home jobs contact us
Our Clients:
Browse by Sport
Find us on ASAP sports on Facebook ASAP sports on Twitter
ASAP Sports RSS Subscribe to RSS
Click to go to
ASAP Sports e-Brochure View our


May 16, 2016

Billy Donovan

Oakland, California: Game One

Oklahoma City 108 - Golden State 102

BILLY DONOVAN: I thought it was a story of two halves for us. I thought the turnovers in the first half really hurt us. They really, I think, punished us in transition off of our turnovers. Missed six free throws and then even our transition besides the turnovers was a difficult problem for us.

So I thought in the second half we did a much, much better job. We took better care of the basketball which enabled us to get back in transition, and I think probably play better defense.

So it's one game, and we'll have to take a look at the film and try to figure out ways we can get better and improve and try to come back and play better on Wednesday.

Q. The turnovers, 10 in the first half, two in the second half. What was the biggest change, and why so much better the second half?
BILLY DONOVAN: You know, I felt like our decision-making was better. I felt like we were in the middle of the floor a little bit more where maybe some options were a little bit easier to see. I think our guys were conscientious about it. Again, I've said this before, we're not a perfect team, but these guys really, really battle and fight and they compete, and I think when they see something that's a problem, they really try to do, to the best of their ability, take the time to try to correct it.

Q. Westbrook went down in that first quarter pretty hard and hit his head on the hardwood. Then after that I think he missed all three shots in the second quarter and he just like gangbusters in the second half came out. Could you talk a little bit about what was going on with him? Obviously there was no fatigue or concussion.
BILLY DONOVAN: No, he's fine. Russell obviously in the first half didn't shoot the ball particularly well, had some turnovers. But the belief, the competitiveness, the ability to come back with resolve and continue to battle and fight, I mean, he played an exceptional second half in every facet. He scored for us, he created opportunities for other guys. He played very, very well. I give Kevin the same credit as well. He had some good looks that didn't go down for him, and he hung there with it and made a big shot late.

But both those guys physically are fine. Russell's fine, and both guys I give them a lot of credit of the resiliency and resolve to keep battling when things maybe weren't going as well for them as they had hoped for or thought they could have.

Q. What was Russell doing in particular in that third quarter that made him so successful, not just offensively but defensively as well? He had three steals in that quarter.
BILLY DONOVAN: He did a really good job -- again, Golden State's a very difficult team to guard. As the game wore on, you kind of can start to feel a little more comfortable with the speed and the movement. We did a better job defensively, and I am sure Steve will sit up here and say maybe they need to do a better job offensively. It's both ways. So I don't want to sit there and take credit that our defense was just stellar because I'll go back and watch the film. But I thought we did a good job based on the actions and things that we were having to guard.

Then offensively he was really in the middle of the floor, Russell. He was able to get to the front of the rim and he made some passes and generated offense for some other guys. He did a lot. He was very, very well balanced between his scoring and his passing.

Q. Coach, you talked this morning about being able to withstand their runs. They'd have seven 9-0 runs, but never got to 15, 16-0. Talk about the poise of your team to limit those runs and hang around.
BILLY DONOVAN: I think you have to do that. Even the shot Steph made to close out the half, it's a 10-point game and he makes an incredible shot. He made one in the second half where he banked it off the backboard at the shot clock. You've got to be able to do that. They've got incredible shot-making ability. I thought some of the shots that Klay Thompson made tonight were remarkable. Some of them were closely contested and very well guarded, but they still went in. That's part of the game when you play against these guys. This is why I think they're obviously a terrific team because they have guys that can generate and make plays when it doesn't look like there's any plays to be made, and you can't allow that to affect you. You've got to play through that. That's why they are who they are.

So I give our guys credit because the first part of the game in the first quarter we were turning it over. We were kind of going back and forth. But we got down double digits a couple times and our guys just kept fighting and battling, and we managed to get it that close and give ourselves a chance.

Q. Coach, what's it say about this team that you can give up 60 in the first half and your primary scorers go 10-of-30, and 7-of-21, they're 33%, and you can walk out of here with a win?
BILLY DONOVAN: Again, I think if you look at the fourth quarter, whether it was a combination of good defense by us or maybe some cold shooting by them, our defense coming down the stretch was good in terms of the amount of points that we allowed. That was a big, big help. We've got to continue -- that's the one thing we've done a good job of here in the playoffs. I think as the end of the season came, in that fourth quarter I think we've defended better, and that's helped us in a lot of ways, even on the offensive end of the floor. Because when we get stops, we're able to get out in transition, and it makes it easier to score.

Q. I know you were not especially happy with your team's focus the first half of the season, that you thought it was building a lot of wins off taking advantage of the schedule. How have you seen the Thunder come together in that regard down the stretch and especially now into the playoffs with that focus and locking in?
BILLY DONOVAN: I just felt like the first part of our schedule we didn't really -- you know, we didn't face San Antonio. We faced I think it was the first game of the year. We were going to play Golden State three times. We still had the Clippers three times. We had a lot of really, really, really good teams. I just said coming out of the All-Star Break that our team needed adversity. They needed to go through a difficult time to find out what they had to do and what we had to do to become and try to pursue reaching our fullest potential. It took time. It was really up and down. It was rocky.

But there are great guys in that locker room that really care about each other and have really good chemistry and bond. It's just that Dion Waiters hasn't been in the league very, very long, Enes Kanter, Steven Adams. There was a process we all had to go through, coaches and players together, to go through some of that. I think one of the things that's good right now is we've been through some situations in the playoffs that we've been down by double digits. I think going through some of that stuff after the All-Star Break probably has helped us grow and become more resilient and tougher. I think when you get in those competitive situations you get scarred up and wounded, and you build some resolve. It's not always easy. When it gets hard, you have to understand how to push through it. And those guys, I think, have done a really good job with that.

Q. During the regular season you guys were kind of in the middle of the pack defensively, but against San Antonio and tonight you've been great on that end of the floor. How do you explain that kind of vast improvement defensively?
BILLY DONOVAN: I think a couple things. One was probably to my fault earlier in the year trying to, I don't want to say play different pick-and-roll coverages, but more trying to have guys make reads in pick-and-roll defenses. Where the ball gets to, when we should late-switch it, when we should trap it. I think at times, to be honest with you, I think it was a little too confusing for them and it was too much. As we maybe simplified some things and made it very, very clear and a little bit more concrete. We've gotten put into some situations where like anything, if you just do one thing all the time defensively, somebody's going to really, really expose you. You have to have flexibility with what you're doing defensively. So we have our core package and our core base which I think we cleaned up and maybe they've gotten better at it.

I also think, too, that they've gotten better defensively and there's been a really strong commitment to want to improve and want to get better. I also think the second half of the season some of the teams that we've had to play against, it's forced us to get better and grow defensively.

Q. Adams had a huge game for you guys and maybe made the key play of the night. He comes up with that loose ball and takes off to the hoop and makes the free throws. Can you take us through what's going on in your mind as you see the pass get away and Adams has the ball and he's going to the basket? What do you think?
BILLY DONOVAN: Well, we had a play on and Russell was able to turn the corner, get down the lane and Steven was at the opposite block. I don't know if Steven was actually expecting a lob or maybe jumped too soon. I want to see it on tape. But obviously it was a loose ball and he somehow came down with it. I thought Russell made the right read because it was an opportunity for Steven to finish. Made a heck of a play coming after the loose basketball, and he turned, attacked the basket and got fouled.

So it was great awareness by Steven in that situation where it was a broken play, and we were fortunate to come back with the ball because the ball was loose, and we were fortunate Steven came up with it.

Q. The Thunder have won the last three road playoff games and in two very difficult places to play, Oakland and San Antonio. Are there similarities in terms of the mindset that guys are bringing into this game to battle through four quarters of basketball?
BILLY DONOVAN: Oh, I think you have to have a mindset coming into these kind of venues. I don't think there is any question about that. Our guys, I think they understand what they're walking into. The San Antonio series we knew we were playing against a great basketball team that guys on that team had won championships and great coach in Pop, and we knew what we were playing against. Here we're playing against Golden State and they've won an NBA Championship, they've got a great coach in Steve, and obviously great players and an enormous amount of success, and arguably one of the best teams in the history of our game. So our guys understand. You don't just walk in here and say, oh, everything's going to be okay. I think you have to have a mindset to understand.

The first thing is to embrace the fact that it's going to be hard. That's the first thing. It's not going to be easy, and it was a struggle tonight. It was. It was a struggle for us. But I thought we had some resiliency and resolve and we kind of pushed through.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

ASAP sports

tech 129
About ASAP SportsFastScripts ArchiveRecent InterviewsCaptioningUpcoming EventsContact Us
FastScripts | Events Covered | Our Clients | Other Services | ASAP in the News | Site Map | Job Opportunities | Links
ASAP Sports, Inc. | T: 1.212 385 0297