“I’m fighting off a little cold, but this kind of game, needless to say, makes you feel a little bit better. It was a weird game. It was a contrast in styles. They shoot 23 threes and we shoot five. We’re trying to get the ball inside all of the time and that’s the contrast of the two teams there. Their strength is Hanlan penetrating and pitching or him shooting 3-point shots, and the strength of our team is trying to get the basketball inside. I think shooting 67 percent in the second half meant that we did get great shots in the second half. In the first half, I was disappointed. I thought that our sense of urgency that I’ve talked about all year wasn’t as great as theirs, but the biggest thing was the turnovers. We had 10 turnovers in the first half. So we talked about making sure that we got a shot. I think we did, needless to say, a better job of that – four turnovers in the second half and one of them was a block-charge call that’s always a borderline kind of thing. But I liked that.
"Isaiah, needless to say, gave us a huge game. I hate that he missed his last four free throws because he was 7-for-7 and missed his last four. It’s not only a career high in points but I’m sure it’s a career high in minutes. Brice did some good things. Marcus, I think, got all of his 13 probably in the last 12 minutes of the game. I thought J.P. really did some good things. His extra size helps us on Hanlan and he had five assists and zero turnovers, which is something that’s always big for us, too.
"Other than that, Olivier [Hanlan] is a heck of a player. I love his toughness, his competitiveness. He’s a load; it’s hard to keep him out of the paint. It’s hard to keep him from making threes. He’s a big-time load and a heck of a player. And Brown hurt us as well. We thought he was just a shooter, but he took us right to the basket a couple of times. I’m really pleased at what we got out of some guys today and some other guys have got to get better.”
What went into your decision to switch up the starting lineup?
“We hadn’t played as well. Different things for different people. J.P. seemed out of it the other night completely, and had had 12 turnovers in the two games prior to that. Our defensive grades for Brice and Kennedy weren’t as good. I hesitated a little bit to make any change, but I wasn’t going to just make one change because if you make one change, everybody thinks you’re pointing at him, and that’s not what it was. So we made the two, and the reason we chose to go a little smaller is because of their lineup. They’re really a little smaller, too. Clifford played 26 minutes, but even he plays out on the floor a lot, so I thought we’d have a better chance of chasing him with two 4-men in the game as opposed to our traditional lineup. But we need Kennedy to be a big-time player for us and I think he still is. I don’t have any idea who’s going to start next weekend.”
Is Kennedy still battling an illness or was his limited playing time a coach’s decision?
Did you like what you saw out of Marcus Paige at the 2-spot tonight?
“Well, he’s played quite a bit at the two because he plays the two when Nate is in there. He’s played there quite a bit. I’d say it’s probably about 50/50, his minutes at the one or two, but J.P. gives us a third ball handler in there when he makes the easy play. When he makes the easy play, it usually ends up being an assist. When he tries to hit the home run, it usually ends being a turnover.”
Where has Isaiah improved the most in recent weeks?
“Defensively. He’s won defensive player of the game, I think, more than anybody on our team. He’s been trying and he’s been doing some good things. Again, you lose two in a row and you can’t just say everything’s rosy. I mean, I wasn’t ready to jump off the building and I wasn’t ready to panic, but you’ve got to try something different. And then the other thing was their matchups. Don’t make too big a thing of this. It was going to be harder for Brice and Kennedy to chase those guys around the dribble handoffs and the weaves and the screens 30 feet from the basket than it was Kennedy and Brice or Kennedy and Isaiah.”
What do you think of Isaiah’s progress, confidence-wise?
“Well, he’s had some good games. This was by far the most minutes and most points, so it looks so much better. But again, if you’re the defensive player of the game nine times in the first 23 games, you’ve been able to play basketball for us pretty well, anyway. But offensively, this was the best one for him.”
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