Additional Quotes >> USA 96, Lithuania 68
USA head coach Mike Krzyzewski (Duke University)
Comments about the game:
It’s always an honor to play against Lithuania, one of great basketball countries. We’ve had so many good games with them. Congratulations to them on having an opportunity also to go to Madrid, it’s certainly well earned. For us they were more than a worthy opponent tonight, they were really a good opponent.
We fouled like crazy; I can’t think of a game that I’ve coached for the U.S. where it’s 42 to 20 on free throws. We’re usually the aggressor, and in that first half we had three of our starters with two fouls after three minutes. So there was a lot of adversity in this game. I thought Klay’s (Thompson) play in the first half was the biggest reason we were ahead at halftime. Then in the second half we were able to start fresh. Two things, our defense, we made a huge adjustment on the defense that helped a lot, and we didn’t give up threes; we stopped putting them on the line as much and we turned them over. The outrebounding them and turning them over I thought was the difference. Kyrie (Irving) was special in this game, in that third quarter he kind of got us moving and everybody started moving with him. We feel very fortunate to be going and playing on Sunday. I’m proud of my team and their effort, and hopefully we get rested and whoever we play, I hope we give them a heck of a game.
Lithuania ran a lot of horn sets and they were successful early on but you had more success when you started trying to deny the high post entry pass, was that an adjustment you made?
The reason that they scored wasn’t that they were running plays off of horns, horns or elbow set brings the two bigs away from the basket. And what they were doing on each side was driving on an unoccupied low post, and this was tough to get help there. The adjustment we made was to get the ball to come back to the middle, which is something we don’t usually do, but that’s where all their guys were. And once we did that and started switching one through four, it made it difficult for them. It was a huge, good adjustment by our guys, and well planned by them to begin with because it’s something that they don’t normally do. They did something a little bit unusual, which is what we should expect from outstanding coaches and outstanding teams.
Everyone was talking about USA-Spain finals. Are you surprised about Spanish elimination?
I’m not surprised about anything in international competition. All these teams are good. That’s why we haven’t mentioned anybody that we might play, because we don’t know if we might play, that’s the very first thing. We can lose. If we feel we can lose, we feel anybody else can lose because there’s so many good teams. From what I heard, France played a great game against them. France is an outstanding team with all the NBA players that they have; well coached, so really nothing surprises me in international basketball because there’s more then one or two really good teams, there’s a lot of really good teams.
Stephen Curry (Golden State Warriors)
On the USA’s next opponent:
I know that whoever matches up against us on Sunday, we will be ready for them.
Did you watch the Spain game?
No, I didn’t watch it. I was following some streams on Twitter, and texting some of my teammates who were watching it, and they were kind of just shocked. Not that they lost, but how the game was played with such a low score in the game, and that kind of deal. But we are all fans of the game as well, so when a good game is on, you’re going to talk about it and whatnot, so that’s kind of the gist of it.
Was this win about as good as the team has played?
Yeah, we play consistent. It’s the same kind of deal. We understand we were coming out, trying to play hard aggressive from the start, but the score might not reflect how hard, how well we are playing, because this is a talented team that we are playing against, and you just have to keep that intensity and that pressure on for forty minutes, and things should go our way. So, we’re becoming a more mature basketball team. Just having that expectation of coming out, starting it off well, having that focus. And obviously had a lot of foul trouble today, including myself, so we got to not let that be a factor come Sunday, but definitely put together a great performance when we needed to.
On the team’s chemistry:
I think everybody is cemented in their roles and knows exactly how they can impact the game when they get in there and have their minutes. So, obviously everybody wants to play as much as they can. They want to go out and change the game like they do every single night in the NBA season. But the way that playing time is and rotations and minutes, you are kind of comfortable knowing when you are going to go in and when you are going to play and how you are going to be effective. And that all has developed as a process of each game, staying focused on what we are trying to do, so we are playing well.
Isn’t the World Cup a little too easy for you guys?
No. The score may look easy, but we put a lot of energy and effort into to making that happen. Obviously, we haven’t had a close game, but just the amount of intensity and focus physically and mentally we put into it, guys, they feel it when you get into the locker room after games, you are pretty tired and fatigued because of how hard we are playing to get it done.
How do you stay focused?
We haven’t got a gold medal around our neck yet, so that’s all the focus we need.
What does if feel like to play for Team USA on Sept. 11?
It’s pretty inspirational and definitely something that we recognize as an opportunity to remember all the families that were affected, and just have that pride in representing our nation. I remember in 2010 we played in the championship game on 9/11, and that was real emotional. You got goose bumps thinking about what it meant to be on that floor, wearing a USA jersey, playing for a gold medal. Today obviously only was the semifinals, but just a big moment. I know a lot of people back it the state were watching, and (we’re) proud to represent our country doing what we do, which is play basketball and do it the right way.
Anthony Davis (New Orleans Pelicans)
Do you think you’re playing the best basketball as a team at this point?
I think we’re coming out to slow starts. We got to do a better job of coming out of the game and putting teams away. We can’t keep coming out, especially in this last game, we know it’s going to be a tough game, the biggest game of the tournament. We got to come out with a lot of energy and a lot of effort.
Was it testy out there tonight?
It’s basketball. Stuff is going to happen. Make sure we keep our heads.
What was the key to this game to win?
Defense. I think we came out and played defense in that second half, shared the ball and got easy looks.
James Harden (Houston Rockets)
What is accounting for the slow starts and the blitzes in the fourth quarter?
We don’t plan it that way. First half, we always try to come out with some intensity and the last two games, it’s been a struggle in the first half and not the way we want to come out. We find a way in the third quarter to kind of force the issue and we have done a phenomenal job.
Is it a conscious thing that you’re making such a strong push in the third quarter or is it flow of the game?
It’s the flow of the game. We got so many talented guys on this team that can make plays. I don’t worry about scoring. I just worry about making the right plays and doing the right things. Today, we got knocked off because guys were in foul trouble, so we couldn’t be aggressive and play our normal defense like we wanted to, but in the second half, we came out and got it done.
It seems like you’re playing faster in the third quarter?
I think our defense creates opportunities. Our defense is special. When we get after guys, we pressure them, we create them turning the ball over. That’s when our three’s start flowing and our transition dunks start going.
Have you figured out FIBA officiating?
A little bit. Still some some rules we haven’t. For the most part, we try not to worry about them and just try to play basketball the normal way. The first couple of games, we were all over the place, but we have kind of settled down and got used to them. One more game for a gold.
What’s on the To Do List to win a gold?
I think play the same way we’ve been playing. I think no matter who we faced, we come out with the same energy. We know our defense is going to create opportunities for our offense, and offensively, like I said, we got so many talented guys. No one tries to force anything. We make plays for each other and just kind of share the ball.
When did you find out Spain lost?
Yesterday when they lost.
Did you watch any of it?
No I didn’t watch it.
What did you feel about not having the opportunity to play Spain?
France is a really good team. They got so many great guys on their team. They played an exceptionally well game. Whoever we play, France or Serbia, it’s going to be a great game. Obviously they are playing and they are there for a reason, so we’re not going to take anyone lightly, which we haven’t thus far. We’ll go out there and have fun playing basketball.
Kyrie Irving (Cleveland Cavaliers)
What was the difference in the first and second half for the second straight game?
We missed shots in the first half. In a few second halves we have played, there is a different focus level, whether it’s nerves or us missing shots or others not making the necessary adjustments. Once we come in at halftime and coaches see what they see, we talk amongst ourselves and we go out there and try to execute the best we can. I mean obviously things happen within a game, and we just have to prepare anything. I think we have a great group of guys who can withstand anything.
Does it have more to do with energy, tweaking, adjustments or feeling out each other in the first half?
Nah, I can tell you it has nothing to do with energy. It’s a lot of nerves going out there. You’re playing for a World Cup, playing for your respective country. Whatever it is, whatever the case may be, we make adjustments when needed and just try to go for the win.
How comfortable are you on what you are supposed to do from game to game?
I think we’re really comfortable. I feel like we’re creating great habits, going from game to game. It started in our exhibition games, just getting a feel for coaches, teammates, everything. Now it’s just brotherhood here. This is one of the best experiences of my life, and I’m taking advantage of every second of it. It’s just a great experience for us to learn from game to game.
Is it easier to pick your spots and figure out when to shoot and when to get others involved?
Honestly it’s just going out there and playing. That’s what it is. We have so many great players on this team, it’s kind of easy to pick and choose your spots when you’re going to get shots. Honestly, it’s not something I’m thinking about going into the game. If I get zero shots, it doesn’t matter as long as we get the win, because we have enough scoring on this team. It’s not even about that. It’s about doing whatever is needed to get this win.
Are you disappointed not to be playing Spain next?
It really does not matter to me. All we’re just looking forward to is whoever we play. Everybody wanted to see us versus Spain, but obviously it’s not going to happen. But we’re going to prepare against Serbia or France and go for a gold medal.
Derrick Rose (Chicago Bulls)
What’s the formula of how you pull away in the second half?
I don’t know. We just wake up. In the second half, we always find that space and opportunity to really get after them.
What did you think of your performance tonight?
I think I played alright – missed shots, missed almost all of my shots. Feeling good, we got the win. I’m not worried about that.
Did you take an aggressive mindset into the game again tonight?
Yeah, just going out there and take the shots I normally take, just trying to get the nerves down and just trying to play a regular game.
What are your thoughts on the team?
I’m just happy we got the championship game. We worked our butts off to get this far, and that’s exactly what we wanted to do. That was the goal. We probably got practice tomorrow and then a shootaround the next day, then we got the game we’ve been waiting on ever since we signed up for this team. We’re very excited.
How surprised were you that Spain lost?
I was very surprised. I think everyone was. With a team like that, I think you can just learn from it. They didn’t come out prepared, and we just tried to make sure we came out prepared and make sure that we talk to each other before the game and make sure that everybody came out and played hard.
How do you get everyone involved with the game?
I think we are doing a good job. Everybody is shooting the shots they normally take, but a lot of them are not going down right now, so that’s why teams are staying close. We tend to relax some times when shots aren’t going down on the defensive end. Coach always reminds us that no matter our shots are going down – if our shots aren’t going down or they are – defensive intensity still has to be there. I think that’s one of the reasons we always pick up in the second half.
How fun was tonight?
It was great tonight. We played a good game. We did what we were supposed to do in the second half, getting everyone involved and it was fun.
Did you get lucky not getting Spain in the final?
Lucky? Come on, luck don’t have anything to do with it. You can believe in luck. I think that’s one of the reasons we came over here was to play them. Too bad we’re not playing them and hopefully we go out here in our next game, play hard and just know we are there for a reason.
Klay Thompson (Golden State Warriors)
Comments about the game:
I thought it was a tough first half for us; we fouled too much. We had a nice lead going into halftime, it’s kind of been the story of this tournament, how we wear on teams, not letting a lead affect us and just playing hard for 40 minutes. That was huge for us in the third quarter, you’ve got to give credit to our starters for coming out hot and really setting the tone for the rest of the game.
Klay, player wise because you guys have heard so much about Spain what part of you kind of wanted a chance to go up against them and maybe shut all of us up?
You always want to play the best competition, and they’ve got guys we’re familiar with from the NBA. Of course everyone knows the Gasol brothers are world-class players, Ricky (Rubio) is a great point guard, and even Navarro is one of the best players in Europe. But like coach said, that’s basketball. You can’t overlook anybody. Same with France and Serbia. Serbia has a few NBA players, and they’ve got some great Europeans in the EuroLeague. We all know what France has, they have some good young guys, they’ve got a world champion in Boris Diaw, and they’ve got Nic Batum who is a great wing. It’s going to be challenge to play either of those teams. They’ve been playing together for a long time, so you just want to give the world a show when you play them.