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May 27, 2006

Pat Riley


Q. Could you just talk about your team after having really played well for three quarters having a little slide and holding on to win this thing?
PAT RILEY: We opened up what I thought was a shaky 10 to 12-point lead, but we had it. I never feel good about it with this team because I've been against them so many times where in two minutes they're back, three-point shots, to the basket, things of that nature, that make you turn it over.
You just keep trying to urge your team, you keep telling them, either it's going to go to 18 or 6. It went to 1. At that time at 74-73 and seven minutes to go and we had the lead the whole game, you're about ready to meet your basketball maker, okay, and that's what it's about. You've had this lead the whole game and all of a sudden you're going to let this thing get away from you.
I think our team responded extremely well coming out. Dwyane hit a real runner that got us a three-point lead, then he took it to six and seven, and that was it.
Q. Tayshaun Prince was not a factor in this game. How much was that a function of a change you may have made or his own fatigue or whatever?
PAT RILEY: Awareness. Once a player goes off on you in a game, the guy that's assigned to him is just more aware. I thought what he was doing more than anything else, and Detroit was really driving the ball, driving it hard and strong and getting second shots. So we did try to take that part of his game away from him. But some nights guys don't get looks like he got there. I thought we were more aware of him tonight.
Q. Can you just talk about the combination of Wade and O'Neal offensively tonight?
PAT RILEY: That's why they're here. When Shaq came on the market, I knew he would change our franchise and change the way we looked at things, and we were fortunate enough to draft Dwyane prior to that, so we knew what we had in Dwyane. The two guys carried us tonight. We needed them.
Q. Just seeing the two of them feed off of each other, does it remind you of any other duo in history, and when they're playing so well, shooting 75 percent between the two of them, is this such a powerful combination you're lucky to have?
PAT RILEY: Well, they played extremely well tonight. There's a bond there, there's no doubt. When Shaq came, he really did because of his experience in Los Angeles. He just wanted to make it right with a young kid, and I think there's just so much respect there for each other, and it also works on the court.
The one thing that I did the same with Kareem and Jamal Wilkes is I always put those guys on the same side of the court so they were rubbing against each other, sweating against each other, picking on each other, talking together. It was always 5-2 stacked, and we run pretty much all our offense that way. They have inside conversations out on the block that I would like to hear really what's being said most of the time, but they're a great combination obviously.
Q. Can you talk about Antoine tonight, primarily as a play-maker making decisions with the basketball?
PAT RILEY: He was big from that standpoint. Antoine has always been an attacker and a guy that goes to the basket and scores, and he was dishing and kicking and using his ability on secondary plays when the ball was kicked at him just to penetrate, get the ball up on the rim, throw lobs to Shaq, make little runners in the lane. I'm really happy the way he's playing.
Q. Outside of a few brief minutes in the fourth quarter, Dwyane played really a steady game unlike the nine turnovers in Game 2. What did you think about that aspect of his game tonight?
PAT RILEY: Well, he responds to it. We talked about it yesterday. We don't make a big issue of it because he's in so many plays, involved in so many situations with the ball that there are times that he's going to make mistakes, and they're a very smart defensive team. You like to score on it and watch the tape and see all the things that he did, and he wasn't going to force the action. He didn't force it tonight, just made the plays that were there.
Q. Could you just talk about a couple things real quick, one, taking Shaq out of the game with four minutes to go, and your strategy with Hack-a-Ben up by ten?
PAT RILEY: Well, I thought they would probably do it earlier when I saw Davis get up, I knew they were going to do it. I was really happy that Shaq made a second, a rebound. We got a ten-point lead. He understands the situation. I would have put him back in the game in the last under two minutes if I felt that I needed to, but at that time I felt we just needed perimeter defense and getting the three-point shooters. It's a strategy.
I'll be real honest with you, I wish they would do away with it. I wish they'd get together next year and do away with the intentional away from the ball foul just because a guy can't make free throws. But it's part of the game, Flip is going to use it and I'll use it.
Q. Considering you've come from a win, would it be too much to say that Monday could maybe be one of the most important games ever in franchise history?
PAT RILEY: We've had a lot of those, so I'm not going there. We'd like to win just to win. I don't want to make it bigger than what it is. We're ahead two to one. We're the first team in the playoffs with ten wins. We need six more wins, we're going to put it in that perspective. Our guys want to be good, relaxed, healthy, happy, humble and ready to play.

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