Additional Quotes >> USA 126, Argentina 97
London, England Aug. 6, 2012
On the Game:
We beat an outstanding team tonight. I know their point guard was out so they were undermanned. We realized that, but they have some of the best players on the planet on this team with Ginoboli and Scola. They are a championship level team and for us to have a game like this going into the medal round is good. I thought it was very hard fought game and we played an outstanding second half. We got really good contributions not just from our starters, but from Iguodala and Love. On the boards and getting points, they were significant factors for us tonight. We are excited to get into the medal round. That’s why you are here and I am proud of my team in our pool play.
We didn’t see a replay, but when Carmelo hit that three towards the end of the third quarer what happened when you made a motion or a gesture to the ref, what happened there?
Yea, he got hit. Look at the tape I didn’t see it. I would like to see the tape. He got hit in the groin. That is why he buckled over. He wasn’t celebrating his shoot.
The average winning margin in 1992 was 43 points do you think that is still possible?
We just want to win by one point. We just want to win. We are not comparing ourselves to anybody. We are just trying to be the best team that this team can be and whatever happens in this Olympics as a result of trying to do that can be compared at the end of the competition.
Do you feel competitors are getting better?
Yea, the world has gotten a lot better. The world is great there are so many good players 20 percent of the NBA is international, more than that but so many of the European players don’t come over because the EuroLeague is so good.
Do you feel like Kevin is getting the message to shoot?
It’s not like Kevin hasn’t shot. He has been one of our leading scores. I really think that two things helped Kevin today. One, I thought it was his best defensive game. He was all over the court trying to deny. He was either on Nocioni or Delfino and he was chasing people, had his hands on a couple balls. He was animated defensively. The second thing is I thought Chris and Deron really pushed the ball well and when they did it really flattened out the defense and we got some trailer three’s. I think those two things we run some stuff obviously for him, but he kept spacing and those two things happened he played a terrific game. I thought he played a terrific all around game.
Asking about teams dropping games not to play the USA?
It doesn’t make any difference to me. We are playing Australia. All these other games don’t mean a darn thing to me. The only game that means something to me is the team we play next. I am not a fan. I am the coach of the United States team. We are going to get ready for Australia and the other two teams in our bracket. We got three big games to win if we want to win the gold medal. Paying attention to other games is a distraction.
Have you had a chance to look at the Australian team?
Just a little bit. I have always had a lot of respect for the competitiveness of all Australian teams especially basketball. Mills has had an incredible tournament. They play with great heart and they are extremely well coached. They probably play the best defense in the tournament. Their man to man the times I have watched them is coordinated with great effort. They have a good spirit and good talent. We will study them more tonight. They will be a tough opponent. They won 3 games for a 4th place team in pool play. To win three games is pretty darn good.
Are there different standards at the Olympics for chippy play?
Our guys handled themselves well. I mean chippiness is chippiness. I don’t usually use that word. I mean guys want to win and they play hard and that’s part of competition. I didn’t think that our guys or their guys did anything under Olympic standards. I actually thought it was a heck of a game which you want in the Olympics. You want it to mean something where people are playing for their country and they are playing hard and they are fighting. Those are good things for both teams.
Did you talk to LeBron at halftime about coming out and setting the tone?
We talk to the whole team. They are an unbelievably good offensive team. I thought that on a number of shots we challenged them and they just hit everything, but we needed to pick it up a little bit more. I wanted to start in the second half going to him in the post which is where we usually don’t go and he responded right away. On the defensive end, Chris said it starts with the point guards, but he (LeBron) has really been our quarterback on defense. With his voice and he was all over the place on the defensive end especially in the third quarter. I thought he played magnificent.
Why did you want him to start in the post?
Because I watched his workout yesterday at practice and it was pretty good, but we don’t have a post presence. So it was something a little bit different to give our offense a little different look at that time and he responded really well.
Can you say what you have learned?
I think the main that that we all learn is how many good teams there are. In our pool Lithuania almost beat us. There is more competition here than in 2008. I think a number of teams can win the gold medal and the two that played tonight are both capable of winning the gold medal and that’s why it was such an exciting game.
1972 US vs. Soviet Game showing that anything can happen
does that ever go through your mind?
I don’t need that game. We got beat in competition in 2006 in the World Championships and we have been in amazingly tough games with teams during the 6 years I have been head coach. I know that we can lose. I know there are teams that are out there -- the team we played tonight is capable of beating us. We have the utmost respect for world basketball. We don’t have to go too far back. I think if we stay in the current culture. There is just more good teams. There is outstanding teams and coaches. Like I said before, there is not team that has a better spirit than Argentina. All their players are good but Ginobili and Scola, in the history of international basketball, they’re two of the best ever. They come to play every night and it’s beautiful watching them play. I’d rather watching play when they play someone else. I love watching Argentina play and how they work together. I don’t need to look that far.
Carmelo Anthony (New York Knicks)
On the game:
I think we responded well in the second half. That third quarter was big for us. In the first half, we were waiting for them to come to us instead of us attacking them early. But, the third quarter, once we settled down and figured it out and got it going, we opened the game up.
On the second half:
In the second half, we pressured the ball, we got turnovers and got in the open court and that’s our game. From there we started having confidence in making shots.
Was there more of an effort to get the ball to basket in the second half?
We were trying to get something close to the basket. We had a lot of open shots, same shots we’ve been getting the whole Olympics. They weren’t going in tonight in that first half. We started getting some stuff close to the basket, posting up and our defense just turned it around.
Did Kevin’s streak look familiar to yours in the Nigeria game?
Absolutely. I was on the other side of the fence now watching. But for him to get hot like that in a crucial time of the game was special.
Kobe Bryant (Los Angeles Lakers)
Were you sending a message in the second half?
You kind of want to send a message little bit. This is the second game in a row that a team played us close you give a lot of teams confidence with that and we didn’t want to give them confidence.
Thoughts on the Olympic tournament so far:
It’s been a great tournament. There’s been a lot of great basketball being played, very competitive basketball. That Brazil game versus Spain before ours was incredible. I’m sure it’s exciting for the fans.
Did you talk about playing through LeBron to start the second half?
No we just talked about being more aggressive start of the half we went to him in the post on (Andres) Nocioni, got one bucket, went to him again, got another bucket. We just kind of feasted off of it. When KD gets hot, we go to KD.
After what you just did to Argentina, is it looking like blowouts for here out?
I don’t know. We just try to take each game at a time really play hard, compete. Whatever happens, happens.
Was the first half a reminder that Argentina is not to be taken for granted?
We know that. I think everybody knows that. They have a phenomenal team and they’ve been that way for a while. We knew coming in, it was going to be a fight. There was no question about that.
Would it be perfect at the 40-year anniversary of the ’72 Olympics to play Russia in the Finals?
Imagine that. That would be something special.
Something you’re looking forward to?
We’re looking to hopefully getting to the gold medal round and whoever we face, we face. But, imagine the story with that. That would be incredible.
Tyson Chandler (New York Knicks)
How do you feel things are at right now. You are going into the knockout phase?
We are in a good place the second half is the type of basketball we are going to play throughout an entire game. We play that type of inspired basketball it’s tough for anyone to beat us.
Do you get a sense now that there are three games left?
This is what we came for. It’s been a long ride for all of us a long journey. We put a lot of stuff to the side this summer and we want to finish it off right. We came here with hopes to win a gold medal and it’s right in front of us know so with three game elimination we got to do what we came here to do.
How do you explain that third quarter?
It was great we turned it up defensively we got after the ball we challenged their three point shots. We were scrapping. That has to be our identity. When we play like that it’s tough for anyone to beat us.
Was Durant stepping out two more feet on every three-pointer he shot?
You know what he is used to that in the NBA. Our line is further so he shoots he’s one of the best shooters in our game so he can shoot it from there and further
Kevin Durant (Oklahoma City Thunder)
On his streak in the third quarter:
It was one of those times I’ve probably had that feeling three or four times before that every time I catch it, I feel like it’s going to go in but it wasn’t just me. My teammates did a good job of giving me confidence first off. Also, just finding me. They’re passing up shots to give me the ball and that’s a great feeling. I just try to do my part and make the shot.
Did you feel that was like Carmelo the other night?
It wasn’t as good as Carmelo but I felt like I was on the way. I’m just glad we got the opportunity to come out and play better in the second half and put it away.
On his long 3 during his run in the third quarter:
I really didn’t pay attention where the line was. I knew if I caught that ball, I was going to shoot it. It was a great pass and I’m glad I made it.
Are you looking forward to a matchup with Russia in the gold medal game?
We’re just looking forward to these next few games. We’ll take it a game at a time. Our next game is Australia so we got to be prepared. It’s one and done. We’re looking forward to playing.
Are you happy with where the team is?
I think we did a great job responding from last game tough game. Even with the first half tonight, guys came out and played together. We can’t settle for first half play. Our second half play is how we want to play.
How do you find the space you get for your shots?
I just have to move without the ball better my teammates do a great job of passing the ball. We have so many great passers. The ball kind of finds me. I have to do my part and take a good shot and hopefully it goes in.
Is there a concern the defense isn’t always where you want it?
Yeah, it’s a little concern. We always do a good job of bouncing back. Our defense in the second half was great. We were swarming, getting deflections, steals, getting out and getting easy points. If we do that, we’re a problem.
How much do you enjoy this 3-point line in international basketball?
I’m a scorer. I’m not just a 3-point shooter but here for this team, I have to be a spacer. I’m loving it. It’s so close compared to the NBA line. I just got to catch and shoot. Those guys put the ball right on the money we have so many great passers with CP, Deron, LeBron everybody can pass the ball here and it makes it easier for me.
What do you think the team figured out in this preliminary action?
That was can be beat if we don’t come out and play the way we’re supposed to play. We got to always turn it on. We can’t try to turn it on in the third quarter. From the beginning of the game, we got to be focused and ready. It was a good lesson for us, especially that Lithuania game. We just got to be ready for this next game.
On the game:
We just want to have every game as an opportunity for us to get better and we did that tonight.
Argentina has historically given you fits
did you remember that at halftime?
That’s a good team. That’s a really good team. They came out and they played extremely well. They’re well-coached. They got great players. They got great coaches and we were just happy we were able to put together a good game and get another win.
On Durant’s 3-point run in the third quarter:
Those are game breakers. When you got a guy that can shoot the way he shoots, it opens the flow of the game up. It’s backbreakers for the opposing team and he caught fire and we needed it.
How unbeatable do you feel at this competition?
We’re very beatable. We don’t feel unbeatable. We just got to continue to get better, continue to work our habits both offensively and defensively. Every team is beatable in this tournament and we know that as well.
Was it a very physical game tonight against Argentina?
It’s fun. Physical play is great. It’s great for the competition and I’m happy to be a part of it.
Did you have a different focus starting off the third quarter?
It wasn’t like we had a different focus. We knew defensively in the first half we didn’t play to our capabilities. We allowed them to get a lot of open shots, a lot of open looks, a lot of layups and that’s not how we play the game of basketball defensively. We came out with a sense of urgency in the third quarter to step it up defensively, play more solid and not gamble as much. And, then execute a little bit more on the offensive end.
Kevin Love (Minnesota Timberwolves)
Keys to the game:
Our defense. The most important thing for us is that if we play our defense, that turns our transition offense on and it lets us get into a rhythm. We really turned up the defense in the second half and that’s what allowed us to get out to a great start. I thought that Kevin Durant was unbelievable today.
On the play of Durant:
He just had a rhythm going in the second half. We were talking at halftime that everybody needed to step up and make a concerted effort. I don’t think he took that lightly. He came through, hit a lot of big shots for us and that’s what I think got us into a rhythm.
Are you ready for the medal round?
We definitely are. We know it’s one and done now. We know where we want to be on August 12 and that’s in the gold medal game at 3:00. We want to be standing at the top of the podium at the end of the game. We know what it’s going to take and we need to play like we did in the second half tonight.
On the Game:
I follow what coach said. That’s a really good team we just played against. We knew going into that game it would be tough. We played against them a lot of times and that’s just a really good team. We knew to control Manu as much as possible and the same thing with Scola, but the first half they ran their offense to a T and we didn’t defend well. At halftime out coaching staff did a good job of challenging us and we came out and played a much better third quarter and second half.
You said Mike challenged you at halftime and what are your concerns having given up a lot to Lithuania and 59 in a half to Argentina?
I think we gave up 10 threes in the first half so coach told us we know we can score, but what are we going to do defensively. We get in trouble when we are trying to gamble and get steals. It starts with me so if our defense is not doing what it is supposed to be doing it’s on my shoulders along with D. Will’s so everything starts with us both on the offensive and defensive end so we got to remain solid.
What would a gold medal mean to you at the Olympics?
It would mean a lot. It would mean everything. There is no greater feeling then representing your country. There are so many guys back home in the NBA that would love this opportunity and I’m getting to do it for a second time. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Days between games I get a chance to see the best athletes in the world and tonight at 10:15 I get a chance to play on the best team that I will ever play on in life so words can’t describe it.
Do you think tonight the competitive spirit was woken up?
Tonight’s game was so much fun. Anyone who is involved in athletics knows that there are these ups and downs over the course of a game. I give Argentina a lot of credit they pushed us they made us compete and that’s what you want to do. I love it, I love it. When it got a little chippy here and there it gets you excited and it really lets you know you are on the Olympic stage playing for a gold medal.
Was the idea to get the ball to Durant in the third quarter or did it develop?
It sort of developed, but anybody in their right mind knows to get him the ball when he gets to shooting like that. Sort of like Carmelo a few nights ago. Luckily we have a great team that has the presence of mind to get it to him. KD is unbelievable as well as he shoots the ball he finds a way to be unselfish. We have to yell at him to shoot the ball. You see when he shoots it he usually makes it 9 out of 12.
Can you talk about LeBron coming through two games in a row?
LeBron, he is special. What more can you say. I came to the bench and I heard coach say take the game over. He is the guy capable of taking the game over. When you think about a guy taking the game over you just think about scoring. He is the guys who can take the game over on the defensive end. He can share the ball. There was big offensive rebound he got right before the timeout so he’s a freak of nature. He’s what 6 or 7 inches taller than me and maybe 60 pounds more than me and he can do everything I can do with the ball, almost.
It seems like every game you guys are trying to convince KD to shoot, why is that?
I would much rather have that problem then telling him to pass the ball. That says a lot about KD. He has a conscience if he misses a shot or two he is a little hesitant to shoot that next one. even though we are all yelling at him to shoot that next one. We are all going to stay on him until we are done here. He’s not doing a bad job.
Eight years ago when the US played Argentina, Do you remember that game?
I do. I was on the college USA Team. We were in Nova Scotia Canada. We actually won the gold medal. That’s something that you would never forget. Argentina is a special team. I remember that in 04. I has the opportunity to play them in 06 on the National team
In the third place game in Japan and we find a way to play those guys almost every summer.
When it’s one and done, its knock out. How are you going to approach that?
We got to approach it like that. It’s win or go home. We got to come out ready to play every game. We understand that our defense is what makes our team special so we go to come out ready to play every night.
Basketball is quite a small sport in this country, but its growing. Do you feel that having you guys hear the stars on a global level can help maybe grow the games popularity here?
I definitely think so. It’s unbelievable the crowds and the reactions that we get when we travel here it’s a very warm feeling. All of us remember being kids watching the dream team and stuff like that. That was our inspiration to be here.