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May 25, 2006

Flip Saunders


Q. When did Tayshaun Prince officially become the go-to guy every time you need a basket?
FLIP SAUNDERS: He's been like that probably three weeks after the All-Star Break. He's been a guy that we've gone to. The thing with Tay, he has the ability to make good plays, make smart decisions. He doesn't force things, he is a guy that's long. He usually has a mismatch and makes good basketball decisions. Whether he's shooting the basketball, whether he's making the play for somebody else, whether he's getting the offensive rebounds, everyone knows that he's been a great defender. The one guy that didn't make the All-Star Team is the one guy that's definitely playing like an all-star, no question, since the break.
Q. Can you talk about what happened? They scored 17 points the final 1:46, a lot of uncharacteristic play turnovers.
FLIP SAUNDERS: It was like watching Miami the other night against us. What happens so many times, you get near the end of the game, you start playing not to lose instead of playing to win, so you get not aggressive, you don't make concentrated decisions, and you want -- you wait for that clock to keep on rolling for the game to end, so you lose some of your concepts that you wanted to stay with.
There's no question that we did not end the game how we would like to end the game, but I thought overall we have to look at it -- as I said prior to, when you're not playing very well, you don't all of a sudden play well. I thought we showed signs these last couple games in areas where we were a little bit better, and I thought we did some things better tonight overall, and we got a little bit better than we were the last game. Now we're going to have to make another jump because it's going to be extremely difficult, of course, down in Miami.
Q. Tayshaun talked about how Ben's energy early kind of drove the whole thing. Do you think Ben plays with more energy when he gets involved offensively early like he did tonight?
FLIP SAUNDERS: Yeah, I mean, he plays with energy. I think there's no question, though, that when he feels that he's more a part of it, he's going to be more energized. We used him more offensively and he helped us, got us off to a good start. We haven't used him lately, didn't make some of the same plays to get him the ball and stuff, but he still was involved and not standing on the weak side where they couldn't guard him. I think as I told our guys prior to the game, we needed to get back to having an equal opportunity offense, where it wasn't just geared towards one individual, and if people were open we had to pass them the ball and trust those guys to make decisions. Ben made good decisions, not only scoring-wise but he had some great passes, great back-door passes to Rip and did a great job.
Q. You went to your bench a little bit more early on than you normally do. Talk about the philosophy behind that and your thoughts on what you got from those guys?
FLIP SAUNDERS: I thought Delfino, he's played pretty well against Miami because he's got good size, good quickness, can put the ball on the floor, and we wanted to be in a situation where we could give Tay an early rest and bring him back and give him an opportunity at mismatches when we had him back on the floor. We went to him, used Dale Davis, would have liked to use Dyess a little more but didn't.
The bench didn't score a lot but they did a lot of other things. They kept us in there and kept us in the game and made overall pretty good basketball decisions, which I think is important. I think when you go to your bench, you want to make sure there's still atune to what you're trying to do. So there's no question they helped.
Q. Did you see those hockey passes you were talking about the other day?
FLIP SAUNDERS: Yeah, I thought we saw some. I thought we moved the ball a lot better. We made some two, three pass shots coming out of it. The first quarter we played extremely well offensively. Like I said, I think you start getting back and you start playing better. First of all, it comes in short stints and eventually it comes in longer stints. I thought we made good decisions. We got a little bit worn at the end. They scored a lot of points in a short period of time, and part of it was they got extremely aggressive and we got passive. I thought we were a little bit tired and got a little careless. I thought we were atune and knew where to attack, and the guys executed what we were trying to implement.
Q. They didn't get nearly as much production from their so-called role players tonight. Pat Riley said he thought that was more a case of them missing good looks than anything. Did you guys do something to try to take that away, would you agree with him?
FLIP SAUNDERS: I thought it was a combination. I thought they missed some open looks, but I also thought that we -- what happens sometimes, if you don't give the role players easy buckets, those open looks become a lot tougher to make. It's when they can get going off lay-ups, get going in transition that they get their adrenaline, get their confidence going and those shots become a lot easier to make. It's when you haven't made a shot in a while and the ball is passed around to you and the shot clock is winding down and you've got to make a shot, sometimes those are tougher shots to make. I think it was a combination. Basically we made an adjustment. We made a conscious effort to try to choke off some of their role-type players and the adjustment paid off.
Q. In the last five seconds, the only way you could get tied is if somebody tried a frantic 3 and got fouled, so what was your thought when you saw Lindsey going for the ball?
FLIP SAUNDERS: He was going as far as down low. I didn't think he was going to foul him, so I wasn't that concerned.

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