Quotes from the Lakers-Suns Game 2 5/10/00 Volume 1 Issue 35

Quotes from the Lakers-Suns Game 2 5/10/00 Volume 1 Issue 35

Post by Garret Okamo » Sat, 13 May 2000 04:00:00

About his game-winning shot with 2.6 secs left, Kobe:
"Ten, nine, eight. <smiles> Everything was going in slow
motion. It's a situation you dream about as a kid." (AP)
---

AR  = Arizona Republic             LAT = LA Times
AP  = Associated Press             USA = USA Today
PO  = Portland Oregonian           DB  = Daily Breeze
SLT = Salt Lake Tribune            NBA = NBA.com
TSN = The Sporting News            TT  = TOTK Today
WP  = Washington Post              DN  = Deseret News
OCR = Orange County Register       DP  = Denver Post
RPE = Riverside Press-Enterprise  
NOTP = New Orleans Times-Picayune
LADN = LA Daily News

LBPT didn't include any quotes today.
---

I apologize for the delay of this post. I was busy
all day with the Senior Design Conference at my school.

I said at the top in the LQ after Game 1 that I thought
that Game 2 was a danger game and the Suns would come
out strong.  I said that the Suns would cut their turn-
overs down significantly and shoot better. I didn't read
anything in the media or by Lakers fan on Usenet that
seemed to worry about this game--mainly, all the talk
was about the MVP and Hickman. There is a pattern of
teams coming out strong after being blown out (espe-
cially when they have showed the character that Phoenix
has all season) and teams relaxing after winning a
blowout.  Of course, I can't claim to be right either
about my comments because I thought that the Lakers
would still win comfortably if they matched the Suns'
intensity.  The Lakers made some mental errors (bad
turnovers, relaxing at the end the 3rd quarter to
give the Suns an open shot) and sure gave up a lot of
offensive rebounds in the 4th quarter...so it is de-
batable whether or not LA matched Pho's intensity.

The Lakers were outrebonded 43-37 (with 20 of those
rebounds from Shaq).  The rebounding battle has been
a good barometer of the Lakers' success all season,
and losing that battle while Shaq was so ***
was disappointing IMHO.  Jackson was unhappy with
their rebounding in Game 1 when they had 10 *more*
rebounds than Phoenix...I'm sure he'll have a little
talk or two with his players about this issue now.
The Suns had 17 offensive rebounds to LA's 9!

Shaq was *** once again, and 38/20 is excellent.
However, his FTs have regressed since his 3-month or
so stretch where he was slightly over 60%.  Phoenix
used Longley for Hack-a-Shaq late in the game and
it worked when Shaq missed both FTs.  I hope that
he works out whatever has gone wrong, as I can see
Phoenix using this strategy more at home...and
Portland has enough big bodies to use that strategy
even more.  On the plus side, Shaq's range has
definitely increased this season--he has been making
his turnaround consistently, which he can get off
anytime and which makes the double team ineffective.

Kidd played (and moved) MUCH better in this game.
Kobe was cheating off of Kidd to help out on D, but
Kidd started making his outside shots and hurt LA.
Penny was even more *** in this game than he
was in Game 1.  Cliff Robinson had his career play-
off high and none of the Lakers could stop him.
One problem is that the Lakers like to use Horry
as a help defender...but when he defends Cliff and
Cliff is hot that is a problem. The Suns pushed
the ball like the Lakers expected, but they were
probably more successful with doing so than the
Lakers would have liked.  I credit Pho instead of
blaming LA for that.

I thought that the Lakers mistakes almost gave the
game away and was impressed with how hard Phoenix
played in this game. The Suns got offensive rebound
after offensive rebound in the 4th against a team that
has been *** on the boards basically all year.
Rice had a bad turnover late and Kobe turned the
ball over right after that.  They were afraid to go
to Shaq with his FT struggles.  Kobe even missed a
FT at the end which could have cost the game.

That game-winning shot by Kobe was one of the most
dramatic and spectacular shots for the Lakers for quite
some time.  Defended closely, Rodney Rogers coming to
double him, double-clutching to get it off,*** in
the air, 1 point down with under 3 seconds to go...swish.
The Lakers didn't call a timeout and simply ran the
same play that they have run all season at the end of
quarters...of course, Jackson wanted a different play
(a p-n-r play, which Kobe didn't want because he had
made a late turnover trying to go to the basket) but
Kobe waved his play off. I liked the comment that Kobe's
shot was like MJ's title-winning shot without the push-
off on Russell.  Of course, MJ's shot came in the Finals,
a much more important time. I am so glad that I taped
this game (taking out the commercials).

I thought the Lakers benefitted from several close calls
on the defensive end late in the game.  On at least 2
occasions in the last minutes Shaq could have been
called for a foul.  At Phoenix those might have been
fouls.  However, it could have been just been the
standard letting the players play in the playoffs.
Kobe was definitely fouled several times on drives
without a call (his arm blatantly hit once), and Rice
didn't get a call on things that would have given him
FTs in the regular season.

Rice struggled vs Marion once again. To get his jumper
off, he often had to give a couple of shot fakes to
get Marion in the air and then jump up to the side...
which is not his normal shot.  The announcers said
that Rice should take the ball to the hole more, but
they didn't notice that Rice did so (getting a nice
dunk and drawing a foul on those 2 occasions) when he
had Robinson or Rogers defending him.  When Rice had
Marion on him, he didn't try that strategy because
it hasn't worked for him all year--getting 0 points
on a couple of drives to the hole vs Marion in Game 1.

If Luc hadn't had just a horrible game (2-11 FGs,
4pts, 4rebs, 5 fouls in 32 minutes) or if Rogers
had an average game, the game could have been quite
different.  Of course, Kobe's foul troubles changed
the game significantly for the Lakers.  Shaw had an
excellent game also, making a difference for LA.

In the final 5:14 of the 1st half, Shaq scored 10
points and the Suns scored a total of 10 points.

Kobe's game-winning shot was his *only* basket of
the 4th quarter. (AR)

Fisher still has that serious stomach virus and was
sent home from their morning shootaround and did not
suit up for this game.  The was no report on the
status of Kobe's illness.  Fisher's absence meant
that the Lakers had just 3 guards in uniform--so Fox
finally got some minutes at guard (and struggled).

The Lakers have only lost one 7-game series after going
up 2-0.  Of course, that was vs the Suns in 1993.

One thing I heard on the radio--Blazer fans in Portland
had to pay $25 if they wanted to see the Blazers' home
playoff game despite the game being a sellout.  Of
course, that is from sports radio so it may not be true...

I thank Laurel for the SLT, PO, and TSN quotes.

Geof wrote, IMHO, an excellent and balanced article about
the Hickman vote controversy for TT.  I liked his select-
ion of quotes and commentary wrapping around them.  For
those not burned out on the issue, the article is at:

http://SportToday.org/

About how the refs were letting fouls go:
"All this even though, with Commissioner David Stern in
the audience, the officials seemingly went out of their
way to show that the Lakers are not given preferential
treatment. O'Neal was shoved and grabbed and pushed more
than at any other time in the playoffs so far. It became
ridiculous late in the third quarter when Corie Blount
held O'Neal's jersey and stretched it the approximate
length of the foul lane. That one, they called." (LAT)
Note: The LAT might have an LA bias because I thought
that the refs were letting fouls go by *both* teams.

About Kobe's foul trouble:
"Bryant's aggressive, nonstop defensive pressure some-
times earns him a seat next to his coach. On this occa-
sion, Kobe thought his third whistle, on a Penny Hardaway
baseline move, was a figment of referee Ron Garretson's
imagination, but it kept him inactive for the last 6 ?
minutes of the half." (RPE)

About how the Suns assumed that the Lakers would take
a delay of game penalty before their final shot and were
confused when the Lakers didn't, AR gave a thumbs down:
"To the Suns for assuming the Lakers would take a delay-
of-game warning on the final possession of the game. The
Lakers let the Suns run the play and lined up differently
than the Suns anticipated. It led to a desperation 18-
footer from Penny Hardaway." (AR)

Contrasting the C situation with the Lakers and Suns:
"The script never changes. For 32 years, the Suns have
searched in vain for an impact center. They scrap, they
fight, they come up short. For 32 years, the Lakers have
enjoyed an embarrassment of riches. They throw the ball
in the middle and hang banners from the ceiling. End of
story. And a story that never ends." (AR)

"Surely, Wednesday night's affair wasn't fair at all.
The Suns outrebounded the Lakers, showed more heart
than the Lakers, fought harder than the Lakers. Simply
put, the Suns deserved to win, not to have their heart
cut out on a last-second jumper that made Dyan Cannon
giggle with relief. But then again, the last three
decades have been unfair. Because you scan the annals
of basketball and find one remarkable conclusion: The
Lakers have had three of the four best centers in the
NBA's modern era. ... In the Suns' 32-year history,
there have been only seven seasons when the Lakers
didn't possess the most dominating player in basketball.
So while the Suns' lack of an impact center has become
almost a cliche over the past two decades, the problem
has been magnified because the Lakers always have one
in their midst." (AR)

About Shaq's improvement:
"In the past four seasons, O'Neal has consistently
reported to camp in better shape than he was the year
before. Each year, he has added a new twist to his
low-post arsenal, and every move was on display
Wednesday. Believe it or not, Longley played a tre-
mendous defensive game. And after three quarters,
O'Neal still had 27 points. He has learned the drop-
step, learned how to use the baseline, learned how
to lead the league in assists by a center." (AR)

About Rice's 3rd quarter:
"Forward Glen Rice scored nine points in the third
quarter, including a three-pointer, and grabbed a pair
of rebounds. Rice's three-pointer was the key in LA
maintaining its momentum toward the end of the third.
He grabbed a rebound at the defensive end, fired the
outlet pass and received the ball in perfect position
to pull up and nail the bomb." (AR)
Note: I thought that Rice struggled for the other 3
quarters, but had a nice 3rd quarter.

About how Shaq took moves from Hakeem:
"Nothing the Suns did to O'Neal mattered much, though.
Playing all but 1:03 of the first half, O'Neal scored
21 points in that stint, including six in the final
1:30 of the half when he tortured Longley with three
spin moves he borrowed from Olajuwon himself. O'Neal,
whose footwork in the post is ballet-like, studied
film of Olajuwon after that 1995 Finals in which
Olajuwon dominated him, taking from hours of viewing
the baseline and post moves that made Olajuwon the
1994 MVP and, more important in O'Neal's view, a
twotime NBA Finals MVP." (DP)

--- Quotes from before the game ---

Contrasting Shaq before and now:
"It is a measure of his growth, both as player and person,
that a young man who once visited Greece and thought the
Parthenon was a night club Tuesday quoted Aristotle as he
received the Most Valuable Player trophy." (ESPN)

Before the game, Jackson worried about his team:
"You can get distracted real quickly with a game like
this. You can take something like this for granted
real easily." (LAT)

About how they needed to be focused, Jackson said:
"We can't worry about Shaq being the MVP, we can't
worry about what else is happening in the league, you
have to stay focused game by game. Championship teams
do that." (LAT)

"I think this game-to-game, day-to-day type thing is
really what the series is all about. You have to stay
focused game to game, and not worry about what's going
on anywhere else in the league, not worry about Shaq
being MVP. Just concentrate on what's really important
today, now, the next play. That's what it takes to win
championships." (DB)

Worried they would take things for granted, Jackson:
"Because you can get distracted real quickly in games
like this, against a team you've won five consecutive
games against. You start to take it for granted. We
certainly shouldn't." (DB)

About how they are the #1 rebounding team in the
playoffs (with a 10rpg advantage per game), Jackson:
"I think it's been a matter of Shaq (O'Neal) dominating
and having big rebounding guards." (LADN)
Note: The Suns outrebounded the Lakers in Game 2.

About Frank Hamblen's responsibilities vs Pho, Jackson:
"He takes this team all the way through the series, took
them all the way through the year. Everybody else pitches
in and keeps track of what's run when during the course
of a game." (OCR)
Note: Jackson designates specific opposing teams to
specific assistant coaches.  Hamblen handles the Suns
and Cleamons was the leader in scouting the Kings.

About how he and his staff coach pretty much the same
way as they did in Chicago, Jackson said:
"The only difference for us, perhaps, has been our
process of regurgitating the information for game-to-
game to the players and how we go about taking apart
game film and presenting it back to the players. But I
think we are keeping them as informed as possible with
what we are doing." (RPE)

Not surprised that the Portland fans chanted "Beat LA"
during their Game 2 vs the Jazz, Jackson said:
"that's what fans do." (DB)

Asked when Kobe would take over the team from Shaq, Phil:
"I don't see that happening for a number of years." (OCR)

"As Shaq matures, grows older, whatever his limitations
will bring to him as he gets into is 30s, he may take a
role that (former Lakers center) Kareem (Abdul-Jabbar)
took in the later part of his years. He played part of
the game concentrating on one area. (O'Neal can) loaf
down the court like Kareem did and do those type of
things that play the important part and let Kobe take
the prime role. That's an evolution of this team. I
don't see that happening for a number of years,
though." (RPE, DB)

"Kobe taking the primary role is the next evolution
of this team. But I don't see that happening for a
number of years, though." (DB)

When receiving his MVP award before the game, Shaq
pointed to Phil and told the crowd that it belonged
to the: "real coach of the year." (LAT)

"I'd like to thank Phil Jackson, the real coach of
the year, my teammates and most of all the Staples
Center fans." (LADN)

Surprised when he was told he got a 4th place vote in
the MVP race, placing him 12th, Kobe laughed and said:
"I didn't expect it, at all. Thank You." (RPE)
Note: The news had been out for about a full day
until Kobe heard about his vote in the MVP race.

About slowly building his game up to MVP level, Kobe:
"It's something that you set the foundation for. You
want to do the groundwork first, then continue to
elevate your game to where it gets to the point
where you deserve MVP status." (RPE)

About Shaq's statement that he wanted Kobe to win
a couple of MVP awards also, Kobe said:
"We just swap roles. But, yeah, I think that time
will come eventually. Right now, I'm just doing
whatever needs to be done. Eventually down the
road, I'd like to get a couple of them." (RPE)

Asked if Shaq would have to be in the twilight
of his career for Kobe to get an MVP award, Kobe:
"No, not necessarily. At least I was on the
ballot. I just hope." (RPE)

With all the talk about Shaq's MVP, Rice brought up Kobe:
"You can't forget. we've got another guy who's
probably going to be the MVP one day." (DB)
Note: DB notes that Rice named Kobe...but they
left that out of the quote I guess.

About Hickman's vote for MVP, Rice said:
"Yeah, it matters to us. To us, it was no contest. I
don't know where that one vote slipped away." (WP)

About Shaq and the MVP award, Harper said:
"Here's a guy, who came in training camp maybe out of
shape; worked his way into shape; played all season long
and did everything we asked him to do. That's how you get
MVP. And you lead your team, and he led our team all
season long." (ESPN)

About how Shaq loves basketball, Harper said:
"These are guys who love this game, and those guys
deserve things, I think. Shaq has found that he loves
this game, and every day he comes in here he tried hard,
and he improved his game." (ESPN)

About how Hakeem was fired up when SA presented the
MVP trophy to DRob before a WCF game in 1995, Horry:
"He was really fired up, because when they gave it to
David, they gave it to him in front of Hakeem. 'Dream'
said, 'Insult me? That's my trophy.' So he just served
him up." (DP)

Asked if he worried that Longley would be inspired in
the same way when Shaq gets his MVP trophy, Horry:
"No, because that never was Luc's trophy, and never
will be." (DP)

About how Phil tried get them to avoid a letdown, Salley:
"The last two days, Phil has really been hitting this
hard, talking about how we have to better ourselves
every game no matter what the circumstance. In practice
he even said that he hoped we watched Indiana almost
lose to Philadelphia because they took them for
granted." (LAT)

Salley said that Jackson said:
" 'Commit to your teammates . . . to being the best that
you can possibly be.'  And that's what he preaches. Be
the best you can be, especially on your home court." (RPE)

About Jackson's statement that it takes a special
energy to beat the Lakers at the Staples Center,
Skiles was asked if it was true of just Phil talking:
"Him talking. They won 67 games. They've got a great
home record. You've got to play good, obviously, but
it doesn't take anything more special to win here
than it does to win in Phoenix, win in Indiana, win
in Miami, win in New York." (LAT, OCR)

About the extended 1st round format, Skiles prefers the:
"same pace as the regular season. But maybe we benefited
from it because of the number of injuries we had." (OCR)

About how worrying about Kidd's ankle wasn't an ideal
situation to try to beat the Lakers in LA, Skiles:
"He feels better but he's done basically nothing but
rehabilitation the past two days. It's tendinitis right
now but it's a matter of if he has soreness in it, the
doctor says not to go. He doesn't want to do anything
to hurt himself or the team. Everybody has their unique
set of problems this time of year. But we can't
complain. Twenty-one other teams are on vacation." (OCR)

"Yeah. I mean, I suppose, but everybody has their unique
set of problems this time of year. This just happens to
be ours. We can't complain. There are 21 teams on vaca
tion. We're still playing. We'll just have to make the
best of it. I feel like if we play hard, we'll play
well. If we play well, we'll win." (LAT, OCR)

"Unless something bad happens, more than likely he'll
start. And then we'll take a look at it. Unless when he
warms up, he says he just can't go. He feels like it
feels better right now and we'll see. If he's favoring
it, seems like he's limping or whatever, he'll just come
out and that will be it . . .Jay and I have talked. He
doesn't want to do anything to hurt himself or the team,
either. I mean, he'll let me know, I'm sure, before I
even notice. If he feels like he can't go. And one thing
we have to fall back on is the fact that we've played
without him already and we've won some games without him
already too, so we'll just have to wait and see how it
plays out." (LAT, OCR)
Note: This quote was from 1 hour before the game.

Feeling that the Lakers would be motivated by Shaq
receiving the MVP award before the game, Kidd said:
"We know they're going to be e***d by Shaq getting
the MVP, and they'll make a run. We just have to be
ready for that and respond." (AR)

About Kidd's uncertain status, Cliff Robinson said:
"As a team, as players, we're not letting ourselves get
caught up with whether Jason's going to play, because
we have to go out there and play, whether he plays or
not. We definitely would love to have him out there,
but we don't want him out there hobbling. We don't
want him out there, putting himself at further risk.
. . .He's not a small part of our club, definitely
not, but at the same time, we've dealt with injuries
all year, so this is just another situation we'll have
to deal with, if he's not playing." (LAT)

About Shaq's MVP award, Jerry Sloan said:
"He has played terrific basketball for them and he's
clearly one of the best players in the league right now,
the way he's playing. I think he should have got it." (PO)

"This is the first year he's been in great shape to
play basketball." (DN)

About Malone's longevity, Sloan said:
"O'Neal is a huge impact player right now. And Karl Malone
has done a tremendous amount for this team, getting us in
a position to even be here. Especially at his age. I'd
like to see a lot of these guys who talk at age 25 about
how they like to play basketball, but how much do they
like to play when they get to 35 or 36? I mean, you've
got to really enjoy playing basketball to try to be an
impact player, and (Malone) has done that. He hasn't
taken time off. If (Malone) had the last three or four
years off where he wasn't in shape and then comes out
and plays well, then I think he deserves credit. But he
didn't do that. He's always gotten himself in shape to
play. O'Neal, this is the first year he's been in
great shape to play basketball." (PO)

About Shaq's MVP award, Mike Dunleavy said:
"Shaq deserved it. He's had a great year on both ends
of the floor. Everybody's entitled to their own opinion,
but I think it was pretty clear cut." (SLT)

Asked if his team was looking ahead to the WCF and
the Lakers, Dunleavy said:
"The next series? Are you kidding me? Anybody thinking
about that series, they don't have their minds straight.
This is plenty to handle, right here." (PO)

Asked if it was hard to not think about the Lakers,
the team he coached to the Finals in 91, Dunleavy:
"The who? I don't even know the name." (TSN)

Rejecting the talk about "grandfathering" contracts
to avoid the luxury tax, David Stern said:
"Not a possibility. Actually, if he'd like to do that,
there are other teams that would be happy to relieve
him of those contracts, if they're causing a burden.
I was there when the offer was made. Strange as it
seems, he said no." (LAT, LADN)

About how the fans want to see the Lakers, Stern:
"It is important for the league to have teams that
people want to see play. And any team that has won 67
games, you expect the fans would want to see them. I
think in the case of certain stories, there's always
an extra [interest] . . . whether it's the Celtics or
the Lakers or the Knicks. The Suns carried that, as
well. Certain teams have had great followings, that
when they really do very well, they get sort of an
extra amount of attention." (LAT)

Taking offense when it was suggested that the refs
would favor the Lakers ("NBC's golden goose"), Stern:
"What somebody is saying is, 'You're a crook, you're
committing a felony. When people who are serious
members of the media utter that, they're ignorant."
(LAT, RPE)

"That would be a felony." (RPE)

"I'll tell you how I react to it as good-naturedly as
I can. Really what someone is saying is . . . you're
a crook. And you're committing a felony for which they
put people in jail for 10 to 20 (years). So I assume
that either the people who are doing it are either
good-natured and I take it as good-natured, or so
incredibly ignorant that it doesn't pay to respond." (AR)

About drawing out the 1st round to get 5 additional
games on NBC, Stern said:
"Every game on NBC instead of a cable network gets
two and a half times the number of viewers, so more
people saw it." (LADN)

About how they will continue to use the format, Stern:
"We did that, signed the contract three years ago,
because we knew we were going to be needing money
because of (last season's) work stoppage. And the
only way to get more games on TV was to add an extra
weekend." (OCR)
Note: Stern proclaimed the extended 1st round format
a success because NBC viewership was 2.5 times that
of cable and overall ratings were up 9%.

Asked about the seemingly endless stream on timeouts
during the playoffs, Stern said:
"We're working on that one . . . so that the last two
minutes (of a game) doesn't have to take 25." (LADN)

Asked if it was good for the NBA (and TV) for the
Lakers to do well, Jackson said:
"That's not my domain. It's good for me for the Lakers
to be good. It's good for L.A. for the Lakers to be
good, and that's as far as I'd like to go." (LAT)

About the Lakers playing an exhibition game on Oct 11
in New Orleans, the first NBA event there in 4 years,
Jeanie Buss said:
"I was aware of New Orleans' new building and that
Shaquille O'Neal played collegiately in that market.
So I thought it would be a great idea to play a game
there. When I called about the Lakers playing in the
new arena, the reception was tremendous." (NOTP)
Note: The Lakers will be playing the Hornets in that
game.  Coincidentally (or not), the Hornets are one
of the teams rumored to thinking about moving and the
arena in New Orleans was just completed in October
and is looking for an NBA team.  The Hornets made $1
mil this year with their 8 luxury boxes and their
premiere seating.  The Bulls made $24 mil this year
with their luxury boxes and premiere seating. The
New Orleans Arena has luxury boxes and is being
offered to NBA teams at no cost from what I read.

---  Quotes from the game ---

About the 1-point win, Jerry Buss said:
"It was closer than the score would indicate." (LAT)

Unhappy with his players, Jackson said:
"I'm a little disappointed in the players today. We had a
real good third quarter and an opportunity to extend the
lead but we gave up a 3-point shot at the end of the
quarter and started the fourth in kind of a daze. We
probably did not deserve that win, other than the fact
that we were willing to play some defense." (USA, DB)

"I'm a little disappointed in the players today. We had a
real good third quarter, we had a 15-point chance oppor-
tunity, to extend the lead when we were up by 12, with
seconds to go and we gave up a 3-point shot (by Robinson)
at the end of the quarter, and started the fourth quarter
in a daze. And they came out with a lot of energy and put
the game in jeopardy. And we were lucky to pull it out,
actually probably didn't deserve that win, other than the
fact we were able to play some defense down the stretch."
(LADN, LAT, LAT, AP, NBA, AR)

Asked if this game showed that the Suns have figured
a way to get back into this series, Jackson said:
"There's no such thing in this kind of situation.
Every game has its different personality. That in itself
might give them hope, but I mean, who cares? They go
back home, they've got to have that mentality, anyway,
because they're in jeopardy." (LAT)

"There is no such thing in this kind of a situation. You
play for what it's worth, and every game is different,
has it's different personality. . . . (The Suns' come-
back) in itself might give them a hope, but who cares?
They're going back home, they've got to have that kind
of ability or else they're in jeopardy anyway." (LADN)

"You play for what it is worth at every game and each
game has a different personality and in this game we
got outscored 31-23 in the fourth quarter, but we won
the middle two quarters. This might give Phoenix some
hope, but that does not matter." (NBA, AR)

About how Kobe struggled early in this game, Jackson:
"He really took himself out of the game. But somehow or
another he got himself back in it. He found a way." (OCR)

About how Kobe waved off their planned play, Jackson:
"We had an open floor, and we had set up a screen-and-roll.
He waved it off for an isolation. I like an open-floor
play rather than a timeout in that situation." (DP)

"We actually had set up a screen-roll in transition,
and he waved it off, wanted to do isolation instead,
because he got in trouble the time before penetrating." (LAT)

"We had an open floor and set up a screen roll in
transition...and he had a little trouble penetrating in
the crowd, but I like an open floor play rather than a
time out and in transition. Kobe knew that this was one
of those games that you play to the hilt and he got in
foul trouble and really took himself out of the ball-
game but was able to come back and be an effective part
of the game." (NBA)
Note: "Of course, Jackson had also pointed out before
the game that the beauty of the current make-up of the
O'Neal-Bryant combination is that Bryant has plenty of
opportunity to shine, specifically in end-of-quarter
situations where Jackson puts the ball in his hands at
the top of the key." (OCR)
Note: "The Lakers tried to set up a play for O'Neal to
take the last shot, but Bryant decided to try to drive
against Kidd, who was playing on a sprained left ankle,
when he saw the Suns cheating their defense toward the
center." (DB)

Praising Shaq, but talking about how they almost let
the game get away, Jackson said:
"This is Shaq's game. He controlled this game and
controlled the energy of the game, and yet it got
away from us simply because we didn't make some free
throws, he missed some free throws down the stretch,
and we stopped being able to operate with the basket-
ball." (LAT, OCR, RPE)
Note: Kobe and Harper also missed FTs in the final 1:40
of the game.  Shaq missed his 2 FTs with 2:18 left.

About the game, Shaq said:
"There was not all that much e***ment. We just shot
the ball well in the first half, but we played pretty
good defense. At the end of the third quarter we had
a lapse and at the end of the fourth quarter we kind
of had a lapse." (RPE)

"We had a lapse at the beginning of the fourth quarter.
Nobody was really happy with the effort we put forth
tonight. But Kobe hit a fabulous shot and we got lucky.  
We have to play four solid quarters.  Phoenix is a
dangerous team." (USA, AP, LAT)

"We didn't bring our 'A' game today. Kobe saved us." (LADN)

"We didn't bring our 'A' game tonight. But Kobe saved
us. That was an amazing shot." (DB)

"There was not all that much e***ment ... we just
did not shoot the ball well in the first half, but
we played pretty good defense. At the end of the
third quarter we had a lapse and at the beginning
of the fourth quarter we kind of had a lapse. We
were up by 12 and had a couple of turnovers and they
started making shots, no one was really happy with
the effort. However Kobe hit a fabulous shot at the
end and we were really lucky. We just want to go to
Phoenix and just get one. Phoenix played better,
they played more enthusiastic." (NBA)

About how he couldn't sleep at all Tuesday night (he won
the MVP award on Tuesday), Shaq said:
"Just couldn't sleep." (LAT)

Asked if the MVP award distracted him, Shaq said:
"It wasn't a distraction to me. I thought I had a
pretty solid game. Team-wise, we had a pretty sloppy
game." (LAT)
Note: Shaq had 20 of the Lakers' 37 rebounds.  He had
5 blocks to just 1 for the entire Phoenix team.

Asked if he could have imagined the bad turn of
events in this game, Shaq said:
"I don't believe in if's . . . If that would have
happened, we just would have had to get one there
[Phoenix]. We still have to get one there." (LAT)

Asked what he was thinking after he turned the ball
over with under a minute left, Kobe said:
"Damn." (RPE)

Asked what he was thinking when he missed a FT with
43.5 seconds left, Kobe said:
"Double-damn." (RPE)

Asked what he thought when he had the ball for their
final shot, Kobe said:
"Let's win it. Let's go home." (RPE)

About his game-winning shot with 2.6 secs left, Kobe:
"It's a situation you dream of... like when I was a kid
in my backyard. Everything was going in slow motion. I
just tried to read the defense to see where everybody
was. I had to pull the shot back a little bit and thank
God it fell." (USA)

"I tried to read the defense to see where everybody was.
I just felt like I was in the backyard. I had a flash-
back to when I was a kid. I just tried to go right, cut
left, and went up for a jump shot . . . thank God it
fell." (LAT)

"I just felt like I was in the backyard, I honestly did.
Just kind of flashed back to when I was a kid and I just
tried to go right, (Kidd) cut it off, so I came back to
the left. I was going up for the jump shot. I think I
saw his hand out of the periphery, so I had to kind of
pull the shot back a little bit, then guide it through." (LADN)

"It felt like I was in my backyard. I was pretty relaxed.
I was just trying to read the defense, see where every-
body was. When the shot went in I had a flashback to
when I was a kid. It was just a great feeling." (DB)

"I was so mad I missed the free throw. I was just glad
I got the chance to redeem myself. . . . I just tried
to go right, cut left, and went up for a jump shot. I
think that I had a hand up, so I had to pull the shot
back a little bit, and thank God it fell." (LAT, NBA)

Asked how it felt to make a shot like that, Kobe said:
"Feels like doing it again." (LADN)

"If we had 82 games like this, that'd be fine with me." (OCR)

About how he kept Kidd's injury in mind when he was
going for his shot, Kobe said:
"I knew he wouldn't be able to elevate enough to block
the shot." (AR)

Asked if his 2 turnovers in the final 3 minutes were on
his mind when he was getting ready for the final shot, Kobe:
"I just put those behind me and moved on." (DB)

About how he struggled all game, Kobe said:
"I never got in the flow of the game, foul trouble kept
me from getting me in synch with my teammates. They
played harder tonight, they got to the loose balls, but
we won." (AP)
Note: Kobe won't use this excuse, but remember he has
been ill with flu-like symptoms.

Praising their bench players, Kobe said:
"The bench came in and played excellent. We're a better
team than people think as far as how deep we go." (AR)

About Kobe's game-winning shot, Rice said:
"I don't know what I was thinking at the end. I was
just hoping that it would go in. Kobe is known to
make shots like that. Thank God it went in." (NBA,
LADN, LAT, OCR)

About how Pho came back in this game, Rice said:
"We have to put teams away." (LAT)

"We had them down by 12 points at one point. We have
to put teams away. It wasn't a good game for us but
we were fortunate that we were able to win." (NBA

About how they believed they would pull it out, Rice:
"Tonight, we were lucky. It could have went either way.
But also when we get in a down situation we still
believe that we can pull it out." (NBA)

Unhappy with how they were flat for this game, Horry:
"We should have came out and had a better performance
for the big fella. We should have came out and been
hyped because he got it. We should have used that as
momentum. We didn't get that hyped. The crowd didn't
get that hyped. We didn't play the way we should have." (RPE)

About how he knew Kobe would take the shot, Horry:
"I knew he would come down and do his thing and take
the shot." (OCR)

About how the difference in Shaq now, Horry said:
"Shaq's whole body language is different this year." (RPE)

About how they can't take anything for granted, Horry:
"You never know what you can run into. Teams can get
hot at any moment, when you least expect it. This time
of year, it's all about matchups -- and getting hot.
A series can change in a heartbeat. You have to be
ready for anything." (RPE)

About Houston's title run in 1995, Horry said:
"We were the sixth seed, and they beat us three times
in the regular season. But everything changed for one
reason: Dream got hot. Our superstar got hot, and the
rest of us filtered in behind him." (RPE)

About the playoffs are about matchups, Horry said:
"You can't take anything for granted. Just because
you have the homecourt advantage, it doesn't mean
anything if you don't come out ready to play. When
we won our first title (in '94), we couldn't beat
Seattle. But we got lucky when Denver beat 'em in the
first round. Funny thing is, we always could beat
Chicago when they were winning championships, but we
never made it to the Finals against them. We had
Vernon Maxwell, who gave (Michael) Jordan a hard
time, and Dream took away the lane from Michael and
Scottie, so they had to shoot jumpers. That's what
I mean when I say it's all about matchups. Some
teams you're just more comfortable playing against
than others." (RPE)

About the playoff teams left playing, Horry:
"They're all dangerous now." (RPE)

Praising Kobe's game-winning shot, Harper said:
"Kobe Bryant is one of those guys that you just sit
back and watch what he's going to do. I don't know
how he made the shot but a shots a shot." (NBA)

"Kobe Bryant is one of those guys you just sit back and
just wait to see what he's going to do. I don't know
how he made the shot. . . . What he told me, 'That was
like me playing outside alone, and I was 12 and I'm
thinking, man, this is great.' He's a kid who makes
some mistakes, but comes out and just plays hard.
That was a great shot." (LAT)

"What he told me was, 'That was like me playing outside
alone and I was just calm, 12, 11, and I'm thinking,
man, this is great.' And so he's a kid who makes some
mistakes, but comes out and just plays hard. The last
shot was definitely a hell of a shot." (RPE)

"I was waiting to see what he was going to do. I don't
know how he makes shots like that. He has his own
style." (OCR)

"Kobe had a bad game for a long time, but he came
through with the big play." (DB)

About their D on Penny for the Suns' final shot, Harper:
"Everybody knew who was going to have the ball. He was
playing good all game long, so our main thing was to
slow him down some." (LADN)

"He had been doing the same move all game long. He's a
great guy to shoot the ball last. My thought was to
least get a hand up. Shaq came over and made a real
nice play, and somehow we got this win." (RPE, NBA)

About contributing when Kobe got into foul trouble, Shaw:
"Twelve years in this league, there have been countless
times I've been in that situation. I was just trying to
take what they gave me." (OCR)

Wanting to take advantage of his extended minutes due
to Fisher's illness, Shaw said:
"I wanted to make the most of the opportunity. I knew I
would be getting more time because of Fish, so I tried
to be productive when I was out there." (OCR)

Hoping to earn more playing time, Shaw said:
"I want to build Phil (Jackson's) confidence in me. I
know what I can do." (OCR)

About his 6-8 shooting, Shaw said:
"I just take what they give me. They were sort of
daring me to shoot, so I did. I have a lot of
confidence in my shot." (AR)

Asked if Longley had a bad game, Scott Skiles said:
"You think?" (LAT)

About trying to stop shaq, Skiles said:
"We tried to foul him when we thought it was necessary...
on one or more occasions when Oliver came in Shaq backed
him right at the basket and dunked on him. I was comfort-
able with what we were doing on Shaq...and I thought we
did an all around good job on Shaq." (NBA)

About Kidd's play in this game, Skiles said:
"He played good. I thought Jason played very well. I
thought he had a nice floor game and played great
defense on Kobe's last shot. We just looked at it and
Kobe made a hell of a shot, he double pumped and just
made a big time play." (NBA)

About how his ankle felt good yesterday, Kidd said:
"My ankle feels good, although tomorrow will be the key.
I never favored it.  I think the three days off gave me
some rest." (USA, AP)
Note: Games 3 and 4 will be on Friday and Sunday, so
Kidd will have less time to rest his ankle between games.
But he looked so much better in this game and I hope
that his ankle continues to improve. I always cheer for
both teams to be at full strength.

Feeling he played good D on Kobe's final shot, Kidd:
"We were right there. Anytime you're on the road, it's
the last two minutes where the game is won and lost.  
Kobe double pumped and made a tough shot.  And we didn't
get a good look (on the final shot).  We didn't want
(Kobe) to get to the basket.  I thought I played pretty
good defense.  You've just got to give him credit." (USA,
AP)

"It was a tough shot. If he misses that, we walk out
of here with the series tied. But he made it." (AR)
Note: I thought that Kidd played excellent D then.
Kobe just hit an amazing shot.

About how they at least had a chance to win, Kidd said:
"What you want is a chance to win the ballgame. In Game
One, we didn't have a chance.  Tonight, we did." (USA)

Praising Shaq and taking confidence from the game, Kidd:
"Shaq had 38 and 20, those are MVP numbers. The biggest
thing is that we never hung our head and and we never gave
up.  Down (nine) to start the fourth quarter, we actually
took the lead, so we know we can play with these guys.  
It's just a matter of finishing." (USA)

About how they gained confidence in this game, Penny:
"We played hard. We missed a great opportunity, but we
just have to go back to the drawing board. We gained a
ton of confidence." (RPE, LADN)

About Kobe's game-winning shot, Penny said:
"Good defense, better offense." (AR)

About not getting the call on his final shot, Penny:
"I got hit by Shaq, but this is the playoffs, he's the
MVP, and he just got his trophy. They would never make
that call, and I understand that. This is the playoffs." (AR)

When a reporter compared Kobe's shot to MJ's shot over
the Cavs' Craig Ehlo in 1991, Penny said:
"That's exactly what I thought of." (AR)

About the loss, Cliff Robinson said:
"That was a game that we fought hard for an opportu-
nity to go home with a win. Right now, it's a
disappointment." (AR)

About how they know they can beat the Lakers, Robinson:
"We go home 0-2 but we know we're capable of beating that
team. Kobe made a tough shot.  We did what we needed to do
to give ourselves a chance to win and we just came up a
litle short.  We definitely let them know that we're not
going to give up." (USA, AR)

Looking forward to playing at home, Cliff Robinson said:
"It's disappointing, especially after fighting so hard in
the fourth quarter to give us an opportunity to win the
game. We're feeling good about going home." (AP)

About their new looks to defend Shaq for Game 2, Cliff:
"We can try some different things and see what works.
And if that doesn't work we'll go back to the drawing
board and try some new stuff." (LADN)

"We can throw different things at him, but we have to
experiment as each game goes on to see what works." (LADN)
Note: Sac came with an interesting strategy of using
Kobe's man to double Shaq.  So, when Shaq would get
the ball back to Kobe, Kobe would have space to work.
On the first occasion they tried that, Marion rotated
to defend Kobe...and Rice made a jumper.  After that,
they just tried to have Kobe's man get back to Kobe
as quickly as possible.  Of course, this strategy
was more effective when Kobe was out of the game and
they were leaving Harper free.  When they left Shaw
free, Shaw drained jumper after jumper.

About making Shaq make tough shots, Robinson said:
"Shaq's been doing that to everybody in the league.
For us to say that we're going to be the team that
stops him, we're not going to say that. But we're
going to do whatever we can to make it tough on him." (OCR)

About how they used an illegal D vs Shaq in Game 2, Cliff:
"But that's a chance we have to take. He's a big guy,
he plays hard and he's hard to defend." (LADN)
Note: Robinson did NOT deny they used on illegal D...
rather, he said that they had to take a chance on
using one (I guess hoping that it isn't called).

About his help D on Kobe's final shot, Rodney Rogers:
"The man made a tough shot. I didn't really get my hand
all the way over because Jason had his hand there. I
figured he had it but [Bryant] made a difficult shot.
You can't say nothing about that." (LAT)

Upset at the refs, especially on Penny's final drive
of the game, Rogers said:
"It's not fair and that's all I can say. Make it a fair
game and we'll see what happens. . . . Our man goes to
the hole and gets fouled but no call is made. But they
[the Lakers] did a good job of maintaining their
composure." (LAT)

About their defensive adjustments vs Shaq, Longley said:
"It was just one point less effective. We made him shoot
a lot of tough shots. He didn't get inside for a lot of
dunks. But he made his shots and that's why he's the
MVP." (OCR)

About having to sit out these games, Gugliotta said:
"It's difficult, all the stuff we went through this
eason, a lot of it caused by myself. The team is
starting to come together." (AP)
---

Box Score

PHOENIX (96)
                      fg    ft    rb
               min   m-a   m-a   o-t  a pf   tp
Marion          25   4-6   1-2   3-9  0  2    9
Robinson        44 12-25   3-4   1-2  2  3   30
Longley         32  2-11   0-0   2-4  3  5    4
Hardaway        45  9-17  9-11   2-4  8  4   27
Kidd            43   5-9   1-1   1-8  6  2   13
Johnson          5   0-1   0-0   0-0  1  0    0
Rogers          26  3-11   2-2   2-7  0  4    8
Day              4   1-2   0-0   0-0  0  1    2
Blount          16   1-3   1-2   6-9  0  5    3
Bailey         DNP - coach's decision
Livingston     DNP - coach's decision
O Miller       DNP - coach's decision
_______________________________________________
TOTALS         240 37-85 17-22 17-43 20 26   96
_______________________________________________

Percentages: FG-.435, FT-.773. 3-Point Goals:
5-16, .313 (Robinson 3-8, Hardaway 0-1, Kidd 2-3,
Johnson 0-1, Rogers 0-3). Team rebounds: 9.
Blocked shots: 1 (Hardaway). Turnovers: 12 (Kidd
3, Longley 3, Robinson 3, Rogers 3). Steals: 8
(Hardaway 2, Kidd 2, Robinson 2, Longley, Rogers).

LA LAKERS (97)
                      fg    ft    rb
               min   m-a   m-a   o-t  a pf   tp
Green           23   1-3   0-0   0-6  0  1    2
Rice            40  5-12   2-2   0-2  2  3   13
Oneal           47 16-28  6-14  8-20  3  2   38
Bryant          34  6-11   3-4   0-4  6  4   15
Harper          30   2-4   1-2   0-0  3  4    5
Shaw            31   6-8   0-0   1-2  5  1   12
Horry           25   3-6   4-4   0-3  3  1   12
Fox             10   0-1   0-2   0-0  1  1    0
Fisher         DNP - flu
George         DNP - coach's decision
Knight         DNP - coach's decision
Salley         DNP - coach's decision
_______________________________________________
TOTALS         240 39-73 16-28  9-37 23 17   97
_______________________________________________

Percentages: FG-.534, FT-.571. 3-Point Goals:
3-10, .300 (Rice 1-4, Bryant 0-1, Shaw 0-1, Horry
2-3, Fox 0-1). Team rebounds: 10. Blocked shots:
8 (Oneal 5, Bryant 2, Rice). Turnovers: 13
(Bryant 5, Rice 4, Horry 2, Oneal 2). Steals: 8
(Horry 3, Bryant 2, Fox, Oneal, Shaw).
____________________________________________
Phoenix            26   18   21   31  -   96
La Lakers          24   26   24   23  -   97
____________________________________________
Technical fouls: La Lakers 1 (Illegal Defense,
8:21 4th). Flagrant fouls: None.  A: 18,997. T:
2:23. Officials: Ron Garretson, Ed F Rush, Ted
Bernhardt.

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