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Additional Quotes: U.S. Olympic Men’s Basketball Team 105, Argentina 78 (8/17/16)

  • Date:
    Aug 17, 2016

Mike Krzyzewski
Thoughts on the game?
First of all, we beat an outstanding, not just team … what I call a program … an amazing culture.  One of the outstanding coaches in global basketball, maybe as good as any.  Those players, a number of them were probably in their last games … I’m not trying to retire them before they say they have retired.   What a remarkable run by Argentina.  And so we knew we had to match that energy tonight.  I thought we did.  We played really good defense tonight.  But again, congratulations to Argentina and the magnificence they’ve shown the world for the last almost two decades now.  It’s been truly amazing.

Is there a sense of relief or fulfillment that you played a good game?
I don’t know relief.  I just think we’re evolving.  The last three games of pool play were very beneficial to us because we played three outstanding teams.  They showed some weaknesses that we have and we tried to get better.  The only way to get better is by playing these tough games.   Relief, I would not use.  I would say we were just better tonight and more who we can be.  The effort defensively was outstanding tonight.  We really played hard tonight and that was great to see.  Like Kevin said, the passion and energy was terrific.

Can you explain the role of what Cousins and George tonight and what you had hoped for them to do?
I think part of is the other group was playing hard too and then they went to their bench, they have to sub to and our bench just played with great energy.  Paul played his best game for us so far.  He played a great game, not a good game because it was on both ends.  He was all over the place.  I think he had three steals, a few blocks, deflections, scored and Jimmy did the same thing.  And then DeMarcus really played well and gave us a new five presence both offensively and defensively.  We have to rely on everybody.  I thought our entire team did a good job tonight.

Can you address the interior defense and how you made adjustments and your plan when you play the Gasol brothers with Spain?
Well, we won’t have to against the Gasol brothers, so that’s one way of playing defense.  In fact, I’ll take credit for guarding Marc right now.  I’m responsible for him.  The other guy, these guys will have to guard.  We haven’t watched them yet.   We know who they are.  I’d rather talk about them tomorrow when we have media because then we’ll watch them.  Our interior defense was better tonight because our perimeter defense was better.  Guys had to really fight to make movements out there instead of just standing and throwing the ball inside.  Interior defense is not just the big guys doing it.  It’s the team doing it.

Can you reflect on the career of Manu Ginobili who did retire from international play today?
What words?  A hall of fame player, a hall of fame competitor … as fierce a competitor that I, as a coach,  have faced in my entire time in international basketball.  There really has been nobody completely like it.  He’s not a position.  He plays all positions and with the heart and commitment that he’s had for his country, no one could have represented his country at a higher level or better than Manu Ginobili.  It was an honor to always compete against him.  Ultimate respect from all of us from our whole contingent to Manu.

Thoughts on what lies ahead in the rest of the tournament?
What we told our guys yesterday is we aren’t going to pay attention to the past and we aren’t going to pay attention to the future.  We’re going to pay attention to now.  We have not talked at all about another game with our team.  I don’t think you win this thing by talking about teams you might play.  You should talk about teams you are going to play.  We’re glad that we played well tonight in preparation for our next game.

What did you learn from the games in 2008 and 2012 that you can take advantage in your next game against Spain?
I’d rather talk about Spain tomorrow because I haven’t looked at the 2008 and 2012 games recently.  I will tonight, parts of them.  We have ultimate respect for Spain.  They have as much talent and done as well as anybody besides us in the world.  We’ve had great, great games against them and we anticipate another great game on Friday.

Carmelo Anthony
On Argentina’s play:
I thought they played extremely well out of the gate. They took their best punch early. Once we figured that out, we settled down. The adrenaline was going a little early in the game, but once we settled down, we were good.

Is it a little different now that you’re into the medal rounds?
The focus was always there, but you have to turn it up another level. This is one and done for real. We have to take this serious now, I’m not saying we haven’t been taking it serious, but it’s time to lock in. We have two more games where we have to up our focus level and our intensity level.

On the play of Kevin Durant:
It was good. I told him I was happy to see him kind of get back to himself out there tonight. Every day it’s going to be somebody different and today was his day.

On the bench play:
Those guys have been doing that throughout the whole tournament. That second unit, our bench has been applying pressure, has been picking up full court. Jimmy (Butler), Paul (George), Draymond (Green), Kyle (Lowry) and those guys have really been, when the first unit wasn’t picking up or playing well, they picked us up. That’s something that we’re going to need to win this thing.

On the Brazilian crowd cheering for the USA:
I love it. I love it, man. There’s nothing like being in front of Brazilians and Argentinians at the same time. I love it, I love this atmosphere.

On Spain, the USA’s semifinals opponent:
That’s another tough team. They had a great game today. They haven’t been playing well throughout this whole tournament, but they picked it up, they stepped it up earlier today, beat a tough team in France. It’s going to get tougher as we go along, so we have to be prepared.

Jimmy Butler
(question unintelligible)
That’s just the game of basketball. You shoot it when you’re open, pass it when you’re not, rebound, guard, those are the fundamentals of the game.

It seemed as if you really moved the ball well today:
That was key going into this game. Share the ball. Move it. Make the defense move from side to side, make everybody be guarded. That’s what we have to continue to do for the next two games.

On the USA’s slow start:
If you notice, we started out slow in a lot of these games. We don’t want that to happen, don’t get me wrong. But in the end we won. You never want to start out slow, but in the end we won. So, we’re happy with it.

How has competing with these great players helped your game?
It’s making my game a lot easier, my job a lot easier, to tell you the truth. I don’t think it’ll be the same when I go back to my Chicago Bulls, but right now I get to focus on my defense and exert all my energy on that end.

Do you have a particular focus when you come off the bench?
To help us win. It’s everybody’s focus, to tell you the truth. It’s never one thing over the other, it’s to try to outscore our opponent whenever we’re in the game.

What did it feel like when you went on that run?
It felt good. We did what we’re supposed to do: bring energy off the bench, go in there and make those shots, but more importantly, to get stops. If our second unit is setting the tone on the defensive end, our first unit can set it on offense. When we do it like that, it’s going to be fun to watch.

What does it mean for you to play the final game against Argentina’s ‘Golden Generation?’
It’s been an honor playing against Argentina over the past four Olympics, World Championships and things like that. I take my hat off to those guys who will be moving on, retiring so to say. It’s been an honor playing against (Luis) Scola and (Manu) Ginobili all these years. What they’ve meant to their country, I can’t even explain it.

DeMarcus Cousins
How did the team respond from the slow start?
We recognized it early and we snapped out of it and we brought a lot of energy into the game.  It helped us push through.

What did you think of the atmosphere?
Atmosphere was unbelievable.  I’ve never been in a crowd like this before.  It was unbelievable.  First time experience and it was amazing.

Do you feel like you’re hitting your stride personally?
I would say hopefully so.  This would be the right time to make that happen.  Like you said, this team depends on me.  I’m just trying to do my part to help this team win.

What was different for you tonight?
I think I’m just hitting my stride at the right time.  I’d rather it now than any other time.  Two more to go.

Thoughts on Manu Ginobili’s last game?
His legacy, it doesn’t really have to be spoken.  He’s an incredible player, one of the best international players to ever play the game.   He’s one of the best.  Incredible player, incredible career … hate to see  a player like that go.

Thoughts on the game with Spain?
We’ll play it like any other game.  Not to take away credit from any other team, but we come and focus on what we do.  We play our right type of basketball and hopefully we come out successful.

What flipped it for you guys when you came back from down 10 early?
We have been preaching to ourselves that we didn’t want to have the same type of game that we have previously.  I think we recognized it and we corrected the mistakes and brought some energy into the game.  No looking back after that.

Kevin Durant
Thoughts on the game?
We came out tonight and executed the game plan.  The only thing we really changed was our passion and our energy to the game.  Everybody was locked in from the bench to the coaches to the guys on the floor.  We were all one unit tonight.  We’re going to need that going forward.   The crowd was into it and we fed off each other and we fed off wanting to play better than we did in the last three games.  Shots didn’t go down early but we stayed with it.   We moved the ball well tonight.  We got a lot of great shots but defensively we were everywhere.  We were guarding the ball, making them shoot tough shots over us.  We got to keep that up going forward.

Is there a sense of relief or fulfillment that you played a good game?
I wouldn’t say it was a relief.  We have more to go and we felt we always had another level to go to, especially after the last three games of pool play.  We tried to take it personal coming into tonight’s game.  Like Coach said, we just played better.  For us, we’re never satisfied.  We know we got another game coming up against a great team.  We want to continue to build off what we did tonight as far as energy-wise, passion, like I said earlier and moving the basketball and defensively we were everywhere.  We had a good one but we are not satisfied at all.

Thoughts on what lies ahead in the rest of the tournament?
Like Coach said, we just tried to focus on Argentina.  We talked about them for the last two days, transition defense, rebound the basketball, how quick they are up the floor.  So, we didn’t even think about games before and we didn’t think about the future.  I think one of the reasons we came out and played with such energy is because all we worried about was today, which was a Game 7 for us.  We couldn’t get to the semifinals unless we took care of today.  Coach has got us locked in and prepared.  We didn’t take anyone lightly.  We came out and played well.

Why were you more aggressive tonight?  What led to your offense tonight?
I just didn’t care about the outcome of the game.  I was telling myself before I left my room today that I’m at my best when I don’t care if we win or lose.  It might be different for other players but for me, I’m more free and more aggressive in games and more fun for me if I don’t care about the outcome.  I know if I go out there and be who I am, the outcome will dictate itself.  I just tried to play and be free out there and not worry about anything and tonight Coach put me in great positions all night and my teammates were supporting me and I just tried to be aggressive for them and play my game.

What’s it like to be back on the national team?  And could you imagine yourself playing as many years for the national team as Ginobili, Parker and Nocioni?
I don’t plan anything so we’ll see what happens.  It feels great to be back and playing under Coach K and his staff.  Being a part of USA Basketball is just a feeling I can’t really describe.  It’s an elite group that you’re a part of and having USA across your chest means you’re representing everybody.  You could tell out there tonight Argentina and their fans, their pride for their country was on another level.  And then you hear our fans right behind them.  To hear them chanting U-S-A, it gave me chills.  I’m just trying to stay in the moment and we’ll worry about that in the future.

Paul George
How did the team respond from the slow start?
We knew we had to raise our level.  How we were playing wasn’t good enough.  I thought we did a great job defensively of getting stops, forcing turnovers, getting out on the fast break.  That’s where our game has been lost, the fast break game.

Your thoughts on the lineup of you, Lowry and Butler?
It was good playing with them.  We’re a great defensive group and we can score as well.  So it’s a good unit to have out there for Coach K.  We play with a lot of energy and we really just tried to change the game when we got in there.

Thoughts on the performance overall?
I think we got our swagger back both offensively and defensively.  We were confident shooting the 3.   We were confident shooting shots period.  We were aggressive all night.   We did a great job of staying out of foul trouble.  They tried to muddy the game up a little bit.  In the previous games, we kind of would have got some technicals and gave away some free money.  I thought tonight we kept our poise and that’s growth for us.

Thoughts on the atmosphere in the arena?  Where does it rank in venues you’ve played in?
This was amazing.  We couldn’t understand what they were saying but the environment was just amazing.  I’m happy they sent Scola and Manu off on a great note. 

What do you have to do to prepare for Spain?
It’s another challenging team.  It’s another team full of pros.  We got to come in ready.  They’re good.  We can’t look at this game as another win.  All of these games we have to work for it, we have to earn it.  So that’s really the key.  It’s another team full of pros and we have to match them.

What challenges does Spain bring?
They have a little bit of everything.  They have shooters.  They have big men.  They have ball handlers.  They have scorers and they have all of those guys are pros.  They’ve played together for a while so they have some experience. 

Did you see anything out there specifically you could do defensively to have the impact you had?
I knew I could give a lot of energy and really just be a pest on the defensive end, really make plays.  I thought I did a great job of that, playing passing lanes, denying the basketball, rotating, just trying to give effort and energy from the bench.

Kyrie Irving
What was the difference with your team tonight from the past couple of games?
I don’t want to say the team was different, I just think the magnitude of what was at stake was a lot higher. We understood that and we understand that we have to play our best games now. The past is the past. Our moment right now is the only thing that matters and we took care of that tonight.

On the USA’s semifinal game against Spain:
When we breakdown film I’ll have a better feel for them. I’m looking forward to the challenge.

Do you see it as a gold-medal match-up?
I guess you could say that. I wish it was, but it’s not. It’s the semifinals. It’s one game at a time here and it’s almost like a seventh game (of the NBA Finals) every single game you play. I’m just excited to be on an even bigger stage next game going against Spain.

Do you feel your team is the most powerful team here?
No. We definitely have confidence in ourselves, as we should. But we just understand that it’s going to take a lot more than just the talent to beat teams.

DeAndre Jordan
Could you hear the Brazilian fans chanting USA?
Yeah, I didn’t know they were chanting USA, but it was a great feeling to play in an environment like this. Hopefully the next couple games will be like this.

On DeMar DeRozan’s 360’ dunk near the end of the game:
The rims are a little low (joking). No, that definitely got us hyped. You never see all the guys come and be a part offense and a part of the defense, and that’s a great thing.

Kyle Lowry
What was different tonight?
Every game and every team is different.  In this type of situation you got to adjust on the fly.

Do you feel it was your best defensive performance?
We’ve had a couple better performances but we locked in after the first couple minutes of the game and we played probably 32 good minutes of defense.

How important is it for this team to have that kind of output from Kevin?
We need him, Kyrie and Melo.  Those are our guys and Cousins.  We need those guys to be aggressive and efficient.
  

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