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May 31, 2005

Larry Brown


COACH LARRY BROWN: I figured since there was a lockout and there weren't any openings, I would wear this shirt (Detroit Red Wings jersey).

Q. Can you explain the move you made putting Hamilton as the main defender on Wade rather than Prince in this game?

COACH LARRY BROWN: We just wanted to change up. We didn't know if we were going to go the whole game -- and you know, we were thinking about whether foul trouble would dictate who would play him. You know, Lindsey played him for about 15 minutes, as well. But the kid is a great player. You know, you can't give him the same look. At the end, he almost brought them back by himself.

Q. Two things: 17 assists, no turnovers, have you ever seen that in a game, in the first half? And can you talk about overall the difference, the other night you lost your poise and you talked about that and tonight obviously wasn't an issue. Talk about the difference tonight and the other night, and keeping your poise.

COACH LARRY BROWN: Well, you know, we've had a couple of games this year, really where we've had very few turnovers. I think this is the second game this year that I can remember we had zero. We went through a period of time where we had an awful lot of assists. I think when we play our best is when we share the ball and it goes from side to side. I just looked at the stat sheet briefly, but we had five guys take double-figure shots, and that's always a good thing. Game 2 and Game 3, I thought we lost our poise. We let a lot of things affect us. And then I think to their credit, they executed great. All three games with five or six minutes to go, the score has been tied. Game 1, we got it done by good execution. Game 2 and Game 3, they were far superior to us. Tonight we just -- I thought we took care of the ball the whole game and that was the key. We didn't give them any run-outs. You know, Ben might have struggled shooting the ball but he was phenomenal on the boards. I think we got many more second-chance points, which always helps your shooting percentage, and we got, I think, more fast break situations which, you know, I think really helps us.

Q. Talk a little about the job Elden did tonight, not only for your team but his impact on Shaquille O'Neal.

COACH LARRY BROWN: I think everybody is aware of the contributions he made in the locker room, which is equally as important. But Joe (Dumars) felt all along that if we were fortunate to get this far and had to play Miami, we needed a post defender, and somebody who is a skilled offensive player, as well, because you need multiple fouls if you're going to have any success against them. Even though we don't try to hack-a-Shaq and never done that, it seems to me, it just gets us in foul trouble, but we need Elden. You look tonight, Rasheed had two fouls, played 20 minutes and fouled out. Dyess had three fouls in about five minutes. Ben got in foul trouble. So it was vital we had him.

Q. With two minutes to go in the first half, and all of your big men in foul trouble, you sent Darvin Ham in to play center, which obviously you overlooked Darko. Is your confidence in him so low that you could not send him in for two minutes?

COACH LARRY BROWN: That's not fair for Darko in a situation like that. He hasn't played in two years. This is the NBA, you know, Eastern Conference Finals. It's not fair to him. I'm not going to put him in a matchup that's not in his best interests. I don't have an owner that's asked me to play him. I don't have a GM that's asked me to play him. It has nothing to do with confidence. When he's ready to play, he will play. We won a championship without playing him and he got better. We're in the Finals without playing him and he's getting better. He's 19 years old. Maybe in baseball, I always see that, they want to bring rookies in early in crucial situations to kill their confidence. Maybe look at it that way.

Q. Now that the series is tied up at two games apiece, talk about the mindset of this team going into a pivotal Game 5 in Miami.

COACH LARRY BROWN: Well, we're in much better shape than we were after the other night. It's a three-game series with them, home-court advantage. I think we all felt that this would be a great series, and hopefully that's the case. But we won down there, we had a chance to win both games down there, but there's no doubt in my mind, we're going to have to play our best game. We've got to figure out a way to win one game on the road, and then take care of our home court. That's the only way I can look at it. I think we all feel a lot better than we felt after the other night.

Q. Just talk about the start of the fourth quarter. It seems you really turned up the defense a notch.

COACH LARRY BROWN: Well, I thought for the most part, our defense was outstanding the whole game. You know, I think they cut it to five in the third, we had possession. Just before the end of the third, I thought we picked it up and got some easy baskets, which gave us a little life. Then Ben was amazing, you know, I thought down the stretch, he limited them to one shot until the last couple of minutes, and it was all over the board. I think against them, if you can limit them to a shot and not get them in a position where you're not helping all the time, you've got a chance to defend them.

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