Chauncey Billups interview
In Game 1 of the 2009 NBA playoffs Western Conference Finals, the Los Angeles Lakers edged the Denver Nuggets 105-103. Nuggets point guard Chauncey Billups had 18 points, 5 rebounds and 8 assists in the loss. Here's what he said after the game:
Question: Chauncey, obviously it was a close game. Your team has lost a couple of close games on the road, but you're right there. What does it say about your team, obviously moral victory isn't what you want. A game you might have been able to close out but didn't. Can you talk about the pros and cons of what happened tonight.
Chauncey Billups: We missed out on a great opportunity to steal this game. We played probably good enough. I think we lose the game with our poor free-throw shooting throughout the game from everybody, just poor free-throw shooting. And we missed 12 free throws, it comes back, we lose by two points. That's tough. They pounded us on the offensive glass. That hurt. We're going to continue to fight. We're going to continue to fight every single game we're not going to go away. We're going to continue to fight.
Question: Chauncey, could you quickly talk about Kobe Bryant's fourth quarter and did he do anything different to kind of get loose?
Billups: Well, he got more aggressive. He got more aggressive plus we got into the bonus with about five minutes left and that's tough because every time he attacks and gets the whistle he's on the free-throw line. So that's tough. But that's what smart players do when the team gets in a bonus, you don't settle, you attack. And that's what the great ones do.
Question: You talked earlier about the fight displayed throughout the game for you guys. In the past it hasn't always been there for this team, is that reflective of the culture change that's happened this year?
Billups: Yeah, pretty much. Pretty much. I watched this team play against the Lakers last year. I don't think they had one game this competitive. This league changes all game -- we're up 10, down two, down four. We pretty much controlled the game, most of the game. That's why it's disappointing that we sit here and we lose this game. But that's what home court is all about. They did a good job of protecting their home court and we look forward to trying to do better on Thursday.
Question: You finished the game with eight assists. Were you able to see the floor as well as you wanted to? And then, also, can you talk about the overall game that Carmelo gave you?
Billups: Well, I was able to see a lot of gaps because they come over and they overload the side, whenever the ball is on the side of the court they overload. So they got their hands all over the place. So I can always see gaps when penetrating, guys slipping to the basket or the weak-side guy. And I'm always going to try to make the right play, ready or not. That's what I'm going to try to do. I was able to see a lot of that stuff. But Melo, Melo was great. Melo was great from the jump to the end of the game. He was effective. They couldn't stop him. Couldn't stop him. At the end I wish he could have got his hand on a few more balls and the last few possessions because he was going so good. But Melo was awesome tonight.
Question: As good and as aggressive and intense as your team was for the vast majority of the game, is this a reminder that you want to be a championship team, it can't be 46 minutes or 47 minutes or even 47.5 minutes?
Billups: Yeah, because two, three more minutes, I mean, we come away with the win. And we're up, I don't know, three or four with three minutes left. I don't know what it was. But I know we were up. And they make a couple plays. Get to the line. Hit a big shot. I think Fisher hit a big shot in the corner. And you gotta just continue to play, man. That part of the game is when the defense gets better and you get smarter and you get tougher. You don't try to just ride it out to get the win. You don't play to -- you play to win, not play not to lose. That's what I always believed in.
For whatever reason they made some plays at the end and we didn't.
Question: Obviously you want part of the history of the rivalry; it's been one-sided over the many years. Is this a statement by Denver saying it's all done, this is a new vibration of Nuggets basketball?
Billups: Like I said a little earlier, we're going to compete until the whistle blows, until the buzzer blows up there. We're not going to lay down. You're going to have to beat us. Like I said, that was pretty much how we played the game today. They came back, made plays.
Gotta give them a lot of credit, they made the plays to win the game. But like I said, it's small things that we gotta worry about. Like I said, free-throw shooting is something that we can control. Focus in a lot more on that. I think if we shoot the ball a little better from the free-throw line, it makes it tougher to beat us.
Question: Chauncey, you've been through a lot of these playoff wars through the years, a lot of ups and downs and tough losses and some great wins. What do you tell your teammates now preparing for Game 2 to put this aside and move forward?
Billups: I think win or lose, good or bad, you've got to have a short memory, because every game is totally different. Game 1 is always a feel-out game, see what teams are doing, what is going on. You make your adjustments for Game 2.
But every game is totally different. We gotta have a short memory. We gotta look at a lot of tape and see what we're successful at and where we've struggled at. And just try to do better the next game.
Question: The last shot you made looked like impossible to make. Probably toughest I ever saw. But the last play you looked a little bit upset after the end of the game, the ball should be in your hands in the last play?
Billups: Which one, the one where J.R. got fouled?
Billups: It's a tough play because we don't have any timeouts. And I know what they're thinking however else, let somebody else get it other than me. And don't let them get a 3-point shot off, foul them put them on the free-throw line. So in that position I wish I would have -- I wish I could have got the ball.
They did a good job. I couldn't get it. But I wish I could have told J.R. that they were going to foul, and when you see him come to foul, shoot the ball. Just little things that you learn through experience and through a lot of tough battles that he hasn't been in yet.
So that's why I was disappointed that I -- not that I didn't get the ball, that I didn't relay that knowledge to him, that savvy to him, where when they seen them coming, to foul him to try to go up and shoot the ball and get three shots. Just little things like that.
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