Coach Scott Brooks can't explain why you guys are so much more careful with the ball these days. Do you have any theories as to why you're having so few turnovers?
“I'm not sure why. We've put a lot of focus on getting to the right spots and having good spacing. I think we've been better at that. That definitely helps us because we're not playing in a crowd as much, but I don't know why all the sudden we're doing that better. That's really not answering your question. Maybe it's a higher sense of urgency knowing each possession is so important. I can't really put my finger on it, either. In all these one-possession games, if we had our season average of turnovers (16.3), we'd probably lose.”
I'm sure you've understood what Brooks has preached all year long in terms of the importance of defense, but do you think it finally has clicked in with the younger players?
“We're getting really good experience in these playoffs. I think we're trusting what we've been practicing and what coaches have been preaching. I think before maybe we had a tendency when things got tough to decide that we needed to try to make individual plays and try to take care of it ourselves, which doesn't really work out very well. We're trusting the team more and the game plan and it's working out well for us.”
Does what you're saying fit with the night-and-day difference in your team's first-half defense compared to its second-half defense in the Game 4 comeback victory against the Los Angeles Lakers?
“Guys were more engaged, I think, and locked in. On every possession, if you've got five guys in tune with what's going on, we're really tough to score on. The key is to try and recreate that as much as possible and be more consistent with those stretches where we're really locked in that.”
How daunting was it to play the Lakers? They're huge and they have Kobe Bryant. How did you overcome such an imposing opponent?
“We play against them quite a bit, which helps. We (usually) play four times a year. We had a playoff series with them (in 2010). You kind of learn what can be effective and just try to do that. That's one of the things about being a pro is you play everybody so much that you no longer are in awe of anything. You know guys are good, you get beat sometimes, some players are more talented than you, things like that. You just think about what you can try to do to beat them. That's your job. That's what comes with experience and year and years of playing.”