Rashard Lewis: "Hill requires more discipline from the players"
What is your opinion on the Sonics' current record? Can Seattle make the playoffs?
Rashard Lewis: That is our main goal, to make the playoffs. We have to get on some kind of a winning streak. We have to put some good games together, not win a game or two and then start losing again. If we just play hard and work together, things will begin to get better for us.
What would be the best way to improve Seattle's performance?
RL: Defense! We are scoring about 100 points a night. Every time we step out on the floor, we score the amount of points that would normally be enough to win games. We have to make some defensive stops and prevent others to score even more points than us. Then, we will be able to win more ball games.
What do you think of the change in coaching personnel and new hire – Detlef Schrempf?
RL: We will see how it will work out. Bob Hill has a different approach and requires a lot more discipline from the players. For example, he makes us work a lot more on the conditioning. Schrempf is a guy who used to play for the Sonics and from whom we can learn a lot.
How do you feel of the changes made in the starting lineup since Bob Hill took over the team?
RL: As soon as Bob Hill became the head coach, he made some changes that he thinks are appropriate and better for the team. He thinks that the new lineup fits our style of play better. We just have to go out there and learn what it is that he wants us to do.
Vladimir Radmanovic will be the free agent at the end of the season. Would you like to see him stay with the Sonics?
RL: I don’t know what he is going to do. Currently, our main focus is to make sure that he is playing right now and working on getting us back in the playoff race. At the end of the season, Vladimir should take some time and think about the future on his own. It would be a mistake for him and for us to think about that right now. It would represent a distraction from the main focus.
Currently, you are averaging 21.7 points per game. However, on some occasions you simply explode. When that happens you are capable of scoring 50+ points with extreme ease. What happens on those nights?
RL: Some nights, man, I’m just feeling it. Sometimes I feel like every shot that I take will be a make, and when I do miss, I feel upset with myself. Some nights when I get myself going, I will probably miss a maximum of three or four shots for the night.
What are your personal goals for this season?
RL: Personal goals are to win the division and get back into the playoffs. We should continue where we stopped last season, when we got beat in the second round of playoffs. It doesn’t look great for us right now, but we can’t give it up yet. We still have a half of the regular season left, lots of basketball to be played… If we can just stick around, we can go on a run and make it.
Some rumors were spread that the Sonics could move out of Seattle in few years. What would that mean for the team? How do you like Seattle as the home of the Sonics?
RL: That is something that people have talked about recently. I really don’t have any control over that and it can’t be my main concern. My main focus is, regardless of where the team is at, or where I’m at, to make the team better and play basketball. I don’t know that much of whether the Sonics will move or not. If it does happen, I will still continue to put the ball in the hoop.
Last year, both the Suns and the Sonics were doing extremely well, while playing a similar style of basketball. This year, regardless of the problems they had with the injuries, the Suns are doing much better in comparison to Sonics. Why do you think this has happened?
RL: I think Phoenix has a real veteran point guard who really leads the team. Plus, they are playing a lot better on defense than we are. We are still scoring a lot of points, just like they are, but their defense this year has been better than it was in the past, and is much better than ours.
Who do you see as the toughest person to play against in the NBA?
RL: I think Peja Stojakovic is the toughest to defend because he shoots the ball so well. He runs off of the screens very well, and if you give him any room, he is going to make you pay for it. It is so hard to guard him and defend him. As for the defense against me, I think I defend myself the best sometimes. I simply take myself out of the game on some nights. But, I give a lot of credit to guys like Ron Artest. He is very focused on the defensive end.
Senad Mustafic is a Phoenix correspondent of Sportska Centrala, sports news agency from Serbia
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