I don’t think you intended Dennis Smith Jr. to defend Paul George on that last play but how well did he do to stop him there?
“This is what being a big-time player is all about. He made the go-ahead basket one end and guards the best player at the other end. I’d have to look at it again. He wasn’t intended to be on George, but they were doing a lot of things to facilitate switching, so he ended up on him and made him take a difficult shot.
“He broke the rhythm a little bit. With a guy like George that’s the best you can hope to do because he’s going to get a look somehow. (DeAndre Jordan) getting that rebound and making the one out of two was huge.
“There’s more events in an NBA game with Oklahoma City than virtually any other team because of how active they are defensively and how many loose balls and rebounds they come up with.
“The key to the game was they only got seven offensive rebounds. Last time we played them they got 26. There were other things that went wrong for us, but guys kept playing and the number one thing was rebounding. The whole team took on the challenge.”
What did you guys do to slow down Russell Westbrook tonight?
“We got lucky that he had an off shooting night. We stayed in front of him pretty well but he’s a great player and knowing him I’m not looking forward to tomorrow night.”
After a disappointing ending to the game for Dennis the other night, what does the ending to this one mean for him?
“Well the NBA season is one big long process and you can’t get too high or too low. They made a torrid run at us to start the fourth. They knocked (our lead) down from 11 to having the lead by two. We just had to keep playing.
“With Dennis it’s all about keeping his speed in the game. When he keeps that vertical thrust towards the rim consistently in the game nobody can stay in front of him. Pretty typically the last play of the game he ends up getting by and laying the ball in so it was a beautiful thing.”
Is this the kind of defensive player you knew Dennis Smith Jr could be coming out of the draft?
“Well he’s come a long way but we always knew the ability was there, the competitiveness was there, it just was a matter of experience. Then tasting winning and tasting a lot of losing and getting to the point where you hate losing even more than you love winning. That’s where this team has got to find its growth.
“This is how many consecutive one-possession games, it’s ridiculous how competitive the league is this year. It’s a privilege to be involved in competition like this every single night. You’ve got to have a mentality that says you’re going to keep coming no matter what and that’s what Dennis Smith Jr. did tonight.”
Dennis Smith Jr.
What did you see on the play where you hit that go-ahead layup?
“I was just trying to get downhill initially. I saw the time and I figured we maybe could go for a two-for-one and possibly get the lead so I tried to get down there as soon as possible. They did a good job of cutting it off initially, my second time going it was open and I made the layup.”
What were you thinking on that final possession defending Paul George?
“I was just trying to earn my respect in this league. He had scored and he got three free throws on me and I told him stop flopping. He said he was going to get a straight up bucket on me and on that last play I told him I ain’t no one to iso and that’s just what it is.”
Were you trying to force him in any particular direction?
“Not really I was just trying to make him uncomfortable. I just didn’t want him settling into his moves at all, just jabbing at the ball as much as possible. If I get a hand on it that’s extra but I just want to make him uncomfortable.”