Quotes: U.S. Men vs France
USA head coach Gregg Popovich
On whether he was surprised by the loss:
When you lose a game you’re not surprised, you’re disappointed. I don’t understand the word surprise – that sort of disses the French team, so to speak, as if we were supposed to beat them by 30 or something.
That's a hell of a team. They've got a great coaching staff, they've got NBA players, they've got other talented players playing in Europe, they've been together for a long time. I don't know why that would be a surprise. I think that's a little bit of hubris if you think the Americans are supposed to just roll out the ball and win. I mean, we've got to work for it just like everybody else. And for those 40 minutes, they played better than we did.
On the challenge of facing international teams:
The gap in talent shrinks every year as there are more and more great players all over the world. And you need to give the French team credit for playing well. They were more consistent than we were on both ends of the court. So, it's as simple as that.
On the lack of consistency by USA:
We have to be more consistent. We had two nine-point leads and one 10-point lead, and then an eight-point lead at the end of the game, and we gave all of those up because of lack of consistent defense, too many errors. We had, on offence, dry possessions where we didn't move and took ill-advised shots. So you understand it, you look at it, and you go to work and you try to get better.
On Jrue HOLIDAY leading the team with 18 points despite joining the team less than 24 hours earlier after competing in the NBA Finals:
Well, I'm not a doctor or psychologist, I can't explain. He just did it. He did what he did. And it's just a testament to his character and his competitiveness. He was great, he kept us in the game, and that's just who he is. So you give him credit for that.
On the end of the game:
I feel like we had a lot of easy shots, a lot of open shots that guys usually would make like a layup. That was one of the reasons why (the USA lost). We had a couple of defensive lapses when we were trying to keep that lead, and they came back.
Was there a different intensity to these game?
You can definitely tell they're tired of the USA winning. Everybody wants that feeling of getting that gold medal. And we can't rely on talent all the time to just bring us home. We got to execute and get stops on the other end.
How do you rebound from here?
Backs against the wall, so this is the time for us to really hone in, lock in, really do the little things.
Was this loss because you need more time to learn to play together?
We missed a lot of good shots that guys normally make. I don't think it really had to do with chemistry or getting to know each other. I just think it's a make or miss game, and we didn't hit the shots that we were supposed to late in the game in the fourth quarter, but I think we will be better next game.
What areas does this team need to improve?
Just making shots, to be honest. We all had good looks, we just didn't knock them down. A couple times we were up nine, eight. We could have pushed the lead, but we just didn't knock down shots. And we fouled and put them on the free throw line and slowed the game down, too. So, if we put together some good possessions down the road, we'll be fine.
On the need for consistency:
I think we showed for stretches of the game that we can move the ball and get good shots. And we showed for the stretches of the game that we can put stops together.
It's just staying consistent throughout the game and not having those spikes where they come back, we push the lead up, they come back, we push the lead up — obviously, basketball is a game of runs, but it's something that we couldn't begin with and we have to do.
On the game:
Some moments it’s trying too hard to do the right thing. Instead of just being who we are, you know, the best players in the NBA. Shots just didn't fall. We had opportunities down the stretch. Didn't make me them.
On a team with so much talent losing:
I mean, I think for one, you got to give credit to France, you know. They got a pretty good team, too. I mean, Rudy Gobert is an (NBA) All-Star. Evan Fournier is a really good NBA player. They got guys out there that are in rotations in NBA teams. And they, you know, they just played a better game than we did. They made shots when it counted. They got deflections. I had a shot I passed up, that I should have shot. I swung it – It got stolen. A couple possessions later, I was getting ready to shoot, and I just slip and fall. I turned to try to get the ball, and my leg just lifted in the air. And as you know, the rules are different. And just a couple of things didn't go our way down the stretch. We let one get away. But it’s a lot of things that we could have done better, including making shots.
Is this now kind of like a race against the clock? Or is it kind of felt that way from the beginning just to get to where you guys need to be to play effective enough basketball to win a gold medal?
I think we are more than capable of doing it. I think our number one challenge has been taking a group of talented individuals and turning into a team, in a short amount of time. We got guys that got here last night that played in the Finals. We've been together for the last couple of weeks, but it's just becoming a team and getting really comfortable with each other and having a better understanding of each other, I guess, in going out there and looking like a team. A lot of these guys have been playing for decades together. A lot of these other teams have been together. They know each other. So, I think that's been like our biggest challenge. But I mean, now it is just push it on as to where we got to win the next few games. The next one is the most important. We lost this one tonight. We've got to get the next one.
What do you guys feel right now, as a team?
It was a little bit frustrating, because you don't want to come out and lose your first one, especially when we had a 10-point lead at one point, a nine-point lead at another point and another nine point, and it was like, those are the moments where instead of relaxing, you got to put your foot down, step on the gas and try to create that separation. And we didn't do that. You see that. When you let teams hang around, and they get comfortable, and they get an opportunity and you put yourself in a dogfight. These guys, it means a lot to him, like it means a lot to us. And you know who we see each night sometimes in the NBA, they are completely different when they play for their countries. They got more freedom, and the comfort level is obvious. So we put ourselves in a dogfight, and they made plays to win it.
A lot of people back home will probably look at this as a little bit of a shock that you guys didn't come out here and win the first game. Does it feel that way to you? Or is that an unfair way to look at it?
I wouldn't say it is unfair. I think that's just what the expectations are when you play for Team USA. I think we have a history of dominance and, maybe not always blowing people out, but we have a history of winning. It's not often that you see Team USA go out there and lose, especially to start. So, I think that's why a lot of people make it seem like the end of the world. But our job as professionals and this team, representing our country in these Olympics, we got to do what's necessary, and we still can accomplish what we came here to accomplish, and we got to make sure we keep that in mind.
The USA had some great looks toward the end, and they just didn’t fall. Is that what you thought?
We are still trying to figure out our rhythm. We’ve got a lot of capable guys, of course, we got a lot of great looks. Sometimes it just doesn’t fall, but nothing to hang our heads on. Encourage guys to keep shooting, keep being themselves, and we’ll work on what we need to work on.
Is it that the chemistry really is needed in the medal round, if you get to the medal round, and these early struggles don’t really matter?
This game happened, and it's not the way we wanted it to go, but we still have opportunity. We still have a chance, and we've got to focus on the next game and keep building and keep growing together.