Chris Kaman: "We're not finishing games"
What happened this season that enabled you to practically double your outputs in points and rebounds from the year before?
Chris Kaman: I just have more opportunities. I worked hard through the summer. I have extra minutes, more experience and I try to pay attention what I do on the floor.
There was a lot of talk about how you’re going to fare against Shaq in Sunday’s game against Miami, and it seems like you had a tougher job containing Dwyane Wade’s penetration to the basket. What makes him such a special player?
CK: Just his physical size. I mean, if you want to go down the middle and shoot a jump hook, he doesn’t have to move very far to catch up with you, even if you beat him on the first step. Somebody like that is always a very tough matchup. You can double-team him, but that leaves somebody else open on the floor.
What’s not working out for the Clippers so far this season?
CK: We had this game against Miami and other games where we wanted them, and it’s frustrating to be tied up with almost a minute and a half left and give games away like that, with turnovers, missed layups, open shots… We are just not playing well, we are not finishing games. We have good plays, our coach is smart, he knows the X’s and O’s of the game very well. You can see, in 80-90 percent of our plays, we have guys open. We just can’t make finishes. Sometimes, we run and execute our plays half-speed. That can be a problem, not executing the plays properly. But, bottom line is, we just don’t finish shots.
Do you still regard Shaq as one of the toughest centers to play against?
CK: Oh, yeah. You saw it early in the game, we double-teamed him and he really hurt us with passing the ball. I thought what really hurt us, too, is his pick-and-roll with Dwyane Wade. He even makes the less experienced guys like their point guard Quinn better, because he puts them in the open positions where they can really make the shots. Guy was something like 3-12 for the year, so we didn’t expect that.
Who is the toughest player for you to guard?
CK: Yao, for sure. Shaq is the second. Yao has an ability to shoot free throws, so you can’t foul the guy underneath. And he’s so much taller. He’s like half a foot taller than me. He almost has 70 pounds of weight on me, too. That doesn’t help.
So, what do you think you need to do to get to that level? Is it really just the size, or you can improve your game from the technical point of view?
CK: It’s just a matter of execution. I’m not even worried about my competition.
Obviously, you and your teammates miss Elton Brand a lot. However, did his absence on the court so far this season actually help you mature faster considering that you have to do much more than previous seasons with him in the team?
CK: Yes, it gives me more opportunities to handle the basketball. It gives me more minutes, and the team relies on me a little bit more defensively, blocking shots and rebounding. I’m just trying to keep plugging away, keep pushing, trying to continue and get some more wins because we struggle a little bit right now.
You are the guy with the longest contract on your team. You’ve seen the playoffs only once so far. What do you think your team needs to do to reach that next level?
CK: It’s a tough question. I think with Elton and Sam there, actually even without those guys we still have a great team, great talent and great potential. We just haven’t brought all that together yet. At least not consistently. Also, we need to keep our guys healthy. We keep having all these guys injured. With Sam and Elton, we made the playoffs two years ago, but luckily we have a lot of games left in this season to improve our record.
Is it fun being on this team?
CK: Oh, yeah. I’ve been on this team for five years now, and I enjoy it. I enjoy my coaches and my teammates and I always try to have fun, as much as possible.
How hard was it to change your haircut?
CK: (Laughs) What kind of question is that? No, my mom made me cut it.
You’re putting out double-doubles every night. Are you thinking about the All-Star considerations at all?
CK: I try to just concentrate on the games and not think about all that stuff in the future. If it comes it comes, if it doesn’t, it doesn’t.
Do you think that Boston is the best team right now? Who’s going to win it all?
Nebojsa Petrovacki is the editor of Sportska Centrala, a sports news agency from Serbia
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