Quotes from the Lakers-Rockets game 5/9/99: Lakers Quotes

Quotes from the Lakers-Rockets game 5/9/99: Lakers Quotes

Post by Garret Okamo » Tue, 11 May 1999 04:00:00

HC = Houston Chronicle               LAT = LA Times
AP = Associated Press                USA = USA Today
OCR = Orange County Register         MSNBC = MSNBC
RPE = Riverside Press-Enterprise
LADN = LA Daily News
SJMN = San Jose Mercury News
LBPT = Long Beach Press-Telegram
The Lakers were outrebounded 37-34, got just 5 points
from their bench, missed 10 foul shots, and were outshot
by Houston from the field, 52% to 47%.  Horry/Fox/Harper
shot a combined 2-13 from the field.

The Lakers didn't score a basket in the final 4:05,
but won the game by going 9 of 12 from the FT line then.
For the game, Kobe and Fisher combined for 10-10 FTs.
The Lakers' final FG was the play where Kobe passed to
Rice, who was open for a 3-pt shot but who instead passed
to a wide-open Shaq, who dunked the ball.  Great play.

The Rockets didn't score a point in the final minute of
this game.  Pippen turnover, Mobley turnover, Shaq block.

The Lakers scored 21 points off of 15 Rocket turnovers.
The Rockets scored 6 points off of 10 Laker turnovers.

Game 3 will be blacked out for a 35-mile radius of the
Compaq Center.  It will only be available via pay-per-view
for those people in Houston.  Ouch!

The Rockets are now 0-14 on NBC. The next 2 games are on TNT.

Note in the Houston Chronicle: "Scottie Pippen finished with
14 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists -- not bad for a guy
who was suffering from third-degree burns over 99 percent of
his body after the torch job Glen Rice did on him." (HC)

About the struggles the Lakers have had, Jerry West:
"We've been dysfunctional at times." (LADN, LBPT)
Note: LADN says this was the first game West appeared at
in 6 weeks. LAT says that this was the first time West
had been seen watching a Lakers game since February.

About Wilt's criticism that he disappeared, West:
"I would say absolutely not. [To the] contrary, I've
always been here. Sometimes in your life . . . it's hard
for me to watch games. I'm an emotional guy. It's easier
for me to watch games on TV than in the arena." (LAT)

"To the contrary, I've always been here. It's hard for
me to watch games sometimes. I'm an emotional guy. It's
easier for me to watch games on television than it is
at the arena." (LADN, LBPT)

Asked how much longer he could do his job, West said:
"Not much longer. Not much longer. Not much longer." (HC)

"Not much. Not much. Not much. I think you get to the point
in your life where if your life revolves around coming to
the office, and one day you win and everybody (says) what a
smart guy you are and when you lose, what a dumb guy you are.
I'm none of those. I'm me. I'm no smarter than anyone else,
I'm no dumber than anyone else. I care a hell of a lot more
than most people about this sport, particularly about this
team. That's my biggest problem." (LADN, LAT, LBPT, OCR)

Asked if they would hire Phil Jackson, West said:
"He doesn't think we do things very well around here."

"Phil's entitled to his own opinion." (LAT)

West said that the Lakers were:
"under pressure to hire a high-profile coach" (LADN)

"I think he's done a great job under very trying circumstances.
I don't own this team. All I do is try to give advice to our
owner. We'll discuss what he chooses to do. We've got a lot
of pressure, [with people saying] you guys need a high-profile
coach. There's not many of those guys out there. Most of them
have signed a contract. And Phil Jackson, he doesn't think
we do things well around here." (LAT, OCR)
Note: West also said that Phil Jackson's recent critical
comments about the Lakers didn't remove him from their
possibles for the offseason.  Jackson criticized the Lakers
for their handling of Rodman.  West acknowledged during the
interview that he was against the Rodman signing (no secret).

Pointing out that they didn't have a vacancy now, West:
"Kurt Rambis is our coach right now, OK? I don't think we're
looking for a new coach at this point in time. I think (Rambis)
has done a great job under very trying circumstances." (LADN)

About being overruled by Buss about Rodman, West said:
"I didn't think we needed Dennis Rodman here, OK? But I happen
to work for the best owner in the league. This guy has been
incredible for me to work with. He allows us to do a lot of
things, but we don't own this team. Sometimes we try to give
him advice and let him tell us what he wants done. I just
thought, for this team, it would not be a good fit." (OCR)

Praising Shaq's defense of the pick-and-roll on that
final play, Rambis said:
"It was absolutely phenomenal. They were gonna try to run
some sort of pick-and-roll out of that. Shaq did a good
job helping out his teammate who got hung up on the pick.
He just kept following the ball." (USA, LADN, HC, LBPT, OCR)

"That was phenomenal. They were going to pick-and-roll, and
Shaq did a great job helping out those hung up on the pick.
He just followed the ball." (LBPT)

About how he talked to Shaq before the final defensive play
about his defense, Rambis told Shaq:
"The team has to know that your back is covered." (SJMN)

Asked how many backs Shaq covered with the block, Rambis:
"Well, he covered mine--I know that. He covered the entire
team's." (LAT)

"Well, he covered mine, I know that. He covered the team's,
and he covered Derek Fisher's." (SJMN)

Praising Shaq's mobility and grace, Rambis said:
"For someone that's 7-foot-2 and over 300 pounds to have the
grace that he does... it's just amazing that a man that big
can be that graceful. You see him on tape or on television,
you'd swear he's only 6-9." (LADN, LBPT)

Asked if he was concerned about Shaq's 5-14 FT shooting, Rambis:
"Yeah, we're not going to play him next game." (HC)

"All right, I wont play him next game." (MSNBC)

Pointing out that Shaq should get credit for his good play
if he gets blame for his missed FTs, Rambis said:
"Hes what makes everything work for us offensively. He played
tremendous defense. If you write about him missing the free
throw, you also have to write about him making the great
defensive play." (MSNBC)

Asked if he was nervous before the game, Rambis:
"It's a fun time of the year; it's the most fun time of the
year. So it's not necessarily butterflies of nervousness;
it's butterflies of e***ment." (LADN, LBPT)

About how being a head coach is different because he can
never put the game out of his mind, Rambis said:
"It's an all-day thought process for me. Basketball and our
team is the last thought on my mind before I go to sleep
and the first thought on my mind as soon as I wake up in
the morning." (LADN)

About how their defense improved after the players got used
to each other and began trusting each other, Rambis said:
"Defense is trust. Defense is a developmental thing that a
team has to go through. They have to trust that theyll get
the help they need when they need it. That only comes with
time." (MSNBC)

About how his players deviated from their defensive game
plan in the 2nd half, getting the team in trouble, Rambis:
"We didn't play the defense in the second half that we
would've liked. Basically, when we stuck to our game plan,
when we did what wanted to do, good things happened. Whenever
we varied from that or made mistakes, that's what got us into
trouble. We're just going to have to reinforce that." (LAT)

About how he figured out what Houston's final play
would be, Shaq said:
"I told D. (Derek) Fisher they were going to put us in the
pick-and-roll and try to draw me in, then flip it back to
Hakeem (Olajuwon). I just told him, 'Stay with Hakeem, and
I'll stay with yours.' " (SJMN)

"I knew what they were trying to do -- they were trying to
pull me out." (USA)

"I thought they would be looking for either Charles (Barkley)
or Hakeem (Olajuwon). I thought (Mobley) was going to shoot
the jumper, but he went to the hole. So I just came from
behind and blocked it. I'll admit I've been matadorish on
defense this year because sometimes they let you play,
sometimes they don't let you play. It's important for me to
stay in the game, but, I mean, I know how to play defense."

"I mean, I know how to play defense. I knew he was left-handed.
I kind of let him pass me and I just came from the back. As
soon as he put it out, I just went out there and got it."

"I'll admit I've been matadorish on defense this year, 'cause
sometimes they let you play, sometimes they don't let you play.
It's important for me to stay in the game. But, I mean, I know
how to play defense. At the end, I just helped out and played
solid defense." (RPE)

"I'm a unique player. I know I do unique things." (HC)

"I've got so many great highlights, I don't know if I've ever
blocked a shot (for the win) before. But I admit, I've been
a matador before on defense." (HC, MSNBC)
Note: These quotes are the first time that I remember Shaq
admitting that his defense has been flawed this season.

Figuring that Houston would run a pick-and-roll, Shaq:
"Rumor is I'm not a good pick-and-roll defender. I know I
can play defense." (SJMN, LADN, LBPT)

"I knew what they were trying to do. I told Fish to just stay
with him and I would take care of the inside." (HC)

"The rumor is I'm not a good pick-and-roll defender. It's not
that I'm not a good pick-and-roll defender. It's [that] being
a big man and being a shot-blocker, I'm just used to helping
out the guards . . . I mean, I can play defense." (LAT, OCR)
Note: Rice stayed with Mack so Mobley didn't have the option
to pass the ball out to one his side of the court.

Remembering from the scouting reports that Mobley was left
handed, Shaq used that to his advantage to get the block:
"Rumor is I'm not a good pick-and-roll defender. I knew he
was left-handed. If he was right-handed, I knew that shot
was hard to block. But he was left-handed. He put it out
there, and I went out there and got it." (RPE)

Determined to make a defensive stop because he missed a
FT when he could have tied the score earlier, Shaq said:
"I was kinda upset about missing that one. I told Derek
(Fisher) if they run a pick-and-roll, you stay with mine
and Ill stay with yours." (MSNBC)

"I was kind of upset. I went to the line--I missed the
first one, made the second one. And Kobe came up and gave
us two. I was kind of upset at that point. I knew they
were going to put us in a pick-and-roll and try to draw
me and kick it to Hakeem. I told Derek that if they run
the pick and roll he should stay with mine and I'll stay
with yours. . . . I kind of waited [till] the last second
to go, because I knew he was going to come in. I kind of
let him pass me, and I just came from the back." (LAT)

About how Houston came back in this game, Shaq said:
"We had a big lead, but Barkley was handling us very well
in the low post. They've got some dangerous shooters
that got them back into the game." (USA)

"Barkley was handling us." (HC)

Proud with the way his team battled, Shaq said:
"I'm proud of the way we're playing. If we can play like
that, then the sky's the limit for this team." (LADN, LBPT)

"Were jelling at the right time. This is one game where we
did what he had to do to win." (MSNBC)

Praising Fisher's play over the past few weeks, Shaq said:
"Fisher was huge. He's been playing great basketball lately.
All the big players get, all the big names, get all the
write-ups all the time. But he's been playing some excellent
basketball the last couple of weeks of the season. Some nice
steady play, shooting the basketball, assist-making, smart
decisions ... he's been playing very well." (HC)

Feeling bad that the hack-a-Shaq strategy worked, Shaq:
"I hate missing free throws. I felt bad about how I shot
them today." (HC)

About how defense wins playoff games, Rice said:
"When it comes down to it in the playoffs, you get the
wins at the defensive end." (AP)

About how players are sacrificing for the team, Rice:
"Weve got a lot of guys on this team who are unselfish
and we want to remain unselfish." (MSNBC)

Inspired to make his shot because of the hard work his
teammates were doing to set screens for him, Rice said:
"Guys were working extremely hard, setting screens for one
another. When you have guys working that hard for you, you
have to come off and hit your jump shot." (LAT)

Answering the reporters who questioned the foul call he
got with 5.3 seconds left, Kobe said:
"He fouled me.  It's not a big deal. I wanted to jam Mack
and I don't think he knew Shaq was behind him.  I gave me
more room to come into the middle." (USA)

"Did he foul me? Yeah, he fouled me. That's what (game-
winning free throws) you dream about." (RPE)

"He fouled me. I told Kurt, 'That's where the fun is.'
From a player's standpoint, that's what you want, the ball
in your hands, game on the line. It's what you dream
about." (RPE)
Note: Rambis called the final play for either Kobe or Rice,
and the Rockets denied Rice the ball on the inbound pass.

Kobe went to the FT line for his game-winning FTs thinking
about his defensive assignment on the final stop because
he had "no doubt" (RPE) he would make both FTs. OCR reports
that Pippen asked Kobe to please miss one or both of the
FTs, making Kobe laugh right before he made both shots.

Praising Fisher's hustle to get the loose ball that set
up his game-winning FTs, Kobe said:
"When Derek went to the floor and got that loose ball,
I think it showed everyone how bad we wanted it. Fish
burned them all day." (RPE)

About diving after the loose ball after Pippen stumbled
with 7.6 seconds left, Fisher said:
"I saw him stumble and then I saw the ball slip off of the
back of his leg and when I saw I had a chance at it, that's
all I do. When I see a loose ball, I'm gone." (USA)

"I saw (Pippen) stumble and then I saw the ball slip off of
the back of his leg. I couldn't believe that I could get
there and actually control it and call timeout, but it
worked out like that." (AP)

"If I see a loose ball, I'm gone. I couldn't believe I could
get there and control it and call timeout, and it worked out
like that." (RPE)

"When I see a loose ball, I dive in head first. I may have
had a good shooting night and today was a fortunate day for
me offensively, but a guy like me will always turn back to
the defense and credit that with how we won the ballgame." (HC)

"I'll take a floor burn for the ball any time. I go home
with one or two, night in and night out." (RPE)

About how they are trusting each other, which has resulted
in their improved offense and defense, Fisher said:
"One thing that has really inspired us is trusting one another,
believing in a guy making his shot, believing that guys will
come over and cover for you." (MSNBC)

About how their defense was the key in this game, Fisher:
"We see what it takes to win, and that's on the defensive end.
If we can continue to do that, we'll win, and it won't matter
whether it's by one point or 20." (LBPT)

Asked if he felt they stole this game, Fisher said:
"Yes, I feel like we did (steal it). Those guys are so
experienced, they know where to go when the money's on the
line. That's what makes them such a great team." (RPE)
Note: So when the money is on the line they go to Mobley?

Feeling that this was the best game of his life, Fisher:
"It's not my best night statistically, but it's my biggest
game ever. It means so much and it's the biggest game of
the year." (USA)

"I have had bigger games statistically, but I have never had a
bigger game in a big game. It feels good. You feel you can do
it, but until you do it, you don't know you can do it." (HC)

Taking more pride in his defense than in his 20 points, Fisher:
"Today, people will talk about the 20 points. But when I look
back and see what I did on the defensive end with that play to
help us win the game . . . that's what warms my heart." (RPE)

About going 4-6 from 3-pt range, Fisher said:
"We talked about whoever they decided to leave open, having to
make them pay. I have to deal with that quite a bit. I've got
Kobe (Bryant) on one side, Glen (Rice) on one side, Shaq in
the middle, hey ... they have to leave me by process of
elimination. Today I was fortunate enough to knock some
shots down." (HC)

About the final defensive play, Fisher said:
"Shaq has been ridiculed and criticized a lot for not defending
that play. Lo and behold, they run a pick-and-roll in the last
seconds, and Shaq wins it." (HC)

"Shaq is our guy. He's the captain of the ship. And he made the
play . . . He's always getting ribbed about how he doesn't move
his feet, and how he doesn't play pick-and-roll defense. And lo
and behold, they run a pick and roll, Shaq moves his feet, and
blocks the shot. So he was fired up." (LAT, RPE)

"It feels great. Shaq always tells us, if we get hit by a
screen, just stay with his (man) and he'll take ours. Sometimes
I don't listen to him because I'm always thinking I gotta keep
up with my guy. But the thing we've really improved on recently
as we've started to play better is trusting in one another,
believing in whether a guy is gonna make the shot or make the
defensive stop." (LADN)
Note: If Shaq is expecting the guard to pick up his man on
the pick-and-roll, and the guard doesn't do that job, then
Shaq's man would be wide open for a jumper.  That could
explain all of the jumpers teams were getting on the p-a-r
vs Shaq...and it actually wouldn't be Shaq's fault.

About how Houston couldn't take advantage of their defensive
switch by posting Hakeem on him, Fisher said:
"With a late-clock situation, they don't have enough time
to post him up." (RPE)

About how they shouldn't have been in the position to need
the final defensive play, blowing their lead, Fisher:
"We put ourselves in a tough position, squandering the lead,
and then put ourselves in a position where we had to fight
to get stops and make baskets pretty much every time. To get
a stop for the win, it does make you feel good. But on the
other hand, it was like, 'Naw, we shouldn't have been in that
situation.' " (LAT)

Expecting every game in this series to be tough, Fisher:
"We fully expect each game to be this way." (RPE)

A fan came up to Fisher Saturday while he was buying a Mother's
Day card and said: "Great job this year. I lost a bet because
of you." (LAT)  The bet was that he wasn't an NBA-caliber PG.
Fisher says about that incident:
"The best and worst compliment of my life." (LAT)

About the heavy critical scrutiny he is under, Fisher said:
"I know how it works, I can come out Tuesday and go three for
16 and have everybody on me again, I understand. This is
just one game. But it was an important one." (LAT)

About how his critics motivate him to work hard, Fisher said:
"I know a lot of people think I'm just*** on by a thread.
That's OK. This just fuels my fire. I work out this summer
and I see your face." (LAT)

About why he shouted at Kobe to foul Pippen with 28.4 seconds
left, figuring they needed to get the ball back, Fisher:
"We could end up getting the ball with just four seconds
left. I was surprised we weren't going to foul. I figured
we had to foul." (LAT)
Note: Fisher shouted "Take one, take one, take one." (LAT)
Kobe reached in to foul Pippen just as Pippen slipped.

When Fisher saw the ball on the ground, he thought what
he always thinks in that situation, to dive for the ball:
"Head first." (LAT)

About how he flew his Mom to LA to see this game, Fisher:
"This was a big opportunity not just for the team, but for
me personally. To have my mom there watching all this, it
was an amazing thing." (LAT)

"My mom doesn't get to see me very often, but she was here
today. Statistically, I've had bigger games, but I haven't
had a bigger game in a big game. This was my first oppor-
tunity to play in the fourth quarter of a playoff game,
helping our team win." (RPE)
Note: Fisher appeared on the scoreboard during the game,
holding a microphone, to publicly wish his Mother a
"Happy Mother's Day."

So happy after the game, Fisher's Mom Annette had one regret:
"I just wish Tuesday could be Mother's Day again." (LAT)

About how she didn't use the camera that Fisher gave her for
Mother's Day, Annette said:
"I didn't know where the camera was at that point. I had my
head down, praying." (LAT)

Happy for Fisher, Derek Harper said:
"You have to be happy for him if you know him at all. I mean
every single night, he genuinely gives it all for his team.
I think Fisher's the kind of guy that any team would want.
He's been a real huge force for us. He's played well for us
all year, not just lately. He's gone through some things this
season -- losing his starting job and all of that -- but he's
gotten through that, and I think the little things he has to
go through now are easy for him to deal with." (HC)
Assistant Professor, Santa Clara University
Go Lakers!