Additional Quotes >> USA 110, Tunisia 63
London, England • July 31, 2012
On tonight’s game:
It’s an honor to play against Coach. We’re friends from the World Championships and I thought his team on offense executed very well to give them open three-point attempts that they hit in the first half and a very well-conceived offense. (Makram) Ben Romdhane played a magnificent game with 22 points and 11 rebounds … played with great heart and in the second half our defense picked it up and did not give the open looks and created turnovers which produced offense. It was a good game for us to play against such a well-conceived offense and a team that played with great heart.
On if players from Tunisia could play in the NBA:
I like Ben Romdhane. He’s 23 years old. I think if given the opportunity to play at another level in Europe, you know, I think he’s completed his schooling in Tunisia. He has a chance to grow. He has great heart and a pursuit of the ball and I was very impressed with his play, as I was impressed with their concepts of offense. It’s tough for them to match up with us defensively because we have the athleticism we have, but offensively, coach does a great job of putting his players in advantageous positions. He’s well coached now and it’s just a matter of experience and guys from all over can play in the NBA if they are allowed to grow and the basketball in Tunisia is growing and he’s a perfect example of that.
On the importance of the different players:
Everyone is important on our team. Obviously LeBron James is more important than Anthony Davis or a number of guys. He’s more important than me. There is always a level of importance of each team and to weigh each guy as to their level of importance is not a productive thing to do. All of our guys are important, none of them are more important than LeBron.
On subbing in five at the end of the 1st half:
We’ve done that before. My goal tonight was to try to get kind of an equal number of minutes for everybody in the game and to try some different combinations so there was really nothing meant by subbing five at a time except to get five new guys in and get a certain amount of minutes for each of them and like in Andre’s case, he hadn’t gotten as many minutes. Kevin Love is continuing to improve so we wanted to make sure he got his minutes. Anthony Davis. James Harden. Those guys got extended minutes. And it’s better to have extended minutes sometimes if you go in with a new unit and so that was the only significance of any unit substitutions that I did.
On the differences from the 1992 Olympics and what’s missing from a “Dream Team”:
Michael Jordan, probably. I would start there. That’s one missing link that would start. One of the main things missing is the fact that the world has gotten so much better. There are just so many good players around the world. In ’92 there were good players but not as many and the U.S. had most of them. Now the wealth is spread out much more and you can get beaten by a lot of different teams and we know that and we see that in this tournament with a couple of guys that we had injured that weren’t on the team causes us to have a different style than we may have anticipated a couple months ago, but we’re trying to adjust to that different style.
On the style of defense the team is playing:
The NBA has to play a different style of defense because they have a defensive three-second rule. I call it more playing collegiate defense if you have that many athletes, which you don’t usually have. Where you can have a help-side and pressure the ball and deny the ball. It’s something that you couldn’t do for an 82-game season, 48 minutes with this many games, you would wear your guys out. But in this setting where you really have eight games I think it’s a good way for this group to try to play.
On the team chemistry and Kevin Love’s injury:
We’ve been the same coaching staff for the last three competitions and we know the guys and the guys know each other. They’re really good guys. They’re very unselfish and they know how important Kevin is and Kevin has been playing really well the last two games and they just wanted to make sure he was alright. All he did was, he bumped knees. Initially that’s something, for all of you that play basketball, it hurts for a little bit but a little bit later, it’s ok. And for those of you who don’t, it’s OK anyway.
Carmelo Anthony (New York Knicks)
On the team’s chemistry:
We’re 12 deep. You put anybody out there on the court with us, we know how to play with each other, we have each other’s back. The biggest point is that we have fun with one another.
On tonight’s game:
We started slow in the first half, but we figured it out.
On Tunisia’s effort tonight:
They played extremely hard. We were on the bench talking about how hard they played from the beginning to the end. Tonight was one of the nights where we got it going in the second half. Everybody had it going, we were knocking down shots, playing defensive, and we won the game.
On if the USA is unbeatable:
I don’t’ know. We shall see. That’s why we play the games.
On comparisons to the 1992 Dream Team:
It’s not difficult because I don’t think about. We weren’t on that team. A lot of us were kids around that time, so we don’t try to compare ourselves to that team. We’re doing what we do now and they’ve already did what they did.
On tomorrow’s day off:
We’re going to have a day off, but we’re going to still be around each other. We’ll be in the hotel. We might go to some events tomorrow. We’ve been going since Vegas nonstop, putting a lot of work in, so I think tomorrow, we definitely need that day.
On tonight’s lineup and the reserves starting the third quarter:
You never know what Coach K is going to do. You never know what lineup he’s going to throw out there. We didn’t even know who was going to start the game until we were about to run out there on the basketball court, so you never know with him. You have to be prepared when your number is called. He held us responsible. He held us accountable for what we were doing out there. The game was kind of slow. We figured it out but he left it up to us to figure this thing out.
Kobe Bryant (Los Angeles Lakers)
On the team’s defense:
On this team you can afford to gamble a lot more because you have so much speed behind you that you know someone is going to come and make up for it and come for you so you can take a lot more chances.
On Coach K at Half:
He was fine, he was good. The point that I wanted to make that we needed to adjust was that we needed to stop switching so much. In the first half we switched a lot and I think because of it our defense was a little softer and gave them a lot more space. In the second half we came out and put bodies on bodies and put a lot of pressure on them.
On the rotation tonight:
Everybody is involved every night. Every night is different. We just move the ball and get shots and everybody has pretty much got a good groove every night.
On the second team:
Our bench is crazy. When you have that kind of athleticism coming at you, most of the time they’re keeping their first unit in and so they’re a little worn down and you come at them with Russell (Westbrook) and Dre (Andre Iguodala) and that athleticism and it’s a lot of handle.
On the game:
It’s a late game for us and I think it took us a while for us to just stop gambling and over pursuing everything. It was a game we were excited to play in. It was only our second game so we wanted to jump out the gates and I think it took us a while to kind of calm down and get back to our basketball.
On Kevin Love’s injury:
I knew he bumped knees. He got those big knee pads I didn’t think I it would hurt him that bad.
On if the USA team is beatable:
Any team is beatable on any given night, we just have to come out there and make sure we play the best basketball we can and stay focused game by game.
On the talent on the Tunisia team:
I honestly wasn’t even looking. I was just focused on the game, not thinking far ahead. But they’re a good team with great players. As far as them being professionals, it was good out there. The word I’m looking for is not coming to me, but great team spirit.
On the style in which the team wins:
A win is a win. We’re not trying to embarrass anybody. We’re just trying to play basketball the right way.
On if he was shocked at Coach K starting the second unit in the second half:
No, no, not at all. I think he just wants to see different lineups, There aren’t set starters on our team, even though we probably continuously come out with the same group, but as far as half time adjustments, everybody on our team is worthy of starting.
Anthony Davis (New Orleans Hornets)
On his play against Tunisia:
It was fun. I’ve had a fun time out here playing today. These guys have a lot of confidence in me, and so does Coach K. Put me in the right time and I was just having a ball.
When you went out of the game, it seemed like everyone was off the bench. What did people say to you?
They gave me high fives and that was it. There wasn’t much to it. I came out of the game and we were high-fiving, just like any other guy coming out of the game.
How much of a difference is it for you to come out of college and play against some of the top teams from around the world?
It’s a big adjustment, because the game’s a lot faster, more physical. College there wasn’t the size there. You gotta try to get use to that. Hopefully it carries over into the NBA. The NBA’s not this physical. Hopefully I gained a lot of experience today.
What can you say about the first experience of being with guys like Kobe Bryant and LeBron James?
It’s great. These guys are stars and it’s fun to be around them, learn from them. I pick up their habits.
Who were you looking forward to playing with here?
All of them. I’ve never played with any of them.
Kevin Durant (Oklahoma City Thunder)
On the five-for-five substitutions:
We have so many guys who can come in and there’s no drop-off when you go to your bench. Coach made a good decision and it worked. We’re just trying to do our best to support the second group. They did a great job for us.
On the play of Anthony Davis:
He just finds a way to get to the basket, just goes hard. He’s so athletic and it’s easy for us to just lob it up there and he’ll go get it. I’m happy for him. He’s coming out and playing well and learning a lot before his rookie season.
Will the building confidence of the second unit help you down the road?
Yeah, but they have confidence already. They know what we need to do for us to win this tournament. They come out every game and give us a spark. Tonight was no different.
On the USA’s slow start:
We knew that they were going to come out and play hard. We missed some shots early on. We gave up some easy baskets, but we came back and started fighting a little harder and moved the ball and got the win.
How good was change to start the third quarter?
It was a great look. The best thing about this team is that there’s no drop off. You can go to your bench and you get all-stars off your bench. Those guys did a great job for us.
Is it hard to get up for a team like Tunisia?
No. You always want to get better every time you step on the floor. You don’t want to cheat the game. We want to stick the same no matter who we’re playing: Tunisia, Spain, France, we want to stay the same USA team no matter who we’re playing. I’m glad we came out there and responded well after a tough start and got a good win.
On tonight’s game:
Like coach said, I think they did a really good job of coming out and their energy was really high and they executed and they aced us on a few plays where we gambled or we weren’t alert and they did a really good job of knocking down some open shots. In the second half, we upped the defense a little bit and didn’t want to give up threes and our rim protectors did a good job of holding down the paint and got a good lead for us.
On playing Tunisia – a team with no NBA players:
Not really surprised, I think we understand that we’re going to get team’s best and going back to playing this team in 2010 in Turkey, they had the same type of energy and the first half was similar. So we knew that they had capable basketball players and they showed that in the first half and we had to regroup and get back after it.
On the team dynamic and take-aways from this experience:
I think I take the camaraderie and the relationships back more than anything else. We have a really good bond with one another. Everything is a team setting. There isn’t too much guys spreading out, so we’re trying to build chemistry and that team feeling and being together does that so those are the moments that we’re all going to cherish when we’re done playing basketball.
On the role of the bench:
We’re still building on that, the main thing we can’t let our confidence waiver, and we’re all humans so you know, you’re going to have that at times where you’re not getting as many shots as you think you are … but there are so many things that everyone can do on this team. One night you may not get any shots, but you know, you may cause the play or a deflection that turns into a three point basket for us and we understand that and we’re trying to reiterate that every day to one another that we have all the talent but its the little things that are going to get us to where we want to go.
On the bench starting the second half:
I think our starters played heavy minutes in the second quarter and the second five got a lot of rest so we were a little fresher coming out into the second half. We are defensive-minded. We know that when we come in we are going to have to put pressure coming in so that was our mindset coming into the second half.
On tonight’s game:
It took us a little bit to get warmed up. You know in the second half we kind of picked it up a little. Our second team did a great job and then we tried to come in and finish it.
On the upcoming schedule:
You know, it’s always fun to get a little bit of a break but also to get better. We were able to do both. We were able to get better today and get a little bit of a break tomorrow and get ready for our next match.
On the second-unit playing tonight:
Coach K always switches it up. We have 12 starters. It just so happens you can only start five of us at a time. Those guys came in with so much energy. They shared the ball. They defended. They rebounded. They pushed the lead up.
On the competition:
It’s not easy to us. The final score may look that way, but we go out and we work hard, we work our habits and we try to get better, and I feel like we try to get better.
It looked as if you were having a lot of fun out there:
We’re at our best when we play like that and share the ball. I think our first game we had something like 29 assists on 37 field goals. Tonight we looked at it in the first half and it wasn’t the same, so we just tried to share the ball a little bit.
Are you enjoying this year as much as you did your 2008 Olympic Games?
Oh yeah. We’re only two games in, and it’s totally different, but you definitely enjoy it.
You seem to be having fun out there, is that the case?
Yeah, because you don’t have an opportunity to play with this much talent a lot of times. We’re just try to enjoy this entire experience, because it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity.
Deron Williams (Brooklyn Nets)
On Coach K bringing in a new five to start the quarter:
A lot of times when you’re watching the game you start to pick up on some things. We weren’t, our game plan was to switch and deny and we weren’t switch and denying. We wanted to get out onto transition and run. We pretty much did those things. Me and Russ tried to pick it up, change the tempo of the game and then also push the ball on the offensive end. Russ was able to get out, get some layups and get us going that way. That kind of changed the momentum of the game.
What was Tunisia doing in the beginning?
They played a little zone. We were bailing them out a little with a lot of deep shots, a lot of quick shots. We had 10 assists at half, which is not our game. We have to move the ball a little bit better. We did that, in the end we had 27 assists. We had 17 in the second half, which is around the number we want to be.