he just does it. He cheers for his teammates. I don't know how many superstars would allow their coach to put them in that kind of position. We thought he would be a contributor, especially on the offensive end, because we don't have a whole bunch of options, but he was somebody we felt could stretch the defense, was a highly skilled offensive player. We also felt he would be a good defender but he's been a phenomenal defender and he's made everybody around him better because he's long, he can block shots, he can guard a lot of different people. He's so unselfish, and the biggest factor is aside from being a great teammate, we didn't have Memo and Tayshaun on the court at the same time. Two young kids that didn't play a lot in the past, and that puts a lot of pressure on those guys. Since we had Rasheed come in, Tayshaun's game has just gone off the charts. Taken so much pressure off him and made him so much more of a threat on both ends of the court.

Q. Earlier in the playoffs, when you spoke about so many people dropping off the Olympics, you talked about maybe just going with young players the next wave and you mentioned Dwayne Wade. Your thoughts on bringing a team to the Olympics on that and a guy like Dwayne, too raw, too young or is that maybe the way this whole thing is going?

COACH LARRY BROWN: One, the guys that aren't going, you know, helped us get there by qualifying in Puerto Rico. They made an unbelievable sacrifice. We played ten or 11 games in 12 days, so they gave up a lot, and I respect that. Every one of the guys that have dropped out has had their own particular reason, which has been a pretty valid one. My way of thinking is there's so many great players in our league and so many guys that want to play, I just look at it as maybe a missed opportunity for the guys that are dropping out but an unbelievable chance for the guys that want to play. The more young kids with enthusiasm that are going to be our future, in my mind, the better off we can be. And guys like Wade and Carmelo and LeBron and Stoudemire, you name them, all of these young kids coming into the league and some of the second- and third-year guys. If they want to play, that's great and it's Pop's job and my job to put them in a situation where they will be successful. I just think it's the greatest experience ever. But, I spoke to Kobe and I spoke to Karl and I know how much they want to be there, but it's just not going to work out. So let's bring the young kids in, if the committee accepts that, and give them an opportunity to show the world that we truly have the best players and can play the right way, and I'll be thrilled to be part of that.

End of FastScripts...

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