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June 15, 2006

Pat Riley


Q. Even after the win in Game 3, half your players said, "We haven't played a good game yet." Half of them said, "We haven't played a complete game yet." Was this close in your estimation to either your best or a complete game?
PAT RILEY: We played very well. We didn't turn it over in the first half, and I think that's where you start with your offensive efficiency. We shot the ball well.
I think we're getting a little bit of a handle on their plan for Shaquille, and, you know, what they are doing. Our spacing is getting better. You know, but Dwyane had just an incredible first half. We played well. I thought it was, you know, it was our best game, there's no doubt, of this series. And we got a little ragged at the end of the third quarter, beginning of the fourth, before we were able to get it back under control.

Q. Can you talk about the lift you got from your second unit tonight?
PAT RILEY: Bench was big. I thought Shannon did a great job, not playing -- I told both he and Derek the other day, the fatigue was beginning to show on Dwyane and some of our perimeter players, so just to be ready. And Pose did a great job making big shots and defending; Zo.
Yeah, it's not a supporting cast. I don't look at it that way. They are all pros. They have been around, and they know what to do. We got great lift from them.

Q. You mentioned before about handling the double teams. Was the key tonight both player movement and ball movement; it seemed like you attacked it more aggressively, as a team, as a unit tonight?
PAT RILEY: We spent a lot of time on it the last couple of days, walking through the spacing over and over and over on our sets. We haven't seen it -- we didn't see it throughout any of the series we played in the six or eight weeks. Occasionally there was some double teams. They did a great job of coming with Dirk at seven feet, and we wanted to try to remove that obstacle a a little bit so. We moved some of the players around.
The spacing was good. We weren't cutting as much. But still, that, being better; Dwyane sort of took care of the other half, you know, when we weren't playing well out of the post.

Q. What was Shaquille doing in that situation, too, to be particularly effective?
PAT RILEY: He's a passer. You know, he just sees it. He baits it. Like Shandon made some great baseline cuts. He's so smart, he's been playing with Karl Malone for so long; he knows how to cut. He made one cut that came to what we call the strong side of the double team and threw the lob to Shaquille in the first half.
You know, Shaq just says, come on. He will say, come on. If we're making shots and making good cuts, then that will be a challenge for them, to keep doubling him.

Q. What did you think of the Stackhouse foul on him?
PAT RILEY: It was a hard foul, absolutely. So I just, you know, I just remember so many things going on, I don't know why I was running out there. He asked me, he said, why did you "come running out there, you thought I was going to go after him?"
I said, no, I don't know why I did it, I just did it. (Laughter) I've been there too many times with those things.

Q. If you could talk about the job you guys were able to do against Dirk defensively, what you had hoped to accomplish coming in, and what you guys did accomplish against him.
PAT RILEY: They had eight points in the first, I think four or five minutes, just driving the ball. Their game plan was to attack, isolate him at the high post, and he was just putting his head down. We couldn't get a read on which way to push him as they were making cutters.
I think we got a better handle on it, guys starting coming early to help. It's a commitment on the part of the individual to work, work him, and it's a commitment on the part of the team to be in the paint if he ever drops his shoulder and turns a corner.

Q. How did you hold Dallas to seven points in the last quarter, what was the key?
PAT RILEY: I don't know. Defensively. They are a great shooting team. I don't know, what, 2-for-17, somebody told me, or whatever it was. They just missed a lot of shots.
I know our defense was very active tonight. It was very active tonight. We did not want to give them free throws and did not want to give them layups and jumpers. So somewhere you've sort of got to pick your poison, and as good a shooting team as they are, that's what we're going to close out on, is we're going to close out on jumpshots.

Q. You made reference to Dwyane's excellent first half. In the first quarter when O'Neal went out with two fouls, I think Dwyane had several shots in a sequence of four or five minutes; was that him just taking over the game, or did you go specifically to him during that time?
PAT RILEY: He made a point the other night -- you know we talk about this, the number 50, the number of times he gets touches. He actually had 49 the other night in the win. I'm sure tonight he probably had a lot less to be honest with you.
You know, once Shaquille went out, we were going to put him in a situation with pick-and-rolls where he can make plays and keep the ball in his hands. It isn't any one thing that I call, but there's a series of things that we run when he's dribbling down the left side of the court that either you get into a high pick-and-roll or side pick-and-roll. But he pretty much controls that situation.

Q. Stackhouse's foul should have been a flagrant two, and will you guys ask the NBA to take another look at it, perhaps reclassify it?
PAT RILEY: I thought it was a hard foul. I can't remember, I think James Posey got a flagrant two somewhere, or was it one, Chicago, I can't remember. It was a hard foul. It was the same kind of thing.
I think Shaq is so big, it's pretty hard to knock him down like that. So I'm going to leave it the way it is.

Q. Shaq and Zo seemed to contest stuff at the rim a lot more tonight than the previous games. Was that a point of emphasis for you guys?
PAT RILEY: That's instinct on Zo's part. You know, he made three or four big blocks for us in the first half. And if they do get by, you know, the first line of defense, and he's coming early we've just got to make sure that we're sinking to Dampier and Diop on the boards. Yeah, that was a lot of contesting tonight at the rim. We need that against this team. We cannot give them layups and jumpers and free throws. We have to take something away.

Q. Did your guys just want it more tonight, do you think, than they did?
PAT RILEY: It was a big game for us today. You know, I mean, I think when you get to this time, it's 55 days now, that we've been at this, as has Dallas. There could be as many as eight more days, or less.
I think once you start to see the possibilities, we're both at 14 wins, we're both two wins away, I think it becomes as much will as it is execution, yeah.

Q. With them double-teaming Shaquille through the series, did you think those opportunities were there for Dwyane?
PAT RILEY: Always. I mean, they are going to start breaking the defense down and rotating. They leave him open, too, and they rotate him off the shooters and stuff. He's getting looks on the weak side where he can drive, you know, drive the basketball.
We did not handle it well in Dallas. We just didn't play well in Dallas. We played, I thought very well the other day, until we got that third quarter, you know, that was bad. And then today, we played our best game.
So we need to have our best game on Sunday.

End of FastScripts...

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