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February 19, 2006

Flip Saunders


COACH FLIP SAUNDERS: Well, I guess I can thank Charles (Barkley), he gave a great halftime talk for us, basically saying the game was over.
You know, I talked to the guys at halftime and basically said to them that I thought we were not as competitive, kind of feeling each other out, almost trying to maybe play too perfect, and just to relax, compete and put on a good show and I thought that the second half, they played exceptionally well, whoever played on the floor. I think in these type of games, a lot of times it takes time to get used to playing with guys, and once you go through 24 minutes, there are some things you learn, maybe when a guy is going to go to the basket and you learn when to shoot it and you can play better off them.
I thought in the third quarter we really turned it up and got it going. I thought that even with the four guys that were comfortable with what we were doing, started running some plays got some easy shots and got a little bit comfortable and were able to finish the game down the stretch.
LeBron was great, Shaq patrolled the middle, every guy did something in a very positive way. Ben Wallace was great defensively. I thought one of the key points he had three straight stops, two blocks on two different plays and really got our aggressiveness going.
Q. You had all of your guys out there with Paul Pierce, talk about why you had them all together. Was that because you knew them real well?
COACH FLIP SAUNDERS: I think that in these type of situations, sometimes you want to get -- if you can get some organization, I thought that these guys play together, they can get some organization. We went through some stuff with Paul and he seemed to pick things up and play pretty well off those guys and gave us another added dimension. I thought those guys helped finish that third quarter really good for us, started the fourth, got the lead, AI, and those guys were able to come in and finish it off.
Q. What were you looking for on your last possession where Allen took the shot?
COACH FLIP SAUNDERS: We were looking for Allen. We went 1-4 flat tying to get him, and we told Dwyane and LeBron, if he happened to pass it to you and cut through, be aggressive with the ball, if not, try to crash through the boards. I guess it was Dwyane that got the tip-in. Reminded me of a game two Sundays ago when we played Miami.
But he made a great, fantastic play off that.
Q. You've got 12 great players, but can you talk about coaching LeBron for a day?
COACH FLIP SAUNDERS: Yeah, it's funny, because LeBron does things so easy, and what I mean by that is he can get a jumpshot whenever he wants. He can get to the basket almost whenever he wants, and he just does things so easy that, you know, I mean when he decides -- like I thought in the fourth quarter he really decided, hey, I'm going to put pressure on the defense and he just took the ball and got very aggressive, and he makes it very easy for play-calling; give him the ball and give him some space in order to do some things.
What I was most impressed about all the guys, I thought our competitiveness in the second half, even in time-outs and LeBron, those guys coming down the stretch, talking about chasing guys off the three-point line, you could see that they were competing to win and they showed, what I call, a lot of high basketball IQ, by trying to help each other out in what to do to try to be successful down the stretch.
Q. Being in Houston, were you pretty sure they would go to Tracy for their last possession?
COACH FLIP SAUNDERS: I think a lot of us thought they were going to go to Kobe. Tracy had a phenomenal game but that was one of those you could pretty much go to anybody. A lot of people probably thought when we came down we were going to go to LeBron because he had scored. For us, we thought AI. He got a great shot, but he got fouled on it. He had a pretty good look.
But we were going to basically try to cover both and funnel it to our big guys in the paint, we had Sheed in there, we were going to try to switch off pick-and-rolls. Main thing we didn't want to do, we didn't want to give up the three. We thought with no time-outs left, we thought they would take a three and try to win it.
Q. Is it harder or easier to coach in an All-Star Game, and with four Piston players, it's great, but you have to take them out because it's an All-Star Game and you have so many options?
COACH FLIP SAUNDERS: That, and I was talking to Avery about it prior to, as a coach, you appreciate what these guys have done these first 50 games to get to the All-Star Game. You would like to play each guy 40 minutes and you can't. The toughest thing to do is to try to get playing time for guys.
As I said prior to the game, after coaching the L.A. game two years ago, what happens is you get to the fourth quarter and more than anything else, those guys want to win. The guys on the bench are basically saying, let's win this thing, and they are very much enthusiastic and into it.
I thought especially for our league, the fourth quarter was a great fourth quarter, for people that were here to watch it, for the fans to watch it on TV or listen to it on the radio. This was a very good performance and they saw a little bit about what NBA basketball is about with great plays by great players.

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