So, Game 2 has been picked over exceedingly well in the recaps done by Rick2G, AusTechSpur and last night’s killer marathon by Stampler. So I will bring fresh meat only. There were a few gems in the locker room interviews after game two that I want to share.
Phoenix reporters: Do not attempt to bait the BB's
I'll begin with what I’m guessing was some Phoenix reporter as he tried to trap Barry into giving the Suns some bulletin board motivation:
Reporter: It's been a very physical series so far. You guys are up two-zip. You go into Phoenix with the idea of taking one, taking two -- ending this series as quick as possible?
Brent: (Big Pause) No. Anybody tell you that? Nobody said that.
R: No. That's what I'm asking you.
B: Yeah, I'm telling you, "No."
R: (Getting flustered now as Barry just stand there looking at him.) So you're just going … just trying to -
B: (In full on stare down mode. Flatly) I'm discrediting everything that you just said.
R: So no sweep talk?
B: No, we're taking (chuckles) every game, uh, as it comes. You know, game three in Phoenix, we understand the atmosphere there and what it's going to be like. But at the end of the day we did what we were supposed to do and that's win two games here at home, and hopefully we can go to Phoenix and play a game that's worthy of a win.
I’d say that was beautifully handled by the Spacemonkey. We know how good he is at fielding questions and responding with humor and his unique take on things, but this is the first time I’ve personally seen him circle the wagons quite so dramatically. I particularly like the way he answered his own question: “Anybody tell you that? Nobody said that.” As well as this team works as a team on the court, they’re at least as good at doing so off the court in dealing with the media.
Now, what would the other B² do with his opportunity? Yes, the reporter tried the exact same thing with Bowen. Only this time, perhaps a bit gun-shy, he was only able to get in a quick, "You go into Phoenix looking to take one? Two? Sweep?" and got a dismissive headshake from the Funneler who said, "Naww, we're not talking about sweep or anything like that. We want to go there and play better than we did here in the first half.”
Nicely defused, I’d say. I must say that Pop’s locker room is an organized place where the guys stay on topic and are smart enough to realize when potential boobie-traps are being laid for them.
The Arizona Republic attacks it’s own
Well, I thought that was probably all of the gold that could be panned from this river, but I went ahead and watched the visitors’ locker room interviews and, lo and behold, I found something that I enjoyed quite a bit.
If the Phoenix reporters were trying to subtly draw a quote out of our guys, they were being downright blatant when interviewing the Suns. There were three of them at Bell’s locker, just staying on Bell after he had said, several times, that he didn't have answers for their questions, that he didn't know why the 3rd quarter was so bad, that he'd need to see tape -- after he'd said all of that (and one of the reporters finally walked away after deciding that Raja wasn't going to deliver a quote) a reporter asked him about the way Finley came out hot after halftime, how the Spurs had BO coming off "some curls and screens.” Bell somehow decided that he'd had enough.
He's sitting down in a chair, applying some chapstick as the question is being asked. And he says, "Yeah. Yeah-yeah they did.” The frustration is starting to creep into his voice. “And they did it in the last game and…" Looking left, looking right, smiling a tight-lipped, emotionless smile. "I, I don't know what to say about that." Big long pause -- six to seven seconds, and then he just busts out with, "You can't guard that." He looks up at the reporter, as though he's talking to someone who's thinking that they would be able to do it. "You can't, you know – A guy's running off two screens, and catching it and not even putting it on the floor and shooting the ball. I can't guard that."
The reporter stays at it saying, "It just seemed like to be their intent of theirs to-" But Bell wasn't having it. He interrupted him with his head tilted like a teenager who was being lectured by a parent, and was just refusing to back down, refusing to listen. And all of the way through Bell's next speech, the reporter keeps trying to finish his question or his sentence or whatever it was, but he wasn’t able to because Bell just kept on with, "That's what they did. They did it -- they did it last -- they did it last game. They came out and they did it again and … you know, good play calls by Pop.” He almost spits the Smirk’s name out, jerks his head to the side and makes a face like he just tasted something awful. “And Mike made some nice shots." With that he puts his head down, turns away to his locker and the clip ends.
Inside Nash’s brain
Next, I continue my series of analyzing quotes from Steve Nash. After Game One, he gave us the lovely, “We’re going to be tough to beat,” and from just after Game Two, his gift was:
We had beaten them [two] straight times, now they've beaten us twice; it just happens to be in the playoffs.
What shall we read into this? That he does not realize that the playoffs are a completely different animal than the regular season? The mindset that is revealed by his statement appears to be that he must really believe that they should win this series b/c of what happened the last two times these teams met in the regular season. Isn’t it telling that for a professional as experienced as he is, with as many seasons and playoffs series that he’s been through, that he’s still at the point where he could say something like “It just happens to be in the playoffs.” No, Steve, it doesn’t just happen to be in the playoffs. Some teams try harder in the playoffs. Some players don’t treat a game in mid-November the same way they treat a late-April game. But this statement is revealing, not just about Nash, but also about the Suns’ organization, because I’d say that it’s the job of the coach to prepare his players in such a way that they’re not thinking that what happened in the regular season is a good indicator of what they can expect in the playoffs.
Finally, we end with a quote from Shaq. "A couple of times they [Parker and Ginobili] got to the basket," O'Neal said. "We just have to make it tough for them to do that." First of all, does he really think defense is that easy? S.A. works all season long on defensive concepts and strategies. Pop does everything but stand on their necks to get them to really execute on that end of the court. They take all season long, working together and committing to the teamwork it takes to play elite level NBA defense, and Shaq thinks that they can flip a switch and "make it tough" all of a sudden? Please. He hasn’t even been on the team for half a season – even if he had joined a team that was relatively good at defense, it would be hard to conceive of, but there are no such accusations being made against the Suns.
Second, a “couple” of times? Come one. Antoine and Plainview were camping out in the paint. They were picking out curtains and looking at flatware they were feeling so at home. “A couple of times” huh? Wow, Spaceball must be pretty talented to be able to score all those points on “a couple” of drives into the lane. I’ll tell you happened twice, Shaq. TP made jumpers “a couple” of times. That’s about it.
Allright, see you guys during the game tonight. Go, Spurs, go.