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April 15, 2018

Billy Donovan

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma: Game One

Thunder - 116, Jazz - 108

BILLY DONOVAN: I thought it was a physically hard-fought game. I thought we did a lot of good things in some respects. Some other areas we've got to get better at, no question. Give 36 points in the fourth, and I think we give up 18 points maybe the last three minutes of the game. Clearly we've got to finish the game collectively as a group better than we did tonight.

I think Game 2 will be harder than it was today. We're playing against a really, really good team on both ends of the floor, and I think the biggest challenge for us is can we come back after this game and play better on Wednesday.

Q. First of all, how is Paul's back, and then second, can you talk about his game overall and what he was able to do out there tonight?
BILLY DONOVAN: Well, I mean, he really, really got it going offensively, made some shots. You know, he was in a really, really good groove. I don't know where he's at with -- I don't even want to call it an injury, but just whatever he -- muscle tightness he was having. We'll probably find out more tomorrow.

Q. Utah jumped out to a 16-4 lead, you guys called a time-out. What was said during that time-out, and what changed for you guys, because you played differently after that?
BILLY DONOVAN: Well, I mean, I thought we really got hurt in transition. Some of it was on some turnovers. Some of it was on a lack of floor balance. And I think once we -- I think they had -- I think they may have had nine points that period in transition. That really hurt us.

I think once we got back in transition and set our defense, we were in a better position than we were earlier in the game. We had some really, I didn't think, great possessions offensively, and I thought we cleaned it up. And for the most part, I thought we played like 45 minutes of really, really good basketball. I'm not saying it was perfect, but it was really good. But I think against a team like Utah, we're going to need to play better in Game 2.

Q. Coach, Steven Adams in the final minutes seemed to kind of bang his wrist and didn't really seem to use it that much in the final minutes. Is he okay and do you have an update on his status at all?
BILLY DONOVAN: Yeah, I heard nothing about that. Obviously if there was something major, they would have taken him out of the game.

Q. Just the flow of this game and the tempo of it, for you guys to get that many points on the board against such a good defensive team, while you said there were things you didn't really like, is that something that you can like moving forward with this?
BILLY DONOVAN: Yeah, no, we did. They're a hard team to score against. I thought the second half we did a lot of really good things offensively. I thought the guys really, really adjusted well as the game wore on. I thought we generated and created some good, high-quality shots. They're a hard team to score against. Obviously Gobert and being in foul trouble maybe helped impact that some. But again, I thought our guys did a really, really good job. I thought we competed, we worked really hard. I think the last couple days of practice have been really good and helpful for us. But the challenge is like, this is Game 1, it's over with, now can we come back for Game 2 and get prepared and ready for that game.

Q. Corey got 33 minutes. How did you think he did, and did he come out okay? And secondly, Alex, just seems like he continues to play better and better. Do you see it that way?
BILLY DONOVAN: Yeah, I mean, Corey was fine. You know, the one thing you can always depend on with Corey is energy. He's going to really, really work at it. He got a little bit -- we got on some coverages a little bit broken down with him, and we need to clean that up a little bit. But Corey always gives great effort and makes winning plays, finds a way to do it. Like he made a big three out of the corner when they kind of made a run against us, so he did some good things.

Again, I was really encouraged by Alex. I didn't know what to expect, but the fact that in Miami he obviously got the concussion, didn't play against Memphis, and was really limited in practice these last few days, so you just didn't know. So putting him out there, he played really, really well and helped us. I thought that second unit in a lot of ways had some really good ball movement and really kind of helped us open up the lead.

Listen, that period there, close of the third and beginning of the fourth, we shot the ball well from behind the line.

Q. You went with Paul a lot on Ingles, particularly in the first half. What did you think of -- what went into that decision, and what did you think of the job you did on Ingles and what you did with Mitchell?
BILLY DONOVAN: It was good. Guys did a good job. Corey and Paul, those guys really worked defensively. They're hard-working guys defensively, but I would just say we're going to need to be better in Game 2. We're going to need to be better.

Q. You talked about the good ball movement in the second half, and Jeremy had a couple of nice assists and Russell and all that. First half that wasn't the case. You just had guys sort of just force and make tough shots. That's not a good way; I assume you don't want to plan it that way. But is it nice to know if you have to do it, you've got guys that can do it?
BILLY DONOVAN: I mean, I think that's the challenge for us all year long is the consistency of doing things like that. I think we're more than capable and believe we're more than capable. But to your point, I thought Jeremy at times, we got the ball in the pocket, we moved it, Russell found Steven on some lobs late, we found Carmelo in different situations. There were some moments that were really, really good offensively, but the consistency part of being able to do that for the full 48 minutes is the challenge, has been the challenge for our group, the consistency level.

But I think as -- again, we hadn't faced Utah since December 23rd, so I think it probably took both teams a little bit of getting used to. Their team is, I think, different from when we played, and I think we've gotten better from when we played against them, so I think it's really two teams in a lot of respects playing against each other for almost the first time in a long, long time. There was a feeling-out process. I think once our guys started to feel the game a little bit, I thought we played better as it went along, and I think probably the same thing could be said for them, as well. They were probably feeling us out a little bit, as well. But again, I think the consistency part, to what you're talking about, when you're playing against a good team like the Jazz, you're going to have to have a higher level of consistency.

Again, our guys did a really, really good job tonight, and I'm not taking anything away from them. They did a good job tonight, but we've got to be better in Game 2.

Q. You talked about getting better as the game went on. What did you think of the way Carmelo adjusted defensively, particularly when he was isolated against and being able to get his hands active on defense?
BILLY DONOVAN: Yeah, I thought Carmelo was really good tonight. He was really engaged defensively. He's a great communicator on defense. I think part of the problem probably was more on me, when we got off to a little bit of that slow start. We had him in coverage up a little bit high, and I think he mentioned that if he could adjust and maybe back up, he could take away some of those passes into Favors where he was kind of making floaters and runners and then he was finding Gobert on the baseline and generating some lay-ups for them. So Carmelo is a smart guy. I thought he did a really, really good job in the game on both ends of the floor.

I thought he had some opportunities behind the line that he missed, but certainly that first quarter, being down like we were, he really carried us into that second quarter with the way he closed out.

Q. (No microphone.)
BILLY DONOVAN: No, there was some questions on the coverages on what we were doing. They were kind of flattening us out on the baseline a little bit, and there was just some talk on the coverages, and I think he brought up a lot of good points, which was stuff we discussed, and I think part of it was him communicating just that he could communicate the coverages of what we needed to be in based on the way the floor was being balanced. Like I said, he's a bright guy. He's a smart guy. He's been in the league for a long time. He can sniff those things out.

Q. Paul was making a bunch of different types of shots tonight, spot-ups, off pick-and-roll, and they changed pick-and-roll coverage during the second half against him with those traps. Why was he able to maintain that success tonight against so many different types of defenses?
BILLY DONOVAN: Well, I thought he took what the defense gave him. I thought some of the trapping that they did against us helped us find Jeremy, and then Jeremy made some good decisions and good reads. They were trying to get the ball out of his hands. He was hot, he was shooting the ball well. But I think Paul takes a great deal of pleasure in passing the ball and moving the ball and finding the open man, and I thought when he got it going offensively and they decided to trap him some, he made some good decisions.

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