Maurice Taylor Interview
Houston Rockets forward Maurice Taylor is a big guy with a big jump-shot. The 6-9, 255-pound Taylor was born in Detroit and played high school and college ball in Michigan. In his NBA career, playing for the Clippers and Rockets, he's averaged 12.7 points and 5.0 rebounds per game. In the 2003-04 season, Taylor possessed the second-highest scoring average by an NBA player with 10 or fewer starts. He averaged 11.5 points and 5.1 rebounds per game. InsideHoops.com editor Jeff Lenchiner met with Taylor in New Jersey for an exclusive interview.
InsideHoops.com: It's early in the season, and the team made a lot of summer changes. Talk about the start of the Rockets season.
Maurice Taylor: It's a slow start, but I think we're coming around. With the talent that we have on the team it's just a matter of time before we start clicking.
InsideHoops.com: Obviously it's supposed to take a little time to develop chemistry. Now you guys have Tracy McGrady. Talk about what he brings to the table.
Maurice Taylor: He's a guy that you have to pay attention to. He's probably the best scorer in the league. And he makes us a bigger team, and he also makes us a multidimensional team. We can play him at the point, the two, the three. So he makes us real versatile. Along with him and Yao, that's a tough combination.
InsideHoops.com: I'm watching you guys, and on the one hand it seems like you could become a Spurs-Duncan type of team that focuses on dumping the ball down to Yao Ming, and on the other hand you could focus on McGrady and ride what he does.
Maurice Taylor: I think we can do both. Like you said, at certain times when we're in the penalty and we need some tough buckets it's easy just to throw it down to Yao Ming, he's a 7'6" guy that can play. And you also need that slasher that can get to the rim, that can be multi-dimensional, that can pass, that can shoot, and we got that in Tracy. So it's a good problem to have. It's just about us jelling, and the other guys working around them.
InsideHoops.com: What has Coach Van Gundy been saying that he likes so far, and what does he say the team needs to improve?
Maurice Taylor: Well, he never says what he likes too much (laughs). He definitely tells us that we need to improve as a team. We need to play with more consistency. We can't just play a couple quarters and then take a couple quarters off just because we got talent. We have to play the full 48 minutes, especially if you want to become a championship-caliber team.
InsideHoops.com: And, as for you, how'd you become such a good outside shooter? You're way better at it than most guys who play your position.
Maurice Taylor: I just always shot. I just always was able to shoot the ball. When I was at University of Michigan, the big guys always shot with the guards. Coach has us shooting a lot. It's just repetition, just getting them up. And it's confidence, too. Because I feel like when I'm open, I'm going to knock them down.
Dikembe Mutombo: (From about eight feet away, speaking directly at Taylor) BRING MY LOTION TO THE BUS!
Maurice Taylor: (Speaking to Mutombo in a high-pitched, mock-outraged tone) Hey man, you take your lotion on the bus. You got your toiletries bag right there! The hell is going on here, Deke?!?
Mutombo looks at Taylor with a wide-eyed combination of amusement and confusion, and says nothing.
InsideHoops.com: (Laughing) Does he often ask you to bring his lotion onto the bus?
Maurice Taylor: Man, Deke will ask you any damn thing. He's by far one of my favorite guys that I've met in the league. I love Deke, I love being around him, on and off the court. He's a funny guy, you know. We have a lot of fun together.