August 24, 2006 / Sapporo, Japan
General Comments about the game:
This was a great game. The Italian team was magnificent. We knew coming
into the game that they had the toughest minded players that we had seen
so far, internationally. And they can, obviously, shoot the basketball.
Very unselfish. The coach uses his players so well. They are a tough team
Our defense was much better in the second half. We had to go much smaller
to defend them and Carmelo played a lot of the 4 and he was
a match-up problem for them. So was Dwyane Wade. I am proud of our guys.
As Coach (Recalcati) is proud of his players.. its a game where
everybody should be proud to be a part of the game. It was a great basketball
On the difference
in the second half:
We subbed a lot differently in the second half. And, our defense was excellent
in the second half. They didnt get many open looks. Overall, they
were 7-for-21 from three-point range and they got a lot of those in the
When you look at the game, they
had 38 points in the second half. Thats the best half of basketball
that weve played defensively. What is
nice to see is that we did it when we needed it.
The other thing is that we didnt
use our platoon system and the guys adjusted to it. One of the benefits
of doing the platoon system is that I know our guys now. I was impressed
with the shape (conditioning) of our guys, because Carmelo (Anthony),
Dwyane (Wade) and Elton (Brand) played extended minutes. It just shows
they are winners.
This is a great win for our
team because we played against a team that was at their best and they
were undefeated. It was a first place game. To play like that
Carmelo to get 35 in a first place game, thats big.
Every shot that our guys took in the second half was a pressure shot,
because there was pressure on them. I love them. I got so excited coaching
them during that time. I love the heart that they showed.
The main adjustment was that Coach (Recalcati) put out a
lineup where he has multiple ball-handlers. Italy all their guys
can handle the ball. Thats one of the things in international ball.
Everyone says, international players in the US.. can shoot. They can handle
the ball. The ball was comfortable for them. So they put a lot of pressure
on your defense.
What we did, is that we went small. By not having the two units
the two units have gotten us this far is that I know the players now and
we just put lineups in that were very familiar with one another and we
were able to play well enough to win.
This wasnt a game that somebody lost. It was a game that somebody
won. When two teams play like this nobody loses. One team wins
because its played at such a high level.
On Italys choice of man-to-man defense:
Actually, I kind of expected them to play man-to-man. Because,
they play good man-to-man defense. What you should do when you are playing,
is to play what you do best. They play solid defense.
When we saw them play against Slovenia, we came away with immense pride
respect for them. We respected them so much. Because, it was their defense
that got em back into the game. They can match-up with us defensively,
simply, because they have good basketball players.
General comments about the game:
First, I just want to say good game to the team from Italy.
They played us tough. Thats the toughest game weve had, internationally.
The first half, they really got after it. When you are used to beating
teams by 20 or 25 points, the two previous games before. We came in, thinking
were going to try to beat them by 25. When we thought like that,
they were almost up by 25 in the first half.
So, at halftime, we got together as a team and said, listen, its
either this or nothing...we cant let this game slip out of our hands'.
Second half, like Coach (K) says, we picked our defense up and we capitalized
off every mistake they made.
On having the hot
hand in the second half:
In the second half, I hit a couple shots. I got it going after I got a
tip-in from the free throw line. It really boosted my confidence. I was
trying to get one of those the whole tournament. That was kind of the
tip-off to get me going. I knew once my outside shot was going that it
would open it up for the inside drive and for my other teammates, also.
On being down at half:
In the first half, we could have easily folded. Italy made a run
and couldve never turned back. They made a run, were up 12, so we
came in at halftime. I looked in everybodys eyes and we saw that
nobodys head was down. Everybody was telling each other, were
alright, were alright.'
When you have 12 guys saying that, you know everyones on the same
page. We came out the second half and our defense picked up tremendously.
That was the turnaround of the game.
General comments about the
This was a very good win for us. Italy played us very well. They
made shots. We were forced to play good basketball. I thought we did a
great job of responding in the second half and this is a win that we are
very proud of.
Comparing Italy to the USA
team, as Italy did not have NBA players:
We knew they were a very good team. They were 3-0 in pool play and we
knew we were playing a very good team, regardless of whether they had
an NBA player.
On issues of the USA play
in the first half:
We missed some shots. We missed some free throws and Italy did a good
job of slowing the game down. It was not a very good pace for us.
On Carmelos great game:
He was en fuego. Everything he put up, was going down. It
was fun to watch. When a guy is playing like that, you try to get him
the ball and get out of the way.
Were glad we got it. We knew Italy could get hot. They hit
some good shots, but once we stepped up the pressure defense, we took
it from there.
We knew they had shooters and that they really run their sets. I would
say they played tougher than we expected. If you asked me if I expected
to be down nine points at half, I would have said no. We showed a lot
of heart, showed a lot of character.
In the NBA, your first mindset, especially as a bigger player, is to
attack the ball, but they were driving, not to score, but to kick to the
shooters and thats what hurt us in the first half.
About the game being a little physical and chippy:
We stayed focused. They were
aggressive and were talking some trash
.youre not Michael Jordan
and on and on
but we liked that, it helped pump
Carmelo Anthony up for 15 straight points so I dont know if that
worked for them
they didnt say it to Carmelo and I know that
my hops are kind of like Jordans (laughter), but they didnt
say it to me, but they were talking out there.
On Carmelo in the second half:
Carmelo was amazing. He got hot and hes that type of scorer.
He can shoot from anywhere. We are a very unselfish team and we kept getting
him the ball.
Going away from the 5 man units and playing the
three captains together to start the second half:
We went away from the five man
units because its about winning and whatever is working is working.
It was great having Carmelo Anthony so hot, then you have to respect,
of course, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, myself and Chris Paul out there
also. We tried to get some matchups going.
was the mood like at halftime:
We were down. Guys
were kind of upset, but some of he older guys and guys who have been there
before said dont hang our heads, come on, lets go, lets
go. Keep your heads high and stay positive and thats what we did
Wade singing at halftime and I said, thats right, thats what
I want to hear. I want to hear some songs in your hearts, lets go.
What was he signing?
I dont know, I never heard that song before (laughter)
What about our game, especially in the first
I was trying to be aggressive,
trying to be real aggressive, score the ball, do what I needed to do.
General comments about the game:
They came out, shooting lights out. But, next game, well
be ready to play.
On his hard fall during the game:
Im a little sore. But, things happen on the court. You cant
do anything about it. I will ice up and I will be ready tomorrow.
On fact he didnt play as much in
the second half, was it because of the injury?
Well, the team we played Italy they went small. They
had a lot of small guys and they were trying to spread the floor. It wasnt
really a game for a big guy. Coach put a small lineup in and we played
On Re: game tonight:
Italy is a very good team, a very good shooting team. We couldnt
make any shots in the first half and we gave up too many open shots and
thats why they were able to get out to a lead. The third quarter
showed what kind of team we are. We were able to pick up the intensity,
pick up the defense, get out and run and we showed our character.
About playing with Carmelo and Dwyane to
start the third quarter:
We needed some kind of spark and Coach made an adjustment at halftime
of putting the three of us out there together and it was good. We play
well together. We dont have any egos and we know each others
games. It worked pretty good.
Have you ever seen Carmelo get that hot
Yeah, I have seen him get that hot before. In a big game like this,
he showed up and Dwyane cleaned it up and Elton and I and others did some
of the things that needed to be done for us to win.
On what the coach said to you at halftime:
He said that we had some slippage at the defensive end, not talking on
the picks. They were setting some screens, we werent talking and
they were getting some wide open shots. So we adjusted to that and came
out, got a little more physical in the second half and we did what we
had to do to win the game.
The play the team in the second half:
It was a lot of fun. It was exciting to watch it and it was exciting
when I was out there playing.
On his obvious limp and was he injured in
a couple tough falls during the game?
This is how I am after games. My body is hurt, but Ill be
alright. It was a physical game. Both teams. Both teams fouled a lot.
Both teams were on the ground a lot.
But, I feel great. We just won.
Im used to it. Everybody took a physical beating tonight.
But, well bounce back.
On the turnaround in the second
We werent playing the way were used to. We werent
moving the ball. We werent getting after it defensively. We knew
we could play a lot better. We came out and we got out on the fast break
and we played good defense.
I just came off the NBA Finals, when my team was down a
lot. I dont ever worry about being down. I dont want my teammates
to worry either. Its a long ballgame.
Italy is a good team. They are going to continue to be
a good team as the tournament continues. It was a good game for us to
have. We knew this was going to be our hardest game and it proved to be
On the adjustments in the
lineup coach not going with the two units:
I knew after halftime that it was something he was going to do. Hes
been waiting to put me in the lineup with some of the guys.
On Carmelos game
have you ever seen him that hot:
No. Maybe on TV. But never in his presence. He had it going and
when he has it going, its a beautiful thing. You never know what
hes going to do. Im glad he got it going at the right time.
I am glad hes my teammate right now, getting that hot.