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April 19, 2019

Billy Donovan

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma: Game Three

Thunder - 120, Trail Blazers - 108

Q. Was today just a validation of what you guys were saying after Game 2, just keep shooting, you liked the shots generally that you guys were getting, it just was a matter of they weren't falling?
BILLY DONOVAN: You know, I thought our ball movement was much better consistently tonight. I thought to start the game, we got a little stagnant, and then the guys were emphasizing it, we were emphasizing it as coaches, just to keep moving the ball, and I thought we generated better shots for a full 48 minutes. You know, 27 assists in the game.

Like I said, those are shots that I think in a lot of ways we've been getting throughout the course of the last two games. We haven't made them. I wanted to make sure I just keep encouraging our guys because we're getting shots -- like Jerami shot better tonight. He's been a really good corner three-point shooter for us tonight. If we can move the ball and generate open looks, we want to take those.

Q. It looked like both teams played great defense in the first half. Along as the game went, that was less so. Did both teams just wear out defensively trying to guard -- you having to keep up with Lillard and McCollum and them having to keep up with all you guys?
BILLY DONOVAN: I'll say this: One, it was a great environment in there tonight, and we needed the fans tonight because you know it's going to be a 48-minute game, and that third quarter they really got it going offensively. I thought the encouragement of our crowd, the environment that was in there really kind of helped us kind of get back on track, so to speak.

I thought that third quarter, I thought both teams really were good defensively in the first half. In the third quarter I thought for them, Lillard got a little more aggressive than maybe he was in the first two quarters. That was the one quarter I think -- we've had some quarters in this series, first quarter Game 1, this quarter, where we've given up way too many points. I think it's a very valid point that there was a lot of energy expended by both teams in that first half, but for us in Game 1, 39 points, there wasn't necessarily a lot of energy expended. That could be the case.

I thought our guys really, really worked hard defensively. Listen, those two guys are hard to deal with, and you've got to put forth effort because they do -- they can shoot it from deep. They can really put it on the floor. They can finish at the basket, and you know, obviously Terry puts them in a lot of great situations for them to showcase and utilize their skill set.

Q. Given what Lillard did in that third quarter, looked like you guys were really trying to get the ball out of his hands in the fourth. What were you trying to do, what was the message there, and how did you think you executed defensively?
BILLY DONOVAN: Yeah, we did a really, really good job I thought in the first half just with our help. I didn't think we had enough help on him. Some of it was coming out of transition, some of it was drives, some we were back, we weren't matched up. There was a lot of different things that happened that got him going that I thought we had great awareness of that in the first half, and I didn't think our awareness was quite as good there in the second half, at least in the third quarter.

Q. Were you okay with that dunk by George at the end of the game?
BILLY DONOVAN: Yeah, I don't -- I think that my feeling was they probably shot a shot to close whatever it was, it was 19 seconds, and then Paul kind of went in and he dunked in, so I think both teams played the game all the way out.

Q. I think after tonight, three quarters of the playoff games so far have been won by the team that makes more three-pointers than the other team. Is that pretty much where the NBA is today, you just have to make more shots than who you're playing?
BILLY DONOVAN: Well, the team that makes more shots generally scores more points, and if you score more points you win.

Q. But like three-point shooting specifically, if you're not a three-point shooting team --
BILLY DONOVAN: You know, I think there's obviously a huge analytical piece that's moved to all that stuff. I personally feel as a guy that loves the game and loves the relationships in the game, for me I love the analytics. I love learning about it. But it's not like the end-all, be-all for me. And I say that respectfully because it is really, really important because the most important thing to me is if you're moving the ball, sharing the ball, playing unselfishly and getting good shots, because there are just some players in today's game that are really, really good in the mid-range, and there's some players in today's game that are really good shooting threes, and there's some players that are really good shooting floaters and runners. To analytically remove a player from a game because he doesn't play in certain scoring areas I think is a mistake, but the three-point line is a factor. It's a huge, huge equalizer in a game.

You can play really, really poorly, but if you really make a lot of threes, regardless of this series or any series, I think you can always keep yourself in a game.

Q. You stuck with Dennis down the stretch, and I know I've asked you before about kind of the Dennis-Terrance back and forth and the balancing of their minutes. What did you think about the way Dennis was able to defend down the stretch with McCollum and Lillard coming off of that strong third quarter that they had?
BILLY DONOVAN: I thought Dennis did a great job tonight. I thought he really was huge. He was huge on offense, he was huge on defense. I thought he picked up. He was physical. He was aggressive. He really, really worked hard. I thought he did a really good job.

I think for Terrance, it was tough because the last couple games he's dealt with foul trouble, and it's hard for him to get into a rhythm. He picked up three fouls there in the first half and then he picked up an early one in the third. I tried to play him a little bit longer just to kind of give him just a little bit of momentum or of playing time instead of just pulling him off. But Dennis kind of really, really got going offensively and just kind of stuck with him, and he also did a good job tonight defensively. I thought coming off the bench Dennis was a huge boost for us.

Q. Billy, what are your thoughts on the back-and-forth between Russ and Dame there at the end of the game?
BILLY DONOVAN: I was too far removed. I don't know all that was going on. Obviously technical fouls were given out. I don't know enough about it.

Q. Did you do anything specific with Jerami to encourage him after the two games in Portland, or do you just assume, hey, he's a four-year pro, he'll figure it out and come through?
BILLY DONOVAN: I think we tried to -- going from Game 1 to Game 2, you're looking at how they're guarding you. They're looking at how we're guarding them. You're looking at what you can try to take advantage of. You know, Jerami just shot the ball better tonight, and I think he got similar looks over the last two games that just didn't go in, and I think he needs to take those shots regardless because I think if you look over a body of work of 82 games, he's been a 39 percent three-point shooter. But I think sometimes when you condense it down to two games and sit there and say, okay, wow, this guy is not shooting the ball well, I get the magnitude of it because of what's at stake, what's on the line, and seven-game series, like you don't have 82 games to look at. Right now we're not shooting a very, very good percentage. Like I said, I thought in the third quarter in Game 2, we were really stagnant, we turned the ball over. I thought first quarter we got a little bit, and then I thought in the second quarter we picked it up, and then I thought the rest of the game we played well. I think when the ball is kind of flowing like that and it finds Jerami in the corner and he's in rhythm, I think he's a really, really good shooter, and I thought Russell and the rest of the guys did a good job finding him in areas and spots on the floor that he shoots the ball normally pretty well from.

Q. What's your comment on Terrance Ferguson today?
BILLY DONOVAN: Did a good job tonight. Worked hard. Was probably in a little bit of foul trouble, but Terrance I think gives everything he can out there defensively.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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